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Giving the Pot Pie Another Shot

The irony of growing up near the ocean is that I also grew up in a time when the local seafood fare hadn’t been tapped yet–at least not beyond restaurants. Sure, you could get a good lobster or grouper at the nearby Yankee Clipper in Freeport (where I had my first–and last–waitressing job one college summer), but the idea of finding fresh fish at the local supermarket was pretty unheard of.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-2-38-10-pmSo our dinner tables were laden with canned salmon and canned tuna on fish days, which I hated. Hated. Wouldn’t touch. Spent hours at the dinner table after everyone had finished their meals, starting that salmon patty down until my father went to bed and my mother, the softie, let me win.

I blame this childhood for my hatred of all fish, which is a lame excuse, I know, but I’m sticking to it. But I digress.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-2-39-33-pmAnother dish I grew up hating was the pot pie. My mother was a wonderful, curious cook, but I don’t recall her ever taking on the pot pie; instead, she’d slide a frozen Swanson one in the oven, which always made my brother happy, at least. My recollection of this particular pot pie was a gooey mess of chicken, carrots, potatoes and–my mortal enemy–peas, all floating in this milky beige gravy, which never looked as enticing as it did in the TV ads. But, Pot Pie Night was less dreaded than Fish Night, so I’d pick out the chicken bit and maybe take a bite or two out of the crust (dessert!).

Memories die hard. To this day, I have never touched any pot pie. Until two weeks ago. I don’t know what caught my eye about the  Mushroom-Thyme Pot Pies recipe in Bon Appetit’s November 2016 issue . The sprinkled thyme ever so delicately gracing the top? The fact that three different types of mushrooms were on the recipe list? The utter dearth of peas???  img_2193

I flattened out the spread in the magazine, slightly daunted by the three sections of this recipe: “Dough”, “Mushroom Gravy” and “Assembly.” Seriously?? Assembly??

Before I rave about how wonderful this recipe is, I need to confess that I kind of messed up the directions.

Now, I don’t drink when I cook, nor could I blame fighting a foggy cold or an imbalanced prescription drug intake, so I can only chalk my missteps up to my fraudulence and lifelong habit of not following directions very well.img_2197

But hear me out. The recipe calls for draining the mushroom broth and discarding the solids (that would be the precious mushrooms). I did not. I kept the mushrooms, let them simmer long enough to become a rich gravy, then combined them with the onions and fennel (Assembly section), which all went into this divine creation.


Was my version better? Can’t say. But I’ll know soon. This dish is on its way to becoming a regular–and a great addition for the vegetarian guests–so there will be a time when we discard. For now, keeping the solids in. If nothing else, it just feels healthier. Fiber, and all that. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Jane was executive beauty director at W Magazine for 16 years. When she is not writing beauty articles, she's likely either hiking with her husband and dog, Remy, or in her kitchen, frauding (new verb) her way around a fancy recipe, a home decoration or a highbrow dinner party conversation of which she knows nothing about. In other words, she nods a lot and googles a lot later.

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