Winging It

On an average week, I typically use recipes from my beautiful collection of cookbooks. I can cook without them, but for me it’s about the exploration and trying new things and getting inspiration from different recipes that I really love. Eventually, after so many dishes, you build a great knowledge of flavors and profiles and techniques to use on your own.

This is, in my humble opinion, what separates the home cook from the chef. I will be the first to tell you, I am a hard-core home cook. The Mr and I really enjoy watching Top Chef et al., but I have no ambitions of ever making an appearance on those shows. I would cry from nervousness, time would get the better of me, I would get yelled at, and did I mention I would cry? On the other hand, I have an acquaintance at church who I look up to and admire immensely. She’s culinary-school-trained and never uses recipes. After a conversation with her yesterday morning and some inspiration from Euna Mae‘s post on Instagram yesterday afternoon, I was inspired to “wing it” for dinner.

I was already planning on throwing some venison in my Pioneer Woman edition Instant Pot for salads yesterday, but Euna Mae’s post about chasing away the cold with a pot pie had me thinking. I may not have had pie crust, but I had everything I needed to make a biscuit-topped pot pie… This is the most “winging it-est” dish I think I’ve ever made and it came out perfectly!

In the Instant Pot stir together:
> 2-2.5 venison roast seasoned all over with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (you can use any meat you choose, but you will need to adjust your pressure-cooking time accordingly. Here is a handy chart.)
> 1/4c of tomato sauce combined with 1/2c water (you can use a whole 8oz can of tomato sauce if you choose.)
> 1/4 of an onion, roughly chopped
> A generous sprinkling/pinch of Italian seasoning
Place the lid on the machine and set the valve to “sealing.” Select “manual” and enter the time desired. (I did 30min, but it ideally should’ve been more like 20min. The gravy for the pie saved this from being over-dry.) When the timer is up, move the valve to “venting” and allow to vent for 10min.

Step 2: While the Instant Pot is going, heat a couple tablespoons of cooking oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add 1-1.5c of frozen, mixed vegetables of choice and season with salt & pepper. (I always have some frozen, mixed veg on hand because whenever a recipe calls for a certain vegetable, it never seems to use all of what I’ve bought. Instead of wasting it, I chop it up and add it to a big container/freezer bag of “catch-all” mixed, chopped vegetables for later uses like this!) Stir & cook the vegetables for about 3-5min until they are tender, but still vibrant. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a large bowl and set aside.

Step 3: After venting the Instant Pot, remove the meat to a cutting board and shred with 2 forks. Add the shredded meat and the onions (reserving the jus from the pot) to the vegetable mixture. Set aside and preheat the oven to 350°.

Step 4: Return the pan to heat saving the rest of the juices from the veg (if any) and drop in 2-3tbsp of butter. Allow the butter to melt completely. When it’s foamy, whisk in 2-3tbsp of flour and a generous pinch of fresh thyme (a sprinkling of dried will work too). It should make a thick paste (aka roux). Add more flour if needed to thicken. Cook this paste a couple minutes until it darkens a little and then whisk in the jus from the Instant Pot. It should become a thick, dark gravy. If it’s too thick, you can splash in 1/4c of liquid of choice at a time (water, broth, milk, cream, cooking wine. All good choices and will impart different flavors depending on what you use.) until you reach the consistency you want. Continue to cook, stirring for 2-3min. Transfer the gravy to the veg/meat bowl and stir to incorporate all ingredients.

Step 5: Transfer to a pie dish or square baking dish.
In a small bowl combine:
>1c biscuit mix
>2-3tbsp of shortening
>1/2c milk or cream
>2 large eggs.
You can use more or less of each ingredient to get the consistency you desire, but you’ll have to keep an eye on your baking time. Gently drop rounded spoonfuls onto the top of the meat mixture in the dish and when you’ve used all the batter, gently spread the batter on top to make one large disc atop the pie. (If you don’t reach the edges of the dish, that’s ok.) Sprinkle 1c of shredded Parmesan on top and pop in the oven for 10min. When the 10min is up, turn the broiler on high and broil for 3-5min (watch to make sure the top doesn’t burn.)

Step 6: Remove from the oven and allow to cool 5min. Enjoy!

What are your favorite pot pie fillings?

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