SPICY SEAFOOD GUMBO POT PIE

SPICY SEAFOOD GUMBO POT PIE

Pot pie is one of those winter comfort foods that is really unmatched. A warm, creamy, thick (typically, chicken) soup-like interior with delicious vegetables topped or, better, encased in crusty, buttery pastry dough. It really wasn’t something I ate regularly growing up and always felt like such a treat.

I was trying to come up with a way to get the soul satisfaction of a pot pie but with a little more kick to it. I didn’t feel like going WAY spiced – say, with a Thai or Indian base – and yet I wanted something more. Gumbo immediately popped into mind, and that was it! All of those Creole spices, that rich thickness…gumbo pot pie was born.

I decided to go with all seafood because I actually created this recipe for some pescatarian friends of mine, but feel free to add some andouille (yum!) or whatever you like in there. I also cook the roux for this to a milk chocolate color (time saving…) though I know people who cook their roux for at least an hour and a half to get that super dark chocolate look. Finally, I make these individual-sized for fun and only put the pastry on top to keep it easy and, perhaps, slightly healthier. The gumbo is rich, spicy, hearty and has some heat to it (depending on your hot sauce and cayenne doses) and tastes amazing with bites of the pastry dough…Enjoy!

Ingredients

Yields 12 8–ounce round ramekins

1 stick unsalted butter

¾ cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsps butter

3 cups chopped onion, small dice (approximately 2 medium onions)

1 cup chopped bell or small sweet pepper, small dice (approximately 4 or 5 small sweet peppers)

¾ cup chopped celery

Creole seasoning (recipe follows, a little over 4 tbsps)*

4 or 5 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup sliced okra

½ cup peas

6 cups of chicken, seafood or vegetable stock

a few dashes of Worcestershire

a few dashes of hot sauce

2 bay leaves

½ cup sliced green onion

small handful of cilantro, finely chopped

small handful of parsley, finely chopped

½ cup heavy cream

1 ¾ lbs mixed seafood (lump crab, rock or small shrimp, bay or small scallops, shelled lobster)**

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

lemon juice to taste

1 egg (beaten with a bit of cream or water)

2 sheets of puff pastry, thawed according to package directions

Procedure

Preheat oven to 400° F.

I like to start by making the roux since it takes some time to develop color. That is, melt butter in a heavy bottomed cast-iron pan (large enough) or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk. Continue to whisk at very frequent intervals (semi-constantly) for 15 to 20 minutes until the mixture has turned a deep chocolate brown. Be careful not to burn.

In a separate skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat and add onions and a bit of salt (to draw out the moisture). Cook for about 2 minutes and add peppers, celery and creole seasoning. Cook for another 5 minutes, add minced garlic and let cook for about 30 seconds to a minute until fragrant. Remove from heat, and, if the roux is ready (good timing!), add directly to the roux.

To the cooked roux, add the onion mixture as discussed, okra, peas, stock, Worcestershire, hot sauce and bay leaves. Make sure none of the roux is stuck to the bottom or in the crevices of the pot. Bring mixture up to a boil and lower to a simmer for 20 minutes. You want it to thicken up, so leave it uncovered.

On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to about 1/8th of an inch thick. Using pastry cutters or a glass that’s larger than the diameter of your ramekins, cut out 12 circles. I like to poke holes now while it’s on a flat surface, so use a fork to poke little holes or a knife to make a few slits in each circle.

To the gumbo, add the green onions, chopped herbs, seafood and heavy cream. Adjust seasonings at this point, adding salt, pepper and a shot or two of lemon juice, if needed. Ladle gumbo evenly into ramekins.

Brush the tops of the ramekins on the outside with the beaten egg. Place puff pastry circles on top, crimp to your desired effect, and brush entirely with the egg wash. Place ramekins on baking sheets and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is brown and crusty.

*Creole Seasoning:

1 ½ tsps onion powder

1 ½ tsps garlic powder

1 ½ tsps dried oregano leaves

1 tsp dried sweet basil

1 ½ tsps dried thyme leaves

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp white pepper

¼ – ½ tsp cayenne pepper (whatever you can stand!)

½ tsp celery seed

1 tbsp sweet paprika

½ tsp ground mustard

**For the seafood, I like to use small pieces for a few reasons. (1) The seafood has to fit into the ramekins with room for all of the other great stuff, and (2) I only put the seafood in right before it goes into the oven – small pieces will cook perfectly (without overcooking) and pre-cooked items, like crab, don’t turn to mush. If you are using larger shrimp or decide to do this in a casserole dish rather than individual ramekins, adjust your cooking time accordingly.