A Perfect Pot Pie for Spring by Dana Jacobi for the American Institute for Cancer Research
Pot pies rank high as comfort food. But they get served far less often than other favorites, such as meat loaf and macaroni and cheese, because making them requires more effort from the cook. For sure, the top crust adds anxiety-producing uncertainty—will it come out too hard? Worse yet, will it remain doughy and raw where it meets the filling?
With spring provoking thoughts of young tender carrots and bright baby green peas, this is the perfect time to work out an easy potpie topped with a fearless crust. Browsing through my voluminous cookbook collection for inspiration, I found that cobblers, with their biscuit-like dropped-on topping, offer the perfect carefree crust. For an even simpler crust, I used cornbread mix. I chose one that is gluten free, but any kind can do.
Making the sauce is the most cooking this recipe requires. For a convenient filling with homemade flavor, I simmered fresh sliced carrots and celery with green peas and frozen pearl onions in store-bought chicken broth. Setting the vegetables aside, I reduced the liquid to concentrate its flavor, and then used it as the base for a boldly seasoned sauce.
Using rice flour instead of wheat makes the sauce lighter and more translucent, letting the other ingredients shine through more. Plus for those who need to avoid gluten, you can keep the dish gluten free.
Pot pie fillings require cooked ingredients in bite-size pieces. Fresh roasted turkey breast cut from the frame at the deli counter is ideal, unless you are lucky enough to have homemade leftovers. Avoid the processed boneless kind sliced for sandwiches.
1/2 cup sliced carrots, in 1/2-inch slices
1/2 cup sliced celery, in 1/2-inch slices
1 cup frozen pearl onions
2 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp rice flour
1 cup low-fat (1%) milk, at room temperature
1 tsp dried thyme
2 cups cooked diced turkey breast, in 3/4-inch pieces (see note)
1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
5 tsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup low-fat (1%) milk
1 large egg
1/2 package (10 oz) gluten-free cornbread mix such as Bob's Red Mill
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In medium saucepan, simmer carrots, celery and onions in chicken broth until they are tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. With slotted spoon, remove vegetables and set aside. Boil broth until it is reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes. Set broth aside.
In heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Mix in rice flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute as it bubbles. Do not let it color. Slowly add 1/2 cup of reduced broth and whisk until combined with flour mixture. Gradually add remaining broth while whisking vigorously. Add milk and cook sauce for 5 minutes, whisking often, until it has consistency of light creamed soup. Mix in thyme, turkey, green peas and reserved vegetables. Season filling to taste with salt and pepper. Spread filling in 8-inch square baking dish and set aside.
For topping, in microwavable bowl, melt butter. Add milk and egg and mix with fork to beat egg. Stir in cornbread mix. Spoon topping over pot pie filling in baking dish, dropping it in dollops to leave room around edges of pan and between dollops.
Bake pot pie for 30-35 minutes, or until topping feels firm to touch, is lightly browned, and filling is bubbling. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Note: Use only turkey carved from breast, not the kind sliced to use in sandwiches. Or arrange 3 slices raw turkey scallopini on a large sheet of aluminum foil and fold top and sides to make packet. Bake turkey at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or until white in center.
Makes 8 servings
Per serving: 1 1/2 cups
Per serving: 270 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g sat fat), 34 g carbohydrates, 19 g protein, 3 g fiber, 460 mg sodium
“Something Different” is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. www.aicr.org