Several weeks ago I had the most delectable pot pie at one of my favorite local French restaurants, and I immediately felt the urge to make my own. I gave a Spring twist to these veggie pot pies by incorporating bright seasonal vegetables, but I’m tempted to remake them with heartier veggies when the winter weather comes back around. The very best part about these little pot pies is that they’re individually sized, which makes portion control easier when eating them, and makes them super cute for serving to guests. Maybe even for an Easter lunch?
In my humble opinion, there are two things that are crimes against pot pies. The first is a heavy, creamy filling. A simple roux will thicken your sauce and add richness, which is all the filling should need if flavors are properly developed. There’s no need to dump a bunch of heavy cream in there. The second crime is to leave out the bottom crust. As a kid I distinctly remember eating only the doughy bottom crust in pot pies, so it’s hard to imagine anyone would only want a small amount of crust on top.
Speaking of dough, creating these also gave me an opportunity to finally test out using lard, which is something my Dad has been encouraging me to do for as long as I can remember. I’m a strong butter advocate so I went half and half here, but I loved the way it turned out. The lard definitely contributes a lot of flavor and I think it would be a great pairing if you were adding chicken to them!
Individual Veggie Pot Pies
For the crust:
- 1/2 cup cold lard
- 1/2 cup cold butter
- 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup cold water
For the filling:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 1 leek, diced
- 1 bunch asparagus, diced
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups chicken stock
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash)
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the lard, butter and flour on low speed until the fat is broken into pea-sized chunks. Sprinkle in the salt and water, and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.
Shape the dough into two equal disks, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. While the dough is refrigerating, make the filling.
Place a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the carrots, leek, and asparagus and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes. The vegetables should remain fairly firm. Add the peas, garlic, thyme, rosemary and butter, stirring to combine. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and stir well to make a paste.
Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer, then bring the heat down to low. The mixture should have thickened enough to leave a light coating on the back of the spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside while rolling out the dough.
Preheat oven to 350°F and set out 4 mini cocottes or large ramekins.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the first disk of dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into four pieces and press into the bottoms and sides of each cocotte with your fingers. Trim the excess from the edges and use it to fill in any remaining gaps. Roll the second round of dough out to 1/4 inch thick and create the tops. Place a cocotte on the layer of dough, and cut rough circles around it, about 1 inch from the edge.
Divide the filling between the cocottes and place the dough rounds on top. Fold the excess dough underneath and crimp the edges. Brush the tops with egg wash and slice an X into each to create a vent. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
Refine Cooking Tips
- If you’d like to keep the meal vegetarian, use another 1/2 cup butter in place of the lard. Since butter has higher water content, you may need to scale back the amount of water slightly.
- Don’t overcook your vegetables! They will continue to cook as part of the filling, so if you sauté them longer than a few minutes at the beginning, they will turn to mush.
- Pressing the bottom layer of dough into the cocotte is an imperfect process. Don’t worry about measuring and cutting exactly, just make sure the whole area is filled in so your filling doesn’t leak out!