Savory and elegant, crab pot pies are one of my favorite cozy foods for a cold and dreary day. They sound decadent, but are actually not very expensive to make because I use claw meat rather than lump crab meat, which is about half of the cost. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, but you use only a pinch in this recipe and it is quite lovely. You could cut cost by making a simple pie dough. I have done this before, but I prefer the puff of pastry dough. These are impressive and you could easily wow your guests if you decided to entertain with them. All you need to round out the meal is a simple green salad and a glass of wine. Perfection.
Crab Pot Pies
1 1/2 c leeks, rinsed and chopped
1 c chopped fennel
1 c sliced mushrooms (I use crimini.)
1 c chopped carrots
3/4 c chopped celery
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c white wine
3 T flour
1 c whole milk
2 c unsalted vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
8 oz crab claw meat
pinch of saffron
1 t fresh thyme
juice of half a lemon
sea salt and black pepper
1 sheet puff pastry
1 lightly beaten egg
1. Remove puff pastry from the freezer and follow package directions for thawing. Usually it needs to sit on the counter for 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add leeks and a tiny pinch of salt and black pepper. Saute and stir for a minute or two. Add fennel and tiny pinch of salt. Saute for a minute or two. Keep adding veggies one at a time, giving each a tiny bit of salt and a minute of glory. Stir often. The technique of adding a bit of salt and giving a bit of time to each vegetable helps to retain the individual flavors, but be mindful of your salt. You don’t want to add too much. Finally add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
3. Sprinkle flour over veggies. Stir and cook for 1 minute. It will look like a mess; don’t worry. Add wine, milk and stock at once. Stir like mad to get all the flour distributed throughout the pot. Add bay leaf. Bring the liquid to almost a boil, then reduce heat. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally as sauce thickens. Add crab, thyme and lemon juice. Remove bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasonings to your pallet. Your filling is now complete.
4. Using flour and a rolling pin, gently roll out pastry. Cut it so it will cover your 8oz ramekins by a 1/2 inch border. Fill ramekins. Use a pastry brush to apply the beaten egg to the edges. Place pastry over the ramekins and press so that it sticks. Brush remaining egg mixture over the pastry and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. This will give an elegant, golden appearance to your pot pies. Poke small air vents into the pastry in a decorative manner.
5. Because the mixture is fully cooked, you are really just cooking the pastry to golden brown. This will take about 15 minutes at 400°. Place your ramekins on a baking sheet for ease of baking and to catch random spills.
6. This is a dish best served warm, so eat right away. Enjoy!