I have adored mushrooms ever since I started cooking them properly. There’s a scene in Julie and Julia where Julie is cooking in her tiny kitchen. To paraphrase, she’s just learned that you shouldn’t “crowd the mushrooms, otherwise they won’t brown.” She exclaims that she’s been cooking mushrooms wrong her whole life. When I first read the book (and later saw the movie) and saw that passage, I had the same “aha!” moment. Since then I’ve always been very careful not to “crowd the mushrooms” because the browning really develops a much deeper flavor.
I had mushrooms on the brain all last week. I bought these creminis at the grocery store last weekend without a single plan. I had lots of half plans. I was thinking mushroom stroganoff, a creamy mushroom sauce on ravioli, or maybe some kind of mushroom and kale stew. Paging through this month’s Real Simple, I saw a recipe for mushroom pot pie. I normally don’t give a second thought to the Real Simple recipes because they usually just have a single token vegetarian recipe per issue. Still, I had mushrooms, and mushroom pot pie sounded like perfect comfort food. I started out intending to follow their recipe, but by the time I was done tweaking and improving, it was a totally different (but better!) dish. Also, I’d just gotten some perfect single sized ramekins, so I did these as individual servings instead of one large dish.
The mushroom filling was so good all on its own. It reminded me a little of my favorite mushroom onion gravy. Some of my tweaks and additions to the recipe were definitely inspired by that recipe.
A single sheet of puff pastry will still be too much for this recipe, but just think of all the wonderful things you can do with the extra puff pastry. The first time I just layered the extra pieces in another ramekin with cinnamon sugar and had it for dessert. In subsequent tries at this recipe, I made mini apple pies with the extra puff pastry. Definitely go this route, and you’ll love the leftovers!
The puffed golden brown crust looked gorgeous, but on every trial of this recipe the puff pastry crust wasn’t as flaky as I would have liked. Homemade crust would undoubtedly be better than store bought puff pastry, but the purchased crust is still pretty tasty, and so easy.
Not being perfectly pleased with the puff pastry actually led to a brilliant brainstorm. Everything’s better with mashed potatoes right? During one of my trials, I topped the mushroom filling with mashed potatoes instead of puff pastry for a spin on shepherd’s pie. The baked potatoes were golden and crusty on the outside, but then soft and fluffy when you dig in, and they soak up the filling perfectly.
Mushroom Pot Pie
This recipe makes two individual pot pies in 12 oz ramekins. If you’re cooking for just yourself, one will easily keep in the fridge overnight and you can just bake it the next day. The filling is actually so rich and tasty that I’d eat it all by itself.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8-10 large cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, chopped
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove of garlic, diced
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 sheet of puff pastry
- 1 cup mashed potatoes
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Brown your mushrooms in 1 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat, and flip them after 4 minutes. Once you’ve set them down in the pan, don’t move them around except to flip them, so they get a good browned crust.
- Add the carrot, celery, onion, garlic and rosemary to the pan with the mushrooms and stir. Allow this mixture to cook for another 5-7 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
- Add the wine to the pan and stir. Then add the vegetable broth, and let the filling cook for another 5 min.
- Stir in the nutritional yeast.
- Whisk together the flour and the additional tablespoon of olive oil until you have a smooth mixture. Add this to the filling and stir. (add salt and pepper to taste here as needed)
- Cook for another few minutes until the mixture has thickened. (if you’re topping with mashed potatoes instead of puff pastry, skip down)
- Cut out two circles of puff pastry for your crust. I just used the ramekins to trace out the right size.
- Grease the two ramekins with butter or a little bit of olive oil.
- Divide the thickened filling (the liquid should have the consistency of thick gravy), between the two ramekins.
- Place a the circles of puff pastry on top of each ramekin, and cut small slits in the top for ventilation.
- Bake for 15-20 min, or until the crust is puffed and golden brown.
If you’re topping with mashed potatoes instead of puff pastry:
8. Grease the two ramekins and divide the cooked filling evenly between the ramekins.
9. Top each ramekin with a thick layer of mashed potatoes.
10. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until the mashed potatoes are golden brown.
Have you ever reinvented a classic comfort food recipe?