I’m an autumn…..as in an autumn from the Color Me Beautiful craze from the 80’s. Little did I know, when I was a 14-year-old girl analyzing my hair and skin tones, that my autumn color palette extended, now that I am a nearly 50-year-old woman, to my favorite foods and recipes. Summer has plenty of reasons to celebrate — I mean, what would we do without tomatoes fresh from the garden?? But autumn has a vibe all its own, and the braises, pot pies, and stews are nothing short of good, old-fashioned comfort food — a little culinary ‘hey, everything is going to be okay’ pat on the back as the days begin to shorten and the temperatures begin to fall.
I have a thing for dishes and pottery (something not explained by my autumn Color Me Beautiful analysis) and when I ran into Dede Eckels, owner and potter extraordinaire at Eckels Pottery, a few weeks ago, it was no surprise when the conversation quickly turned to these sweet little individual pie plates. I love individual serving dishes, especially for pot pies/quiche/chicken b’stillas, and when I saw these beauties, I knew I had to add them to my growing collection local pottery. There’s something about serving good, local food in cool, local pottery that really seems to work. And I’m glad it’s working in my kitchen, even if the blue plates are in the winter color palette — I don’t remember Carol Jackson’s color guidelines extending to crockery and dishes!
Individual Vegetable Pot Pies
(makes 4 decent-sized pot pies)
1/2 cup butter, divided
4 medium red potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 large red onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 package mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 large leek, cleaned and sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup cream or half-and-half
1 cup kale, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven. Once hot, add onion and 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the leeks and cook for another 3 minutes, and then add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add the broth, stirring constantly, until thoroughly incorporated and then add the cream, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, peas, and herbs. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking, slice the red potatoes into 1/8 inch rounds (I used a mandolin). Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan over medium heat and then toss with the sliced potatoes, the remaining salt and pepper, and the parmesan. Set aside until it’s time to assemble the pot pies.
Divide the vegetable filling between the pie plates (depending on the size of your pie plates, you may have leftover filling) and then layer the potato slices over the top of the vegetable filling. Place on a sheet tray and bake in the oven for 30 — 40 minutes, or until the tops are crispy and golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit, uncovered, for about 10 minutes and then serve.