THYME & WHITE BEAN POT PIES

January 29, 2016

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Mary Beth Johnson is a wife and mum to four schooners, as she's dubbed her children. On a normal afternoon, you would find her in moccasins, skinny jeans and a comfortable tee, camera in hand. Recently moving to the suburbs of Atlanta, Mary Beth spends her days homeschooling, sneaking away to the bookstore, trying to act the part of a southerner, and sifting through recipes in The Vegetarian Times. Food is her love language.

It is finally cold enough in the south to make some soups and stews and not feel ridiculous. I bought a crockpot (newsflash!) and I've been getting those huge bags of carrots and onions at Costco and going to town with them. 

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I will say, I am on my longest streak of meal planning I've ever been on. Despite growing up in a large family, the main event was never dinner and I don't remember us really planning other than Sunday afternoons, so I struggle often with whether family meals should be a thing or not. It sounds so good in theory, but I just downloaded one of those time tracker apps and found that I cooked for two hours last night. 2 hours! Am I doing something wrong?
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The more I practice, the more shortcuts I find. Like, freezing leftover chicken stock and cooking ground sausage ahead for pasta dishes. Or cooking chicken breasts at the beginning of the week and then using them in salads, soups, and other one-pot dinners for upcoming meals. My older vegetarian self would simply die, but I am learning to love this new phase of cooking.
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We still eat vegetarian about fifty percent of the time and I ran across these white bean and sage pot pies and knew we had to try them. Sometimes, I like to test things out on my husband to see if he misses the meat. These were so savory simmered in wine, that I don't think he even noticed! Don't be surprised if you find yourself reheating the leftovers and eating these for breakfast the next morning. They are absolutely heart warming.
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Ever since I started making the Pioneer Woman's pie crust, I will jump at the chance to make my own for a dish. The recipe makes three crusts and works for either sweet or savory. I freeze my extra crusts and I can tell you it's so nice to have them on hand when I need them! 

 //THYME & WHITE BEAN POT PIES 
 Serves 6 

 FILLING 
2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil 
1 large white or yellow onion (150 g), finely diced 
Salt + Pepper to taste 
1 pound (453 g) carrots, peeled and finely chopped 
1/4 cup (34 g) unbleached all purpose flour 
optional: 1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine (or sub more vegetable broth) 
3 cups (720 ml) vegetable broth 
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (or sub 1 tsp dried)
 1 15-ounce (425 g) can white beans, rinsed and drained 

 CRUST 
 1-1/2 cups Crisco (vegetable shortening) 
 3 cups all-purpose flour 
 1 whole egg 
 5 tablespoons cold water 
 1 tablespoon white vinegar
 1 teaspoon salt 

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and arrange 6 ramekins on a baking sheet. Set aside. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil and onion. Season with a pinch each salt and pepper and stir. Sauté until soft and translucent - 4-5 minutes. Add carrots and season with a pinch more salt and pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes, then add flour and stir well to thoroughly coat. Cook for 1 minute, then slowly add white wine (optional) followed by vegetable broth, whisking to prevent clumps. Add thyme and white beans and bring the mixture to a simmer. Then lower heat to low and simmer for a few minutes. Cover and remove from heat while preparing crust. In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Separate the dough into thirds. 


***Note: Separating it into thirds will result in three thin crusts. If you prefer a more substantial crust, separate it in half.

*** Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.) When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut into 6 large squares slightly larger than the size of your ramekins. At this time, scoop the white bean filling into the ramekins until almost entirely full (reserve any leftovers to enjoy as soup or future pot pies). Use a lightly floured spatula to scoop each pie crust square onto a ramekin. Repeat until all ramekins are covered. Use a knife or toothpick to create small holes in the top of the pie crust to allow steam to escape. Bake pot pies for 35-40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the pie crust is golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month. Reheat in a 350 degree F (176 C ) oven until completely warmed through.