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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.

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13 Responses to “Saffron Duck Pot Pie”

  1. Nick says:

    I’m saving this recipe for 3 weeks; my father and I have birthdays on consecutive days (Jan 23 & 24) and I believe the plan is to roast a goose. I suspect I might be able to convince him to use some of the leftovers to make a version of this. And I bet we could save the fat from the pan drippings, and use that as the fat in the crust as well.

    As for Sweeney Todd, I loved it. The score was great, and the visuals of London were nicely over the top. The acting was very well done all around, but Johnny Depp steals the show, as one might expect. The only thing I might caution you about is the level of violence. Even knowing the basics of the plot beforehand, there were some moments that shocked me, and the person I was with found it difficult to enjoy the movie because of the level of gore.

  2. mr.ed says:

    Okay, ya got me at the lard part. Mine’ll be almost as good with a more healthy substitute. Got the duck today. Tomorrow: Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeehaw!
    We saw Sweeney last week. Bloody good, I say.

  3. Helen says:

    I totally agree with you about the lard in the pastry -I think it is absolutely essential – the pastry is always flakier and yummier. I also love the star shapes!

  4. Sorina says:

    Everything on that plate looks amazing!

  5. ejm says:

    Mmmm, this sounds good! Amazingly, we have duck stock (we splashed out and had duck last night) but I doubt that we will be getting duck again soon. It’s not cheap. I wonder if using chicken thigh meat only would be a good substitute for the duck in in the filling.

    Cool idea to add cinnamon to the pastry. And definitely, lard is a must for pastry too. We were lucky enough to find leaf lard at one of the local markets! I’ve tried substituting olive oil – the resulting pastry is good but just doesn’t have quite the same light and flaky quality.


  6. APC says:

    I clicked through to this blog from Never Bashful With Butter, and it is GORGEOUS. I don’t even LIKE duck and now I want to go home and make a duck pot pie.

  7. Danielle says:

    Nick – That sounds great! Happy birthday to both of you!

    I’m fine with gore – Pan’s Labyrinth was the best movie I saw in the past few years, after all. But I appreciate the warning.

    mr.ed – Enjoy! And thanks for the movie feedback.

    Helen – It sure is. We tried all lard, and it was awful. But half lard, half butter seems just about perfect to me.

    Sorina – Thank you!

    ejm – I think chicken thigh meat would be a fine substitute, and definitely worth trying. I’ve tried making pie crust with olive oil, too, but while I really liked the flavor of it, I just wasn’t too impressed by the texture.

    APC – Thank you so much!

  8. katy says:

    saffron and duck? i am sold. even when i was a 100% gung ho vegetarian with no exceptions, i still ate a little bit of duck every once in a while!

  9. katy says:

    PS — Funny story on Pan’s Labarinth — somehow I got it into my head that it was a kid’s movie, I’m not sure how. But the movie cover didn’t really change my mind, and I didn’t read the back very closely, because I’d heard it was wonderful so I just rented it. Fifteen minutes into the movie, I’m sitting there thinking to myself, “what kind of a sick kid’s movie IS this?!?” I loved it, of course, but it was definitely not what I was expecting!

  10. Tartelette says:

    Love the idea of cinnamon in the crust, goes perfectly with the duck! The pastry looks absolutely delicious!

  11. Hey D! You’re photos are looking mighty fine. AWESOME.

  12. Danielle says:

    katy – That’s hilarious. I hope no parents out there made the same mistake!

    Tartelette, steamy kitchen – Thanks!

  13. [...] 2008: Saffron Duck Pot Pie 2007: Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins Rosemary Noodles with Pigeon Essences (from Chez Panisse [...]

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