Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Charleston Style Seafood Pot Pie, Newburg and She Crab Collide!

So it's winter and it's really cold up here in this piece of New York city! And when it is cold like this I think there are few things that make people smile more than hot yummy rib sticking comfort food. But of all the comfort foods that people seem to react to pot pies seem to scream comfort for most folks. Kids love them, adults love them total win in the family cooking plan. Now I actually did not grow up with the individual pot pies that brands like Marie Callender's restaurants offer in the freezer section of a grocery store near you. I did grow up with casserole style pot pies. And this communal kind of eating was sharing of the best kind.

I also have to admit that pot pies in the south are not as popular as they are in the midwest and the northeast. We love our creamed chicken over biscuits and chicken and dumplings but pot pie is sort of, mostly, as I stated earlier, a casserole occasion if it happens at all. Along with chicken pot pie, seafood pie is of course one of the dishes that I am familiar with from the low country. It's sort of a throwback to the colonial days when English colonists brought the English "fish pie" to the new world. Pot pies in general are all based in English cookery. Fish pie in English cooking is made with white fish plentiful in the waters off Great Britain. Sometimes it includes both fresh and smoked fish to amp up the flavor of the pie. As the pie took root in the kitchens of colonial America, the seafood evolved into mostly a shellfish based pie. Shrimp and crab were popular in the southern states and lobster and scallops in the northern states.

So when I started looking at pot pie and winter comfort food the other day I decided that I wanted to make a pot pie that merged two of my favorite things, she crab soup and seafood newburg. I have a recipe for seafood pie from my grandmother that I copied out of her hand written cookbook. It is pretty classic but what I love about it is it uses a take on the "holy trinity" which is the base of most southern stew like cooking. It includes celery, onions and normally green peppers. Unlike the french base which includes carrots the "holy trinity" came about in southern cooking because carrots did not grow easily in the coastal areas especially around New Orleans where so much of the culinary customs we follow today were started.

So the take on the trinity is that my grandmother substituted red pepper for the green pepper. Now this I found interesting because red pepper is such a natural with crab, like in crab cakes. The mild flavor and wonderful color are exactly what you want in a seafood stew where the flavors meld together. So she obviously had thought about that. Now her recipe is for a casserole style seafood pie. I wanted to make individual pies cause I have the baking dishes. But I used the base of the recipe and added my own ideas.

So in a nutshell, I used crab and shrimp as the seafood. I used seafood stock and flour with a little butter to make a voloute, which is a light french style sauce. And I added some parmesan cheese in homage to southern style seafood casseroles. Herbs, Old Bay and sherry add classic flavors and a thyme, salt and pepper pie crust add an extra layer of flavor. So here is a recipe for my Charleston Style Seafood Pie, Enjoy Ya'll!

Forrest's Seafood Pie Charleston Style

Ingredients ( makes 4 individual pot pies in baking dishes)

1/2 pound frozen or fresh raw Shrimp peeled and tails off
1/2 pound Crab Meat ( Canned chilled from the Seafood Case at the grocery store)
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
3 cups seafood stock
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry
1/2 cup cream
1 prepared pie crust
sea salt and pepper
dried thyme
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese or cheddar


Melt butter in sauce pot add oil
saute onions celery and red pepper till soft add mushrooms and lightly cook
add garlic let bloom
add 2 cups of seafood stock
add spices
in a separate bowl mix flour and the reserved one cup of stock till smooth
add into pot and stir till mixture thickens and is bubbly
add cream and reduce heat to low
add sherry
taste and season if necessary
add crab and shrimp

Spoon mixture into the baking dishes sprinkle with the cheese

On a floured board roll out pie crust and sprinkle with pepper and salt flakes and dried thyme, lightly press in with hands.
Cut out into rounds to cover your baking dishes

Cover baking dishes and cut a slit if you want to get fancy cut out extra dough into fish shapes and decorate the top. Poke the top with a fork to vent.

Place on baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 mins or until crust is browned and done, serve hot.

Enjoy ya'll!!


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