This weekend I found myself with a counter full of produce from the garden and moose meat the Other Fisherman brought home after butchering. I was thinking how to incorporate some of those wonderful ingredients into a tasty Sunday supper. I determined moose pot pies would be an excellent way to use our home-grown and Alaskan ingredients in a comfort food of autumn kind of way.
I remember when I was a kid, mom would buy those frozen individual beef or chicken pot pies. They had a crumbly, dry pie crust on the top and mushy bottom crust. The vegetables were soft and mealy, the meat was chewy, the sauce tasteless and salty and you had to wait forever for them to be cool enough to eat, as they came out of the oven scalding hot. By the time they cooled enough for you to get hold of the little aluminum pan they came in to dump upside down on a plate to eat, it seemed like forever. But we loved them for some reason. I think it was the novelty that you got your own little pie.
This recipe also makes your very own pot pie, but with perfectly cooked and seasoned meat and vegetables, and baked in a rich, savory sauce encased with a tender, buttery crust.
I have baked pot pies with a top and bottom pie crust, just a top crust or a biscuit topping. At the restaurant my mom worked at when I was a kid, their chef made his with a puff pastry crust. All ways are delicious. I’ve also used leftover roast, prime rib or shank meat cooked in my Insta-Pot.
Moose or Beef Pot Pie
2 pounds boneless beef chuck-eye roast, or a tender cut of moose, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup creminis or white button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery cut into ½ inch pieces
½ cup potatoes cut into ½ inch pieces
½ cup brussels sprouts cut into fourths if big or halves if smaller (optional)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup dry red wine or Guinness beer
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 9-inch store-bought pie dough round or your own made-from-scratch pie crust or 1 batch of your favorite buttermilk biscuits.
3 tablespoons melted butter
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon thyme
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 F degrees. Season meat with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half the meat and cook until well browned, about 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a plate with the remaining uncooked beef.
Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the now-empty pot. Add mushrooms, onion, carrots, celery and brussels sprouts and cook until vegetables are lightly browned, about 5 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in wine or beer and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour until the vegetables are well coated and cook for 1 minute. Add broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire, and bay leaf, stirring until combined. Scrape any bits that have stuck to bottom of pan to incorporate into liquids. Add beef or moose and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook until beef is tender, about 1 1/4 hours.
Remove filling from oven and taste the meat to make sure it’s tender. If the texture is chewy, add 1/4 cup water, stir and return to oven for another 20-30 minutes. Once meat is tender, remove and then increase oven temperature to 400 F degrees.
If the meat mixture looks like it needs more liquid, then remove mixture from pot to a bowl and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup beef stock back to the Dutch oven and stir to scrape off some of the crusty fond that’s accumulated in the pot. This should create a thick meaty sauce to add into the meat mixture and thin it out a bit, adding more flavor of the beef or moose.
Discard the bay leaf and add the peas. Taste the filling and add salt and pepper to taste, up to 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Spray the bottom of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray and add meat mixture to the dish or alternately, use individual casserole dishes, spraying each dish.
Brush the rim and interior lip of the pie plate with egg (this will prevent the shell from sticking to the dish and cracking or breaking) if using a pie crust. Top the filling with pie dough so dough overhangs edges of pie plate only slightly. Fold overhanging pie down inward so folded edge is flush with inner edge of pie plate. Crimp dough evenly around edge of pie using your fingers.
Using a paring knife, cut a ½-inch hole in center of pie. Cut six ½-inch slits around the hole, halfway between center and edge of pie. Brush top of crust with a mixture of 2 tablespoons melted butter with ½ teaspoon paprika and ½ teaspoon chopped thyme. Transfer pie to rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown, 20-30 minutes.
Alternately, make a biscuit dough. I added about ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese to the dough. Roll dough out to about an ½ inch thick and cut into circles if using a round baking dish or square if using a square baking dish. Brush tops of biscuits with butter mixture.
Transfer pie(s) to cooling rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Serve.
Enjoy your pot pies with a crisp, green garden salad followed by a piece of apple spice cake.