OMGomgomgOMG!!! You GUYS!! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!!! I was actually asked for input on a menu for an actual restaurant and my dish suggestion was put on an honest-to-God menu in Edinburgh! I am not even kidding!! This is like the second greatest cooking day of my life, next to THIS ONE!! (You can tell by my prolific use of exclamation points that I am not lying on this matter. And it really was the second greatest day of my cooking life as it stands.)
Needless to say, this totally made my entire year thus far. One of my readers, Richard Waugh,( who curates his own delicious blog A Chef By Mistake) read my frustrated rambling on why there isn’t more to choose from at certain restaurants that is vegetarian friendly. We exchanged a few comments lightheartedly and then I promptly forgot about it. Time passed on and life went by when out of the blue he asked if I might want to suggest a vegetarian dish for the new menu at his restaurant, E:S;I-Englishman, Scotsman and an Irishman, where he is a principle and cook.
Would I? Is the pope Catholic?!
Needless to say, I was thrilled that A) someone was actually following Unprofessional Cookery regularly and B) they thought enough of my work to ask my opinion. However, I had zero information in my arsenal on cooking from across the pond. My entire knowledge base of food from the United Kingdom consisted of that they call fries “chips” over there and those meat pies from the Richard Burton version of Sweeney Todd. I knew that the Scots had haggis and the Irish had a potato famine at some point, but I had no clue what might work well on a British Irish Scottish fusion restaurant. In fact, I didn’t even know you COULD have a British Irish Scottish fusion restaurant.
A lot of research later, I discovered that a great majority of the traditional Scottish, Irish and British cuisine seemed to revolve around starches and nose-to-tail use of butchered animals. (Blood pudding anyone? Neeps and Tatties?) I suggested a long laundry list of dishes ranging from a vegetarian haggis oat flour crepe to a colcannon/rumbledethumps pot pie, hoping something would stick. Like pasta and a wall, something did. Richard bit on the potato and kale based pot pie. I. Was. Thrilled.
In my original version, I had suggested that the pie be made without a bottom crust in a white sauce with a top crust consisting of a cheese laced pate brisee cooked when the order is fired and finished under the salamander. The dish would pay homage to the Irish colcannon with the potato and kale bound in a white sauce and the Scottish rumbledethumps with the rutabaga addition, a little cheese in the crust and baking the whole thing. It would keep well, could be reheated fast and everyone would enjoy it from ages 8 to 800 as nothing was particularly “out there
A few emails later, here’s how Richard decided to go with the dish. It sounds even better than my suggestions!
“We changed it a little to fit in with service from the kitchen. On the menu it’s a ” colcannon pot pie with a herb-crumb crust, topped with smoked applewood cheese served with olive oil roast potatoes (gotta love that starch), and a rocket, kale and walnut salad.”
It kind of makes me want to book a trip to Edinburgh just to give it a shot.
However, being a volunteer food blogger means that I’m not rolling in the cash, so I’ll be stuck stateside dreaming of this dinner, perhaps making the O.G. version. If you’re in the same boat, perhaps you’d like to try it out as well.. while saving for your trip to Scotland.
Individual Colcannon Pot Pies
For the crust:
-1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
-1/4 lb sharp cheddar, grated
-5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tiny bits and chilled
-1 teaspoon dry mustard
-1/4 teaspoon cayenne
For the filling:
-1/2 lb rutabaga, washed and diced medium
-1/2 lb yukon gold potatoes, washed and diced medium
-1 medium sized yellow onion, peeled and diced
-1 cup kale, washed and chopped fine
-6 tablespoons unsalted butter
-1/4 cup all purpose flour
-1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1-2 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped
1.Start by preparing your cheese laced pie crust. In a bowl, combine the flour, spices and a smallish pinch of salt. Then add in the cheese and butter.
2. Cut the fats into the flour while incorporating the ice water, one tablespoon at a time. Continue blending the dough until it looks like the consistency of small peas.
3. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate while preparing the rest of the dish.
4. In a heavy bottomed saucepot, prepare the roux for your sauce. Start by melting the butter over medium heat.
5. When the butter is melted but has no color, add in the flour gradually and whisk everything together. The roux should be smooth but not pasty.
6. Continue cooking the roux for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. It will bubble. At the end of two minutes, remove the pot from the heat.
7. Stir in the stock, cream, pepper, salt and thyme. Put the pot back on medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens.
8. When the sauce is thick, add in the rutabaga, potato, onion and kale. Stir everything to incorporate.
9. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
10. Fill 4-6 ovenproof ramekins with the pot pie filling to the top (but not mounded). Set the ramekins on a cookie sheet.
10. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut large circles of the dough that will cover the edge of the ramekins just slightly.
11. Neatly tuck under the crust so it forms a small lip around the ramekins. They should look something like this, as a point of reference. Coat the top with an egg white wash.
12. Cover the ramekins in foil to prevent the crust from burning before the center is done.
13. Bake for 15 minutes.
14. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 10-12 minutes more, until the crust browns nicely and is firm to the touch.
15. Serve immediately.
Note: These can be prepared ahead and frozen, or the pie crust and filling can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days and assembled before cooking.