I’m an obsessive holiday decorator. Particularly when it comes to Halloween and Christmas.
When the Hubster and I first married, I think it freaked him out a little. He came home from work one day to find cobwebs draped over just about every surface, bats and black cats perched wherever I could balance them, and spooky, glow-in-the-dark window clings stuck to everything they’d stick to, including the TV and the aquarium.
I was only 22 at the time, we were living in Texas, and I was so excited…obviously. I could hardly wait to carve jack-o-lanterns together, and decided that they would be done as early as possible.
Now, in case you didn’t already know, I grew up in Indiana. In Indiana, you can carve pumpkins relatively early, because it’s quite cool there in october, and although Hoosiers may disagree, it’s not that humid (trust me, it’s not…especially compared to Texas).
By my way of thinking, the second week or so of October was the perfect time to carve pumpkins. And in Indiana, it usually is. Not. In. Texas.
The Hubster tried to tell me it was too early, but I thought he was just being a party pooper. I said, “No way! It’s never too early for jack-o-lanterns! We always carve ours right around this time.” <—-I said it all big and smily like that.
I’m still not 100% sure if I convinced him or if he just decided to play along so I’d learn (I suspect the latter), but he let me carve a huge pumpkin into this wicked grinning jack. I’m talking huge.
I was so proud of it, I even took pictures. I stil have one around here somewhere.
It’s probably a good thing I took those pictures, because my giant, leering jack-o-lantern turned to a black, moldy, rotting mess before the week ended.
I’m not even kidding.
I was so confused. I mean, how could carved pumpkins in Indiana last for weeks, and this one didn’t even last for days?? If the Hubster was trying to teach me a lesson, I got it (the lesson was that pumpkins and humidity don’t mix, by the way, not that I should listen to him because he knows what he’s talking about…).
Since that time, we’ve lived in much more jack-o-lantern friendly places, but we’ve also lived in even less jack-o-lantern friendly places, so I’ve learned that it’s really best to approach Fall and Halloween with food instead.
So I make lots of Fall food, starting in early September, until I can’t hold out anymore, and I just have to put my Halloween decorations up.
I’m really good at holding out on the pumpkin carving, though. Cleaning up one black and rotting pumpkin was enough for me, thankyouverymuch.
My latest Fall-food-to-tide-me-over-until-it’s-acceptable-to-hang-bats-from-the-ceiling is this amazing beef pot pie. You need to make it. Trust me.
Before we get into the hearty, delicious filling, let’s get our pie crust made and out of the way. The dough has to chill for at least a couple of hours before we need it, and the filling needs to simmer for at least an hour, so it just makes sense to get it out of the way.
I always use the same pie dough recipe for pot pies. It’s the same one from my chicken pot pie recipe, it makes two crusts, and it’s perfect every time. Visit the previous link for step-by-step photos and instructions. Otherwise, the recipe is below.
The dry ingredients are just all-purpose flour, paprika, garlic (fresh or powdered), bay leaves, salt, and pepper.
You also need beef, of course, but raw meat is grody, so I didn’t take a picture of it.
Once the filling is made, it simmers on the lowest possible setting for about an hour. This will soften the potatoes and veggies, and allow the spices to blend and become more flavorful.
Assembling the pies is as simple as rolling out half the crust and lining the dish(es) that you’re using, add the filling (dividing it evenly if you’re making individual pot pies), and roll out the remaining dough to top the pie(s).
Now, they just bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is a beautiful golden brown.
This is the perfect Fall dinner recipe. It’s easy (and even easier if you want to buy ready-made pie dough), and it’s delicious. What more could you ask for? I mean, aside from having a personal chef who whips up all of your favorite dishes on command. Besides that, what more could you ask for?
P.S. I prefer to make these individually, but the recipe is also excellent in a 9×13 baking dish, using one pie crust on the bottom, and one on top. The crust for this recipe can be made up to two days in advance, so that you only have to whip up the filling when you’re ready to make this.
Beef Pot Pie
Makes 1 9×13 pie
FOR THE CRUST
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons shortening, cold
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, cut into small chunks
6-8 tablespoons cold water
FOR THE FILLING
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 of a medium sized onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced, or a dozen or so whole baby carrots
1 celery stalk, sliced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, or 2 cloves, minced
1/4 cup red wine (optional)
3 cups beef broth
2 small bay leaves
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1.5 lbs. stew beef, cut into bite sized pieces
To make the crust: In a food processor, mix the dry ingredients for a couple of seconds to combine, then drop the shortening evenly on top in chunks. Process until the mixture looks like wet sand. Evenly distribute the butter on top and pulse until the mixture has pea sized chunks in it. If mixing by hand, cut the cold shortening in with a fork or dough blender, again until it resembles wet sand. Then cut the butter in until you have pea sized pieces.
If using a processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Add about 6 tablespoons cold water and begin mixing with a spatula. Using a spatula, mix the dough by ‘folding’ from bottom to top and pressing down with each fold, adding more water if the dough is too dry.
Once the mixture has just formed a dough, turn it out onto a very lightly floured surface. As quickly as possible, finish bringing the dough together by hand, kneading as little as possible.
Divide the dough in half evenly and shape into two disks, roughly 4 inches across. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or over night.
To make the filling: In a small bowl, combine the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper; set aside.
Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in the onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes; saute the vegetables until softened, 7-10 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for 20-30 seconds. Stir in the flour mixture. Slowly add the red wine. Stir in the beef broth about one cup at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the bay leaves; simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add more salt and pepper to taste; stir in the beef and cook on lowest heat setting for another 60 to 90 minutes (1 to 1 1/2 hours), stirring frequently.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Remove your one of your disks of pie dough from the refrigerator and roll it out to about a quarter inch thick. If you’re making one large pie, roll the dough in a rectangular shape and line the bottom of your pan with it. If you’re making individual pies, place your containers on the rolled out dough and trace them with a paring knife. The pieces you cut will be the bottom of your pie. Use the leftover scraps of dough to line the sides of your container(s).
Fill you container(s) with the pie filling.
Roll out your second piece of dough, cover your pie(s) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe by Darla