Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Too Much For One Night

There was something about this recipe that I was drawn to. I think it was the chive crust. I was looking at a recipe for beef and leek pot pie. You always hear about chicken pot pie, but rarely beef, and it sounded infinitely better than chicken. And I never get to cook leeks! Or do anything with chives. I put beef and leek pot pie on my list for the week.
The only problem was the amount of prep work required. Cut 1.5 lbs of beef into 1 inch cubes and brown it. Chop up onions, celery, carrots and potato. Make and chill the crust. Cook the beef (essentially making a stew) for an hour. It was really a weekend kind of meal. I decided to make it on a Tuesday night.
I got home at 6:30 and was in the kitchen sharpening my knives by 6:40. I started chopping and prepping. I had already cut up the meat in the morning but that only saved me about 10 minutes. I spend 40 minutes chopping the vegetables and browning the meat. Then everything went into a big pot to stew for an hour.
In the meantime I made the crust. Crust is always made the same way. Mix up dry ingredients like flour, salt and chives. Add the fat - in this case, shortening, and create a coarse meal. Add ice water until just moist enough to come together in a dough. It turns out I didn't have any ice water ready, and I never filled my ice cube tray since moving in. Ice water is used for making crusts to keep the fat in solid form while the dough comes together. Later when the dough is in the oven and the fat melts, it leaves pockets of air which create a flaky crust. Otherwise the crust can become gluey and dense.
I put a mug of water into the freezer and waited for it to chill. I finished prepping the vegetables that were to be stirred into the stew before putting it in a pan to bake. I whisked some flour with beef broth, which would be used to thicken the stew. Finally my water was chilled, my dough formed and went into the fridge. It was supposed to chill for 30 more minutes.
At this point, the stew had been stewing for the appointed hour which meant it was nearly 8:30. I allowed the dough a mere 15 minutes of chilling time while I poured the stew into a pan. Then I rolled it out, slapped it onto the stew where it barely covered the entire pan. (Note that the recipe called for 11X7 and all I had was 13X9.) Another 20 minutes for the pot pie to bake and then it was ready. I was too tired to eat more than a small square.

Beef and Leek Pot Pie

Pros: Uses less common ingredients like leeks and chives, loaded with veggies besides leeks like carrots, potatoes and peas, and everyone likes a good crust
Cons: Takes way too freaking long to make

Conclusion: Make a beef stew. Enjoy. The next day, make a crust and pot pie the leftovers. It's just too much for one night.