Beef Pot Pie with Blue Cheese Pastry in Lodge Mini Skillets

When I thought of making this for Valentine's day, I wanted to make something comforting but having a twist to make it special. Oh, and it had to be almost effortless. I have been using my Cuisinart Pressure Cooker a lot, trying to get as much functionality out of it as I can. I always use sea salt in my recipes because it provides the most flavor for the measurement. If you do not have sea salt, you can use kosher easily - just make sure you taste as you go and adjust to accomodate your pallate.

1-3lb. chuck roast
2 medium yukon gold potatoes, cubed
3 carrots, roughly sliced
8 oz. fresh mushrooms
1 bag frozen pearl onions, thawed
4 garlic cloves
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 cups beef broth
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp. beef demi glace
1 tsp fresh parsley
1 tsp. fresh thyme
2 tbsp. cornstarch

I started out by placing a 3 lb chuck roast in the pressure cooker with 1 cup of beef broth, salt, pepper and demi glace. I place the top on the pressure cooker, making sure the release valve is set to pressure. I then adjust my setting to use high pressure and place 60 minutes on the timer, then start. I get to walk away at that point.

When the beef is done, release the steam by moving the pressure release valve over. Once you can hear that the pressure is completely release, you can remove the cover. Remove the beef, leaving the liquid in the pot. Place the potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, peas, mushrooms, parsley and thyme into the pot with the liquid, place the top on and set it back to high pressure, the timer set on 6 minutes - then start the machine. After the timer has gone off, release the pressure.

Meanwhile, with the vegetables cooking cut up your beef and place into a bowl. Once the vegetables are done cooking, add to the bowl with the beef and taste. This is the time to adjust your seasonings so your filling has well-rounded flavor. I then make a slurry with 2 tbsp cornstarch and 1/4 cup water, adding it to the hot vegetable mixture and stirring - allowing it to thicken. You may have to turn the setting to brown at this point to get the mixture to come to a boil in order to activate the cornstarch.

Now we will work on the blue cheese pastry:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sea salt
16 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, sliced into 1 tbsp pieces
8 oz. blue cheese, crumbled and separated in half
1/2 cup cold water
1 egg
1/2 cup half and half

In the large workbowl of a food processor place the flour and sea salt. Put the cover on and turn the machine on. Remove the chute and drop the butter in and then change to pulse until you see that the butter chunks are pea sized. Remove the cover and add the 4 oz blue cheese, place cover back on and pulse again briefly to combine. Remove the chute and with the machine on, slowly pour the water in. Once all the water has been added, change to pulse and pulse mixture until it resembles loose cornmeal. Open the top and using your thumb and forefingers grab a small amount of the mixture and squeeze to make sure it holds together.

At this point I dump the contents of the bowl onto a large silpat or rollpat. I form the mixture together and then using the palm of my hand I press it down to flatten it. This will help in the rolling process. I place a second silpat on top of and using a french rolling pin to roll out the dough to 1/4" thickness.

I remove the top silpat and cut the crust into 7" squares, then cut vents in the middle of each square so each pie can release steam as it cooks. I divide the filling between each of the mini Lodge skillets. In a small bowl, using a fork I mix together the egg and half & half. Using my favorite silicone basting brush, I brush the edge of of the pans so the crust can form a seal. I position a square of pastry on top of each filled skillet, centering it and allowing the corners to drape over the edge. I brush the top of each pastry with the egg/1/2 & 1/2 mixture, sprinkling with the remaining blue cheese.

I place them in a 400 degree, preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for ten minutes. I placed them on a large charger plate and served - enjoy!

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