- Author: Gwen Ashley Walters
- Category: Three Bites
- Issue: Jan 2014
Valley chefs elevate a humble comfort classic. Hint: Lobster helps.
If the last pot pie you ate came in a flimsy tin from the freezer, it’s time to get reacquainted with this timeless staple. Every cuisine has some variant of a steaming, savory stew wrapped in warm pastry dough. Most are modest dishes, but every once in a while a chef will fuss with the humble pie, elevating it from pauper to princely fare. Michael Mina’s signature lobster pot pie is one such regal feast – market priced at $75 on our visit. Why so pricey? Because of the pristine two-pound lobster and elaborate presentation. The hefty crustacean is shelled and nestled into a copper pot with pearl onions, potatoes, wild mushrooms and carrots. Smothered in a creamy, brandy-infused lobster sauce, the pot’s prized contents are sealed with buttery pie dough. After baking, the pot is rushed tableside. A server ceremoniously cuts the golden crust off and places it on a plate before mounding the sea-scented bounty on top, finishing with a ladle of luscious lobster cream. 7575 E. Princess Dr., Scottsdale, 480-513-6002, scottsdaleprincess.com/dining/bourbon-steak
The only thing humble about Eugenia Theodosopoulos’ exquisite chicken pot pie is her explanation of why it’s one of her favorite pastries: “Two important elements I learned from my dad about making pie dough when I started baking pies at age 13 in his restaurant: good ol’ European butter at 83 percent butterfat and not over-mixing the dough.” Wrapped inside that golden crust is Two Wash Ranch poached chicken, celery, onions, peas, potatoes, white wine and fresh herbs, cooked with “lots of love and attention.” 825 W. University Dr., Tempe, 480-966-2745 and 3830 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-296-4958, essencebakery.com
Morocco’s contribution to the savory pie realm comes with a dash of sweet. B’stilla is a harmonious marriage of crisp shards of phyllo dough encasing exotically spiced chicken, ground almonds and orange blossom water. Baked until golden brown, it is generously – and artfully – dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Crowned with a red rose (al-zohour means “flower” in Arabic), it’s as lovely to look at as it is delicious to eat. One bite – crisp, sweet, savory, spicy – and it’s easy to see why this delicacy was once reserved for royals. 7814 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix, 602-433-5191