Deli, Food Artisans

Pot Pies! Pot Pies! Pot Pies! Pot Pies!

This is an old article, please see Zingerman’s Deli Pot Pie Menu for current offers.

Making full-flavored traditional foods is our thing here at Zingerman’s, which is why we get so excited when pot pie season officially beginsand, yes, it has officially begun! For two full months, we’ll be selling a delectable selection of flaky, delicious, savory pot pies all made from scratch right in our kitchen. The best part is that you can get them hot and ready to eat at the Deli or frozen, so you can stock up for the winter.

Many of our customers look forward to the season, and we sell thousands to them every year. That’s a lot of pies, but it isn’t too surprisingpeople have been devouring the savory pastry for centuries. Chef Andrew Wilhelme from Zingerman’s Deli recently wrote about their history:

Their origins stem from antiquity and were a popular item on Roman banquet tables (some were known to be filled with live birds!). Elizabethan gentry of 16th century England spurred a renaissance of the ancient custom of meat pies, which were elaborately decorated and very popular among royalty on both sides of the English channel. These pies featured not only poultry but pork, lamb, and wild game, as well. Savory pies were popular among commoners, too, providing an economical and filling dish for the laboring masses. Meat pies are featured prominently in many cultures’ collection of traditional foods. Cornish pasties, which were transplanted to the iron and copper mining towns of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Galician empanadas, and Ligurian torta pasqualinas (easter pies) are all examples traditional savory pastries.

Our pot pies go back pretty far, too. Our Classic Chicken has been a menu staple as long as we can remember, and we’ve been making our other varieties for over a decade. Interestingly, the Deli started going big with pot pies as a way to keep our staff gainfully employed during the winter months, when business in the restaurant industry is notoriously slow.

“I needed to get meaningful work for my full-time employees in the kitchen,” says Rodger Bowser, a managing partner of the Deli who was the kitchen manager at the time.

That’s when Rodger got the idea to coax customers out of their warm homes with pot pies. He began developing a full menu and came up with six different pies, naming some to highlight the farms and growers the Deli was working with. There was the John H. Turkey, for example, named after John Harnois, who raises turkeys in Webster Township. Rodger and his team experimented with a few different vegetarian options, tooincluding a vegan variety with olive oil dough and squash that didn’t quite work outfinally settling on the popular Fungi Pot Pie, which includes Michigan maitakes that are picked wild for the Deli every year in the fall.

Production was challenging at first, and the kitchen staff was a bit overwhelmed with the labor-intensive endeavor. “We were hand-rolling all the dough—like literally, mix the dough, ball the dough, roll it with the rolling pin,” Rodger explains. “We were making hundreds of pies, so consequently, I ended up making a lot of pies myself.” When the pies proved popular and the process became more streamlined, the staff became more enthusiastic about the new product. Over the years, the pies have become a point of pride for the whole company.

Pot Pie Fest 2017 is better than ever. We’re introducing some bright and shiny packaging (look for the blue box in the freezer case) designed by one of our illustrators, Ian Nagy. Our usual discount—buy 10 or more, get 10% off; buy 20 or more, get 20% off; buy 30 or more, get 30% offstill applies, so stock up for the winter!

Here’s the complete Pot Pie Menu:

Classic Chicken
Our most popular pie features diced chunks of Amish chicken, celery, carrots, onions, button potpie-chicken2mushrooms, red and green bell peppers, red skin potatoes and thyme swimming in a rich sauce of house-made chicken broth and Calder Dairy heavy cream.

John H. Turkey
This one is fairly similar to its feathered cousin, except that we use Broad Breasted White potpie-turkey2turkeys raised in Webster Township by John Harnois. We also add a bit of Turkish urfa pepper, a dark purplish pepper that is sun dried by day and wrapped and “sweated” by night for over a week to bring out a rich, earthy flavor and smoky aroma.

Fungi Pot Pie
Chock-full of four varieties of mushroom (Michigan maitakes, shiitakes, oysters, buttons), this potpie-veggiepie is teaming in earthy flavor. We add Balinese long pepper, once acclaimed by the Romans as the ultimate peppery spice, it adds a nuanced floral sweetness to this delectable dish.

Red Brick Beef
Imagine a hearty beef stew wrapped in a buttery crust and that’s exactly what you’ll find in this bullish pie. Our beef is grass fed and comes from Michigan State University’s Lake City  potpie-beef1Research Farm, a farm dedicated to improving the beef industry’s environmental impact. The beef is diced into big cubes and then stewed in dry red wine with carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bay leaves and fresh thyme.

Darina’s Dingle
This pie is served pastie style (without a tin) and features lamb from Hannewald Lamb, near Stockbridge, as well as loads of potatoes, carrots, celery, onions and rutabaga. A hint of toasted potpie-lamb cumin and rosemary give it extra mouth-watering appeal. The idea for this pie was originally inspired by Darina Allen, friend and teacher to both Ari and Rodger, and owner of the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, Ireland.

Cheshire Pork
This one is Rodger’s favorite, and he says it’s “underrated”. The recipe derives from a thorough combing of traditional British cookbooks one afternoon at the library many years ago. It’s probably our most unique pie, potpie-pork1combining sweet, sour and savory flavors. Chunks of local pork, raised by Alvin and Joan Ernst, are braised in fresh apple cider from Nemeth Orchards and Gingras apple cider vinegar from Quebec, along with onions, rosemary, freshly grated nutmeg, lemon zest and large bites of apples, also from Nemeth Orchards, for a truly amazing and distinctive treat. As with the Darina’s Dingle pie, this one is also served pastie style, without a tin.

Pot Pie Fest 2017 is in full swing and will last ’til the end of February. Get ’em hot and eat in at the Deli and/or get them frozen to take home. They’ll get you through the winter!