Comforting. Yummy. Satisfying. Those words are from the back cover of Potpies: Yumminess in a Dish and they perfectly describe this type of savory mini-pie. After trying several commercial varieties, I thought to myself, wouldn’t a salmon potpie be delicious—and oh-so-Northwest? I wasn’t able to find one (either store-bought or from the many excellent pie shops in Seattle) so I decided to make some myself, with help from the library’s cookbooks.
I started with a recipe for “Salmon Leek Pie with Lemon Dill Crust” in Pot Pies: Comfort Food Under Cover. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted…I was looking more for a traditional chicken potpie but with salmon instead of chicken, and lots of veggies. Luckily, I was able to cobble together an excellent recipe by taking components from several other cookbooks, using one for the crust, another for the filling, another for the sauce, and so on.
For the crust I turned to Baking Illustrated, an excellent resource for all things dough-related that I had great success with for my adventures in making bagels. From this book I learned about the importance of chilling: not only the dough itself but also the butter and shortening, as well as using ice-water to form the dough and the technique of pressing it with a spatula. Baking Illustrated also helped me with the correct proportion of butter and shortening for this notoriously tricky concoction. The result was a perfect crust, on my first attempt and every time since—no small feat for this culinarily-challenged novice!
Next, for the filling of vegetables and salmon, I used several recipes from Good Old-Fashioned Pies and Stews, including ones for “Fish Pie” and “Root Vegetable Pie.” I was also inspired by the cover image of the “Chestnut and Shallot Pie” to craft some beautiful decorations on top of my pies, and this recipe gave me the right amounts of rosemary and thyme to use—fresh from my garden! I adapted a gravy recipe from the “Farmer’s Market Chicken Potpie” in Potpies: Yumminess in a Dish, substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth and using not quite as much flour. This book’s “Springtime Vegetable Potpie” gave me some great ideas for which veggies to use in my filling. I added these to a base of onions, shallots, garlic and leeks inspired by their “Onion, Spring Onion & Potato Potpie” as well as the “Deep-Dish Curried Vegetable Potpies” in Savory Baking: Warm and Inspiring Recipes for Crisp, Crumbly, Flaky Pastries.
And from all of these books I figured out the best baking time (35 minutes at 375°)—enough to cook the dough and filling without overcooking the fish. My own innovation was to use smoked salmon, sandwiching pieces within layers of the veggie filling as I constructed the pies so the fish wouldn’t fall apart. The results were spectacular! Scrumptious homemade salmon potpies…all thanks to The Seattle Public Library’s wonderful culinary resources.