After making the Eggplant Pie, we had enough crust left over for another pie. We thought about putting the crust in the freezer for later, but we waited a day to see if we could come up with an immediate use. We thought about a fruit pie, or perhaps a custard pie, but, as you can see from the title we settled on Potato Pie. So, what, exactly, is Potato Pie? We had no clue, except that it contained potatoes. In fact, we made up the idea of Potato Pie on the notion that it sounded like it might be good. Then all we had to do was come up with something resembling a recipe!
The recipe was actually straightforward. We knew we wanted a lot of potatoes in our pie, and it needed to be savory. Fortunately, we had an example: the Leek and Cheese Pie recipe, from which made the crust. We figured that we could just tweak that recipe, and pow, bang, before we knew what was happening, we’d have our dinner.
But, we did have a complication. There’s always something, right? On Mondays, when we made this pie, we head downtown for our weekly walking and running event that takes place between 5 and 7pm. How can we do both? Is it possible? Following the advice of nothing ventured means no pie, we went for it. We made the filling in advance, then assembled and baked the pie when we got home, eating fashionably late.
Please note: the crust recipe makes enough for two 9-inch pies; either have another use for one of them, or you can freeze the extra crust for about a month.
For potatoes, we really recommend using organic, as potatoes are one of the most pesticide-, fungicide-, and other-icide laden produce on the shelves. For the butter, unsalted is the way to go for all baking; no sense in having the dairy and you add salt to your dishes.
Procedure in detail:
Make crusts. We won’t go into much detail here, as you can see just how to make them in the Leek and Cheese Pie post. But, briefly stated, whisk together the flour and salt, quickly work in the butter until it looks like coarse cornmeal, add the egg yolk (keep the egg white), followed by cold water a tablespoon at a time, and mix quickly with your fingers until a dough forms. Divide into two pieces and shape into disks. Wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
Boil potatoes. Peel and slice the potatoes into disks about 1/8-inch thick. While you could use cubes or some other shape, we think the layered look is perfect. As you slice, drop the slices into a saucepan of salted water. Place the pan of potatoes over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the water and reserve — you might need it later to thin the sauce — and drain the potatoes.
Fry onions. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook slowly, stirring often, until they’re tender, about 10 minutes. Try not to let them brown.
Add flour and milk. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to combine. It’ll form a very thick paste. Slowly add the milk, stirring all the while, and bring the mixture to a boil so it thickens. Continue to cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes to ensure that the sauce is through thickening.
Add cheese. Remove the skillet from the heat and let it stand for a few minutes; oh, about 5 minutes will be perfect. This slight cooling helps to prevent the cheese sauce from breaking or separating. After letting it stand, stir in the grated cheese, and return to a low heat. Continue stirring until the cheese is melted.
Season. Stir in the nutmeg, then taste and add salt and pepper as needed, stirring and tasting as you go.
Add potatoes. Finally, stir in the potatoes, making sure that they’re all coated with cheese sauce. If needed, stir in a few tablespoons of the reserved potato water. Note: we didn’t need additional liquid for our sauce, but your potatoes may be different. (We had to place our potatoes in the refrigerator while we went on our foray).
Roll out crust. Place one of the disks of dough on a lightly floured work surface, and, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about a 10-inch circle. If the dough is very stiff from being in the refrigerator, let it warm a few minutes. If it starts to get sticky, try transferring it to a piece of parchment and refrigerating for a few minutes. Once you have a large enough circle of dough, use it to line a 9-inch pie pan, patching any holes and breaks in the crust as needed. Finish up by piercing the bottom of the crust with a fork. This docking will help to keep the crust from puffing as it bakes.
Freeze. Slide the crust into the freezer and let it freeze for at least 20 minutes. Freezing does two things: it’ll help keep the dough from shrinking and help to keep it from puffing up. Our crust was in the freezer for much of the day — no harm done.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a rack in the middle of the oven.
Fill pie. Brush the pie crust with the reserved egg white and spoon in the potato mixture, spreading it into an even layer and making sure cheese sauce covers the potatoes.
Bake. Place on the middle rack and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. If your pie looks very full, you can place the pie pan on a baking sheet to catch drips (recommended, as ours almost went over the sides). Check the pie after 45 minutes, and, if browned on the top and bubbling throughout, consider it done.
Stand. Let the pie stand for 5 to 10 minutes so the filling can set up, then slice and serve.
Okay, in our defense it was late and we were hungry. Plus, this pie turned out so tasty that we could help it. Then, on top of all that, we didn’t have a side dish, so can you blame us? Yes, we ate the whole pie for dinner. We would say that we’re ashamed of ourselves, but that’s just not true. Our only regret was the next day when we realized that we didn’t have any pie left for lunch. I think we can all agree that this is worth five stars.