I’ve never had much success with potpies — whenever I tried them before, the vegetables weren’t properly cooked, or the gravy didn’t taste right, or the crust came out too hard. The successful potpie kept eluding me until I finally gave up altogether.
Until today. Oh, my, but am I amazed at this potpie recipe!!! Veganomicon has done it yet again — that cookbook continues to amaze me with all of its creative combinations. I think the secret here is the broth — before, I never paid attention to whether or not I was using vegetable broth, but wow, that makes all the difference. The other secret is the crust — this is some deliciously flaky crust we have here!
The recipe called for a larger potpie to be made, but I don’t like having a large filling-to-crust ratio, so I increased the crust “surface area,” if you will, by just making lots of mini potpies. I used a regular muffin tin and some improv aluminum foil “cup cake” holders.
Also, if you don’t like constantly wiping off a surface to do your dough rolling, do what I did and make your life easier: take your cutting board, or your flat pizza pan, put some plastic wrap or aluminum on top, and roll to your heart’s content. That minimizes clean up big time.
This is a little labor intense, so to save time, I suggest chopping up the vegetables and making the dough beforehand, if possible. Also, it’s important to get the onions, carrots, potatoes, and celery diced finely; otherwise, the vegetables won’t cook evenly and you’ll be left with a somewhat raw potpie. This recipe makes 24 individual mini potpies.
For the crust (make twice for this recipe):
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup Earth Balance
~2/3 cup cold water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
For the filling:
5 tablespoons olive oil
~ 3 cups seitan, chopped
1 teaspoon soy sauce, or seitan broth
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1 large onion, diced finely (very important!)
1 large carrot, diced finely (very important!)
2 small potatoes, diced finely (very important!)
1 stalk celery, diced finely (very important!)
1 cup frozen green peas or corn kernels
2/3 cup vegetable broth
1 ½ cups vegetable broth (separate)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1. Prepare the dough by combining all the dry ingredients and mixing thoroughly. Cut the Earth Balance into the dough in batches until the dough is crumbly. Mix the water and lemon juice separately, then pour into the dough mixture and knead together. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour, being careful not to add too much; if the dough is too dry, add water in tablespoon increments. Roll out the dough into a 8 in x 5 in rectangle, then chill while preparing the filling.
2. For the filling, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet and pan fry the seitan. Add the soy sauce/seitan broth and cook until the seitan crisps a little on the edges. Set the seitan aside into another bowl.
3. In the now empty skillet, make a chickpea flour roux by heating up the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and adding the chickpea flour. Keep the heat on medium to low so the flour doesn’t burn; the flour should turn into a darker color as it cooks.
4. Add the chopped onion and cook for several minutes. The mixture will look like it needs more oil; if you’re cooking in a non-stick skillet, resist the urge to add more oil. If the mixture begins to stick, however, add a little oil to keep it from sticking and burning.
5. Add the carrots, potatoes, and celery, and cook until the vegetables are softened.
6. Add the 2/3 cup vegetable oil and cook until the broth has reduced a bit by simmering for several minutes.
7. Add the frozen peas, stir thoroughly, then add half of the remaining vegetable broth (3/4 cup). Add the thyme, mustard powder, and sage. Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce the volume by allowing the broth to evaporate a little.
8. Add the remaining vegetable broth (3/4 cup) and cook until a thin gravy has formed. Add the seitan and stir, then turn off the heat and season with salt to taste.
9. Remove the piecrust from the fridge; on a clean floured surface, roll out the dough into a larger rectangle. I eyeball this step because I don’t have a ruler that I can just whip out. For mini potpies, cut out circles that are about an inch larger in radius than the muffin tin cups you’re using. I used a large mug that was about the right size to make circle indents into the dough, which I then cut out using a knife.
10. Make aluminum foil “holders” by cutting out a square of aluminum large enough to cover the bottom of the muffin tin. The pastry circle you’ve cut out should be able to fit inside the aluminum square. Press both the pastry dough and the aluminum foil into the muffin tin to create a mini potpie. There should be a little pastry dough left over to make little caps for the individual pies.
11. Scoop a generous amount of filling into each pie crust, then add a square of extra pie dough on top of the filling. You don’t need to seal the edges or anything — I just placed the extra dough on top because I like to have extra crust. If making individual pies is too labor intense, simply add all the filling into a deep casserole dish, roll out the pastry dough so that it covers the dish, and tuck in the pastry trimmings.
12. Bake at 400˚F until the top crust is browning at the edges. Because the pies are small and the filling has mostly been cooked, it shouldn’t take that long for the potpies to be ready.
13. To serve, slip the potpie out of the muffin tin and remove the aluminum foil. Serve warm and enjoy!