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Pancetta, White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies


From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

One of the food blogs I love to follow is the Smitten Kitchen.  If you’re not familiar with it be sure to check it out.  Written by Deb Perelman, a wife and mother of one, she manages to make incredible food out of her teenie NYC apt which is even more inspiring!   I recently came across this incredibly delicious comforting winter recipe and couldn’t wait to make it.  It was unanimously a hit and I’m looking forward to making it again…possibly with some sausage added to make it even more hearty.  You can easily omit the pancetta to make it vegetarian.

Serves 4

Lid

  • 2 cups (250 grams) all- purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 13 tablespoons (185 grams or 1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 6 tablespoons (90 grams) sour cream or whole Greek yogurt (i.e., a strained 
yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) ice water
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Filling

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
  • 4 ounces (115 grams or 3/4 to 1 cup) 1/4-inch-diced pancetta
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Thinly sliced Swiss chard leaves from an 8- to 10-ounce (225- to 285-gram)
 bundle (4 cups); if leaves are very wide, you can halve them lengthwise
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (50 grams) butter
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (25 grams) all- purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups (765 ml) sodium- free or low- sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups white beans, cooked and drained, or from one and a third 15.5- ounce 
(440-gram) cans

Make lids:

In a large, wide bowl (preferably one that you can get your hands into), combine the flour and salt. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut them up and into the flour mixture until it resembles little pebbles. Keep breaking up the bits of butter until the texture is like uncooked couscous.

In a small dish, whisk together the sour cream, vinegar, and water, and combine it with the butter-flour mixture. Using a flexible spatula, stir the wet and the dry together until a craggy dough forms. If needed, get your hands into the bowl to knead it a few times into one big ball. Pat it into a flattish ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Make filling:

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium- high heat in a large, wide saucepan, and then add the pancetta. Brown the pancetta, turning it frequently, so that it colors and crisps on all sides; this takes about 10 minutes. Remove it with a slotted spoon, and drain it on paper towels before transferring to a medium bowl. Leave the heat on and the renderings in the pan. Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil if needed and heat it until it is shimmering. Add onions, carrot, celery, red pepper flakes, and a few pinches of salt, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are softened and begin to take on color, about 7 to 8 minutes.

Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the greens and cook until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with the additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Transfer all of the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the pancetta, and set aside.

Make sauce:

Wipe out the large saucepan; don’t worry if any bits remain stuck to the bottom. Then melt the butter in the saucepan over medium- low heat. Add the flour, and stir with a whisk until combined. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring the whole time, until it begins to take on a little color. Whisk in the broth, one ladleful at a time, mixing completely between additions. Once you’ve added one- third of the broth, you can begin to add the rest more quickly, two to three ladlefuls at a time; at this point you can scrape up any bits that were stuck to the bottom — they’ll add great flavor.

Once all of the broth is added, stirring the whole time, bring the mixture to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. Cook the sauce until it is thickened and gravylike, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the white beans and reserved vegetables into the sauce.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Assemble and cook pot pies:

Divide the filling between four ovenproof 2-cup bowls. (You’ll have about 1 1/2 cups filling in each.) Set the bowls on a baking pan.

Divide the dough into four pieces, and roll it out into rounds that will cover your bowls with an overhang, or about 1 inch wider in diameter than your bowls. Whisk the egg wash and brush it lightly around the top rim of your bowls (to keep the lid glued on; nobody likes losing their lid!) and drape the pastry over each, pressing gently to adhere it. Brush the lids with egg wash, then cut decorative vents (small as they led to lots of draping) in each to help steam escape.

Bake until crust is lightly bronzed and filling is bubbling, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Do ahead:

The dough, wrapped twice in plastic wrap and slipped into a freezer bag, will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge, and for a couple months in the freezer. The filling can be made up to a day in advance and stored in a covered container in the fridge.

Braised Lamb Shanks (Kokkinisto me Manestra)

Recipe courtesy of Kokkari

Lamb is a staple in any Greek household and this recipe will make you fall in love if you aren’t already.  You can make this a day ahead which helps the spices mellow and flavors improve.  It’s a very hearty dish perfect for a night when you’re craving comfort food and something to warm your tummy.

Serves 6

Ingredients

Spice Mix

  • 1 tablespoon each ground allspice, ground toasted cumin, ground nutmeg, Spanish smoked sweet paprika and garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 6 lambs shanks, 1 1/2 pounds each
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 whole garlic bulb, cut across stem end to expose cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup Italian tomato paste
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 6-inch sprig fresh rosemary
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
  • Chunk of myzithra or ricotta salata cheese for serving

In a small bowl, combine the spice mix ingredients.  Rub the shanks all over with the spice mix, coating them evenly.  (You can cover and refrigerate them for up to 24 hours.)  Preheat the oven to 350ªF.  Season the shanks well with salt and pepper.  In a large pot, heat the olive oil over high heat.  Working in batches, sear the shanks on all sides until well browned, about 5 minutes per shank.  Transfer to a platter.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the wine and stir to scrape up any browned bits.  Raise the heat to high and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and herbs.

Return the shanks to the pot, meaty end down.  They will fit snuggly.  Add water to come halfway up the sides of the shanks.  Bring to a simmer and stir in 2 teaspoons salt and several grinds of pepper.  Cover tightly and bake until the meat is fork-tender and pulls away from the bone, about 2 1/2 hours.  Let cool in the pot, then refrigerate overnight if desired.

Skim all surface fat.  If refrigerated, reheat the shanks over medium heat.  Discard the bay leaves and herb sprigs.  Remove the garlic, and when it is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves back into the post.  Set aside and keep the shanks warm.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the orzo until al dente, according to package directions.  Drain and return to the same pot.  Add about 1 1/2 cups of broth from the lamb shanks and stir well.  Divide the orzo among 6 shallow bowls.  Top each portion with a lamb shank, then spoon some of the juices over the lamb.  On the large holes of a box grater, grate myzithra to taste over the lamb and orzo.

Serve immediately.

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