Beef pot pie is the ultimate mix of art and science. An equation of meat, veggies, sauce, filling and beautiful assembly makes for the flakiest, crispiest, stewiest (we could literally go on forever), pot pie. You wont even miss the bottom crust.
If there's any dish that could sum up both Philip's and my childhood, it's the hot and flakey pot pie. Straight out of the freezer and into the oven, pot pie is a dish filled with comfort, warmth and satisfaction, a humble and modest delicacy, and even today, is still one of life's greatest treats.
As adults, pot pie has become a true labour of love and no matter how we serve it, either a mini chicken pot pie, pork hand pie or a potato and beef pot pie, we still crave the pop-it-in-the-oven availability of this classic and comforting dish.
Traditional beef pot pie, consists of a homemade crust and a slow-simmered filling, and with any kitchen concoction actually is the perfect recipe of science and art. When it comes to science, the perfect equation to any pot pie involves selecting a base, adding in vegetables, making a luscious sauce, rolling out a flakey dough and assembling (equals the perfect pot pie), and assembly is where the art comes in. Of course, you can fold dough over for a simple pot pie, or you can really fancy it up like the different variations below.
1. The Protein or Meat: What's going to be the star of your dish? While there's many protein variations or even preparations of protein, decide on chicken, beef, pork or even vegetables. For this recipe, not only did we choose beef as the star of our beef pot pie, but we curried our beef and added in potatoes as a way to pull some of the bitterness of our the curry sauce. For a deep flavour in your pot pie, season and brown the meat before cooking any of the vegetables.
2. Classic or Seasonal Vegetables: The classic mirepoix is what beef pot pies are made of, but playing around with other veggie variations is what recipe testing is all about. Stray away from the classics and pay attention to what's in season, especially in comfort food season where mushrooms, greens and squashes are available. Whatever vegetables you choose be sure to prep them correctly (diced or cubed) for even cooking distribution and ideally the same size for the perfect bite.
3. Flavourful Sauce: The hero of a beef pot pie, a thick and flavourful sauce is what brings the entire dish together. For our pot pie we use tomato paste and flour as the thickener for our beef stock to make a filling that will be thick and comforting, especially with the mix of curry powder.
4. Flakey, Buttery Crust: The piece du resistance of any beef pot pie is in the crust. Flakey, buttery, comforting, mouthwatering and more, the crust of any really is the best part and can literally make or break a beef pot pie. A beautiful flakey pie crust starts with cold butter. We start by grating our butter onto a plate and placing it in the freezer for 30 minutes.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together flour and salt. Add the frozen butter and stir to coat the butter in the flour. Get some ice cold water and, one tablespoon at a time, add it to the flour and mix until a dough ball forms. You should use about 3-4 tablespoons of water total. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface then shape the dough into a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and place back into the fridge to get cold.
5. Assembly: Now that you've got all the formulas perfected, it's time to assemble and selecting your dish of choice is very important. Whether serving a group with one large pie, or individual for appetizers (or fond childhood memories), be sure to select an oven-proof skillet that will keep all the juices in. Spoon a few heaping spoonfuls of the filling into each ramekin and fill to the top, smoothing out the mixture. Then top with your dough.
For our recipe, we tried out three different styles of pie toppings. If making individual sized pies, for best results, make a template of the top of your serving vessels using a piece of parchment paper. Make all your crusts and place in the fridge to stay firm while waiting to assemble.
Fork Press Beef Pot Pie: Roll the dough out and cut it the same size as the skillet top. Using a fork, press the edges to get the imprint of the fork all around the outside. Cut a ½ inch hole in the centre of the dough and cut four slits for additional detail.
Lattice Beef Pot Pie: Roll the dough out at least an inch larger than than what the final size will be. Cut the dough into ½ inch strips. Place half the strips running the same way on top of the parchment template, leaving about ½ inch between each strip. Curl back every other piece of dough and lay a strip of dough crosswise. Lay the curled strips flat then curl back the dough strips that stayed flat the first time. Lay another strip crosswise and repeat until the top of the serving dish would be covered. Cut the dough the same size as the parchment template. Watch a video on how to make a lattice crust here.
Wave Beef Pot Pie: Roll the dough out a ½ inch larger than the skillet top. Roll the edge over to make a thick edge. Using your thumb and index finger, form a scalloped edge all around the outside of the dough. Cut several slits for steam to escape.
Bake your beef pot pies at 400° F until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling under the dough, and what you'll get is the flakiest, crispiest, stewiest (we could literally go on forever), beef pot pie.
Spicy Curry Beef Pot Pie with Potatoes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cold butter grated than frozen
- ¼ cup ice water
- 1 lb beef chuck cut into small cubes
- 2 red potatoes small diced (1.5 cups/250g
- ½ onion small diced (1 cup/125g)
- 2 carrots small diced (1 cup/150g)
- 2 stalks celery small diced (1 cup/150g)
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 tablespoon + 3 tablespoon Carribean curry powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon + 3 tablespoon flour
- No. 1 | In a medium sized bowl, mix together 1 cup of flour and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Add the butter, and mix with a fork until it’s coated in flour. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until it forms into a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape the dough into a 1 inch disc. Wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- No. 2 | Preheat a skillet on medium high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. In a small bowl, coat the beef with 1 tablespoon each of curry powder and flour. Once the oil in the pan begins to smoke, add half of the beef cubes, a few at a time, leaving space between them. Cook the beef until browned, about 2 minutes per side, then transfer to a bowl. Do the same with the second half of the beef.
- No. 3 | Using the same skillet, add the potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté the vegetables for 2-3 minutes, then add the scotch bonnet, garlic, thyme, remaining curry powder, garam masala, salt and pepper. Stir to coat the vegetables with the curry and continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the curry becomes dark and fragrant. Add the browned beef back into the skillet and stir in the tomato paste and remaining flour. Once all the vegetables and beef are coated and the tomato paste becomes a deep brown colour, pour in the beef stock. Scrape any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the skillet and mix until well incorporated. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook until thickened, about 20 minutes.
- No. 4 | Preheat your oven to 400°.
- No. 5 | Pull the dough out of the fridge about 5-10 minutes before rolling. On a lightly flour dusted surface, roll the dough out to about ⅛ inch thickness. Cut the dough slightly larger than the top of the skillet. Place the dough directly on top of the beef curry. Cut slits into the top to allow steam to escape. Optional: Make an egg wash by beating an egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the dough with a light layer of the egg wash before placing in the oven.
- No. 6 | Place the beef pot pie in the oven to bake for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Make ahead: Both the dough and the curry filling can be made the day before. Reheat the filling before topping with the pie crust.
- Serving vessels: The pot pie can be made in the same skillet that you cook everything in. Make sure to give the filling a good stir before topping with the dough. Alternatively, you can make individual pot pies in small skillets, ramekins, or french onion soup bowls. Fill each bowl with the hot filling then top with the dough.
- Crust options: Shape and style the crust as desired. You can learn how to make a lattice top by clicking this link.