Saffron Duck Pot Pie
Here is a meat pie to warm and satisfy you, now that winter has come and I am waiting on the edge of my seat for the first real snowstorm of the year. Loosely inspired by Moroccan basteeya, this pot pie marries a rich and savory meaty filling with traditionally sweet spices, and you can sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top if you like to heighten the effect.
I only post recipes I actually like, but I have to tell you that this one makes it to my list of personal favorites. Dave and I made one of these pies at first, and the next night we couldn’t resist making another few to last us for the rest of the week.
The crust is made with lard and butter, resulting in an extravagantly light and flaky pastry that contrasts well with the luscious filling.
And speaking of meat pie, has anyone seen Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd yet? I saw Sweeney Todd on Broadway a few years ago, and wasn’t very impressed by the production, but the story is fun and Johnny Depp is usually wonderful in all that he does.
Anyways, I suspect this pie tastes better made with duck than it would if it were made with your neighbors. And for best flavor, I suggest making it with duck, with the help and company of your neighbors.
Saffron Duck Pot Pie
2 C chicken or duck stock
3 big pinches saffron (threads)
1 pekin duck (about 5 lbs)
3 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cayenne
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for sauteing
Juice from 1 1/2 lemons
Cinnamon pie crust (recipe below)
Prepare the pie crust as described in the recipe below, then leave it in the fridge to rest until needed.
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Warm up the stock, and add in the saffron, leaving it to steep.
Remove all external fat and skin from the duck and set aside. You should absolutely render the fat and skin to have tasty, tasty duck fat around the house. Cut it all up into little chunks, put it in a pot with some water, and simmer for hours. When that’s done, strain and refrigerate. The next day, you can skim the fat off the top, and enjoy both that and the duck stock that will have gelled on the bottom. The fat and skin can be refrigerated if you don’t have time to go through this process immediately.
Break down the duck into 7 pieces: 2 legs/thighs, 2 breasts, 2 wings, and the rest of the carcass. Lightly salt them all.
Roast the duck for about 40-50 minutes, taking out pieces as they are done (when the juices run clear, that is).
Let the duck pieces rest 15 minutes or so to cool down, then shred the meat. Save the neck and bones in your freezer to make stock (or make it immediately, if you prefer).
In a small saucepan, saute the onion in olive oil until golden. Remove the onion from the pan and transfer it to a large bowl. Mix in the shredded duck, spices, and cilantro, and set aside.
Whisk the flour and olive oil together in the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it is nice and thick and just barely golden, still fairly pale. This is your roux. Slowly add the saffron-steeped stock to the roux, whisking it all together as you go.
Raise the oven to 500 F.
Prepare your pie tins by buttering them, sprinkling flour over them, and then shaking out any extra flour. I really think this is tastiest made in smaller, deep-dish tins – the pies pictures above were only about 2-3 servings each.
Roll out the pie dough about 1/8″ thick and line the pie tins with it.
Fill the pies with the meat mixture. Add juice of 1 1/2 lemon (spread out among multiple pies as necessary). Pour the sauce over the meat. Cover with a top crust, and poke a few holes in it to release steam.
When you put the pie in the oven, lower the heat to 425 F. Bake until top crust is pale gold, about 25 minutes. At that point, rotate the pie from front to back (to even out the baking), reduce the heat to 375 F, and bake an additional 30-35 minutes until the crust is deep golden brown and it is done.
Cinnamon Pie Crust
12 1/2 oz flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 C lard
12 tbsp (3/4 C, or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
6-8 tbsp cold water
Mix the dry ingredients in a food processor. Add the lard, and process until sandy. Add the butter, and process until you have pea-sized lumps.
Pour the dough out into a bowl. Add 6 tbsp cold water. Press the dough against the sides of the bowl with a spatula to combine. If needed, add up to the remaining 2 tbsp cold water.
Flatten into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until needed.