The best potpies

The steamy, savory dish has left its frozen-dinner rep behind. Dig into these crusty gems---brimming with juicy chicken, fat oysters or hunks of venison---all winter long.

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  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    Smoked kielbasa and turkey potpie at the Vanderbilt

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    Vegetable potpie at 10 Downing Food and Wine

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

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    Tourtire at M. Wells Diner

  • Photograph: Andrew Fladeboe

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    Chicken potpie at Pies 'n' Thighs

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    Lobster potpie at Ed's Lobster Bar

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    East Coast oyster potpie at Flex Mussels

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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    Venison potpie at Employees Only

Photograph: Jolie Ruben

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Smoked kielbasa and turkey potpie at the Vanderbilt

Smoked kielbasa and turkey potpie at the Vanderbilt
Perfectly scalloped edges make this savory six-incher look like something you'd see cooling on a windowsill. But instead of fruit you'll find creamy bchamel coating chunks of spicy kielbasa and turkey leg confit beneath the pie's crusty cover. The key ingredients: funky Parmesan and duck fat in the dough, and onions, rosemary and root vegetables enriching the filling. 570 Vanderbilt Ave at Bergen St, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-623-0570). $16.

Vegetable potpie at 10 Downing Food and Wine
Black-pepper--laced dough is frozen and molded into a cube to achieve the unusual, architectural shape of this potpie—a vegetarian entre large enough to feed two. Break through the speckled crust to reveal an array of seasonal vegetables—ours featured bitter brussels sprouts and whole stalks of broccoli rabe, along with parsnips and onions—napped in velvety bchamel and brightened with a shower of grated lemon zest. 10 Downing St at Sixth Ave (212-255-0300). $19.

Tourtire at M. Wells Diner
Owners Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis offer this French Canadian take on the potpie all winter, stuffing their rustic tourtire (traditionally served in Quebec during the holidays) with a mix of meats that changes with each batch. In the version we tried, the crisp, golden exterior (enriched with sweet butter from Evans' Creamery upstate) concealed a dense filling of nutmeg- and cinnamon-spiced ground pork, plus delicate rabbit, juicy guinea hen and fatty bacon—a kind of meaty pastiche that yields a different succulent morsel with each bite. 21-17 49th Ave at 21st St, Long Island City, Queens (718-425-6917). Tourtires are sold by the slice ($7--$10), three-inch ($7) and eight-inch sizes ($35; frozen for heating at home) throughout the fall and winter. Call ahead for availability, or e-mail write@mwells.com to order larger pies five days in advance.

Chicken potpie at Pies 'n' Thighs
This Williamsburg fowl joint is known for its fried chicken, but roasted versions of the free-range birds also find their way into the restaurant's classic American potpie. The addition of vegetable shortening to the usual butter-laden crust (the one used for the sublime dessert pies) makes the pastry profoundly flaky; inside, find thyme-infused chicken gravy stewed with moist morsels of poultry, plus shelled peas, carrots and celery. 166 South 4th St at Driggs Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-529-6090). $7.

Lobster potpie at Ed's Lobster Bar
Picture an incredibly rich lobster stew, served bubbling hot in a cast-iron cauldron and sealed with a delicate puff-pastry crust, and you've got this decadent one-dish meal. Generous chunks of tender crustacean swim in a cream-, butter- and sherry-rich stock (given a luxe nudge with a hit of truffle salt), while toothsome carrots, mushrooms, green beans and potatoes add flavor, crunch and a dose of (negligible) nutrition to this artery-clogger. 222 Lafayette St between Broome and Spring Sts (212-343-3236). $22.

East Coast oyster potpie at Flex Mussels
Plump, succulent Watch Hill oysters are the star of this unctuous stew, which emerges briny, fragrant and piping hot from beneath a buttery crust. A liberal dose of cream forms the base of the broth, which also contains pieces of meaty oyster mushrooms and potatoes, plus bitter kale and tart crme frache to temper the richness. 154 W 13th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-229-0222). $22.

Venison potpie at Employees Only
Spices that reflect chef Julia Jaksic's Eastern European heritage—paprika, Vegeta (a blend of dehydrated vegetables and herbs)—contribute to the intense flavor of this long-simmered stew. Farm-raised Canadian deer meat is braised for four hours with garlic and onions; nubs of roasted carrots and potatoes, tossed into the mix before serving, add some vegetal sweetness. Crowning this rustic, satisfying dish: a bubble of delicate dough. Available Tuesday and Wednesday nights only (midnight--4am). 510 Hudson St between Christopher and W 10th Sts (212-242-3021). $13.

EXPERIENCE IT!


Pie for Dinner at Four & Twenty Blackbirds
If you've chomped your way through our list and feel like you're just getting warmed up, check out the Pie for Dinner suppers at Four & Twenty Blackbirds (439 Third Ave at 8th St, Gowanus, Brooklyn; 718-499 2917). A few times a month, the coffee and dessert shop opens its doors for a $45 three-course dinner. Nate Smith (the Spotted Pig) is behind the stove, making savory individual pies—one recent dinner featured his lamb and tomato pie with a suet crust—and owners Emily and Melissa Elsen offer their cultish fruit-filled versions for dessert. The 30-seat dinners are sold out through December, but seats are still available for the January feasts (the dates are TBA). Visit birdsblack.com for more info.

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