Pancetta, White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies

Posted on: Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I had a zen moment over the weekend walking along the Charles River, taking in the quiet, partially frozen water staggered with a few boats along the shore. I made my way down the open pathways from Central Square to Harvard Square. After popping into Crema Cafe for a Ginger Steamer which infuses fresh ginger broth with lemon and honey, I headed back to my apartment with inspiration from Kara’s Cozy Tamale Pie to whip up the ultimate core-warming meal.

A pot pie came to mind for its thick, creamy filling underneath a warm, flaky crust. I sought one of my favorite resources, Manhattan-based Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Kara and I love Deb’s eclectic spin on classic dishes with a step-by-step breakdown of each unique recipe and vivid imagery. While it is always fun, but sometimes difficult to follow a recipe verbatim, I was up for the challenge and knew I would have no trouble with this foolproof recipe source. The slow-cooked winter greens, beans and Pancetta have a subtle smoky flavor with a salty punch melding together underneath the golden pastry crust above. This recipe is a must! 

Pancetta, White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies (from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)

4 oven-safe 2-cup ramekins

2 c flour
1/2 t salt
13 T cold unsalted butter
6 T sour cream
1 T white wine vinegar (I was out of white wine vinegar, so used Red Wine Vinegar)
1/4 c ice cold water
1 egg beaten with 1 T water (for wash)

1 cup 1/4-inch diced Pancetta
1 large onion diced
1 large carrot diced
1 large stalk of celery diced
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 minced garlic cloves
4 cups thinly sliced Swiss chard

3 1/2 T unsalted butter
3 1/2 T flour
3 1/4 c chicken broth
2 c white beans
salt and pepper throughout

For the crust, while Deb Perelman kneads by hand, I decided to speed up the process and used a food processor. In the processor, add the flour and salt and pulse. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles little pebbles. Keep breaking up the bits of butter until the texture resembles uncooked couscous. Add the sour cream, vinegar, and water and blend until a craggy dough forms. Remove the dough and pat it into a ball. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the filling, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium- high heat in a large, wide saucepan, and then add the Pancetta. Brown the Pancetta, turning it frequently, so that it colors and crisps on all sides; about 10 minutes. Remove it with a slotted spoon, and drain it on paper towels before transferring to a medium bowl. Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil to the pan if needed and heat it until simmering. Add onions, carrot, celery, red pepper flakes, and a few pinches of salt, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are softened, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Swiss chard and cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper to taste. Transfer all of the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the Pancetta, and set aside.

For the rue, wipe out the large saucepan, leaving any stuck bits that remain. Melt the butter in the saucepan over medium- low heat. Add the flour, and stir with a whisk until combined. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring the whole time, until the mixture begins to take on a little color. Whisk in the broth, one ladle at a time, mixing completely between additions. Once you’ve added 1/3 of the broth, you can begin to add the rest more quickly, two to three ladles at a time, scraping up any bits that were stuck to the bottom.

Once all of the broth is added, stirring the whole time, bring the mixture to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. Cook the sauce until it is thickened and gravy-like, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the white beans and reserved vegetables into the sauce.

Divide the filling among four oven safe ramekins (about 1 1/2 cups filling in each). Set the ramekins on a baking pan. Cut the ball of chilled pie dough into four equal pieces, and roll each out into rounds that are about 1-inch wider in diameter than the ramekins. Whisk the egg wash and brush it lightly around the top rim of your ramekins and drape the pastry over each, pressing gently to adhere it with crust overhanging. Brush the lids with egg wash, then cut three thin slits in each to help steam escape. Bake until crust is lightly bronzed and filling is bubbling, about 30-35 minutes. Serves 4.

Not only is this recipe a stellar meal, the adorable individual servings add a memorable presentation to any cozy gathering.


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