Crappie Pot Pies
by Vernon Summerlin
You’ll love the convenience of making crappie pot pies then taking some from your freezer, baking and serving them – if you can wait that long. Or just skip the freezing and go straight to the baking and eating. Or mo’ better yet, make a gaggle of them so you can eat now and save a batch for later. They’re easy to concoct and certainly are a convenient comfort food.
But before we get to the goodies of making pot pies, which is a deep-dish of meat (or meats), sauce (or gravy) and a variety of veggies within a pastry crust, here’s a little more info about them. Merriam-Webster (whomever she is) says to spell it “potpie”. Until now I hadn’t thought about how it was spelled. Pot pie pops in my mind as two words and that’s the way I write it.
No matter the spelling, these are historical items for the table and have a long history traipsing back to the Roman Empire when they were served at banquets, sometimes with live birds under the crust, if you can believe it. That must have startled unwary guests.
Later, in the 16th Century, the English gentry revived the ancient custom of meat pies. In fact, Britons of that era consumed meat pies of all sorts, including pork, lamb, fish and wild game. They were especially fond of bird pies during the reign of Elizabeth I when cooks made pot pies using chicken peepers, which consisted of tiny chicks stuffed with gooseberries. Around the middle of the 16th Century, recipes, trying to out-do all others, featured five stuffed birds, one inside the other and then wrapped in dough. This trend toward the fantastically grotesque pies reached its “peep” when copying the ancient Romans to make pies that live birds flew out when its crust was opened.
The fondness for versatile meat pies continued to spread to the new world and in the 19th century, Americans became smitten of a pie that featured robins. As settlers moved westward, they took along their recipes. By the present century pot pies of various meats have become as American as apple pie (which was first baked in 1381 in the England).
So now, let us introduce you to Crappie Pot Pies.
- 5 to 2 pounds of skinless crappie chunks
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups seafood stock or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup low fat cream cheese (softened)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 1 tablespoon milk or beaten egg to glaze pastry
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Heat the oil in large frying pan and add chopped onion. Sauté for 2 minutes until softened or longer when adding more veggies. Add flour to the onion and stir well, then cook for a minute. Combine the broth or stock and cream cheese, then slowly pour it over the onion mixture. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 5-6 minutes until very thick.
Remove the pan from the heat then add in the fish chunks, lemon juice, herbs and seasonings. Use the top of one of your ramekin to cut out 4 disks from the pastry sheet. Spoon the fish mixture into the 4 ramekins and top each with a pastry disk. Use a sharp knife to pierce the top of each pie and then use a pastry brush to glaze the top of each pie with a little bit of milk or beaten egg. Bake the pies for 20-25 minutes until golden and puffed up.