The best way to see Quebec's breathtaking Gaspé peninsula is to drive along the highway that runs along the coast. Every bend gives you another stunning vista of the ocean or of rolling green hills. You meander through little bays in which villages nestle with fishing boats pulled up on the shore and wooden racks laid out on which salt cod is spread to dry in the sun. Quaint covered bridges straddle sparkling streams and on the horizon there is always a lighthouse to mark the way.
The Gaspé region is famous for its seafood, both fresh and smoked. I have never seen such variety of smoked seafood anywhere else and local restaurants serve it in many creative ways. We came upon Atkins, the famous regional business that specializes in frozen and smoked seafood, in the tiny village of Mont St-Louis. There were smoked seafood varieties of every kind in the coolers and I stocked up on enough to last me for a very long time! Every time I use their smoked scallops, shrimp or smoked fish in one of my recipes, I am reminded of our fabulous Gaspé trip. What better way to relive our memorable food experiences?!
While seafood is understandably one of the highlights of eating out in the Gaspé region, you also find some amazing lamb dishes. After all it is not far from the Charlevoix region, famous for its locally grown lamb. After days of eating seafood, lamb can come as a welcome change! We had the most tender, flavourful lamb shanks in Auberge Maison William Wakefield in historic Gaspé Town, where they were intriguingly served with delicious little lamb samosas! In the town of Carleton Sur Mer, our culinary highlight was at restaurant Le Marin d'Eau Douce where the French trained Moroccan chef served us an unforgettable lamb tagine.
I love to prepare lamb in hearty, warming stews and curries. Here, I have taken it a step further by turning my lamb stew into a simple, delicious pot pie that is perfect for a weekday dinner because the lamb stew can be made ahead of time. All you have to do is throw on the crust and bake it. If you have any leftover lamb curry in your refrigerator, use that to make a fantastic curried pot pie! If you wish to make this vegetarian, try a paneer pot pie. It's different and delicious! You can make individual sized small pot pies or a larger one in a pie plate. Pies can also be made ahead of time and kept frozen until baked.
The Parmesan cheese in this recipe helps thicken the stew as well as add flavour to it,
while the whole spices add their own subtle aroma. A fresh salad is the
Lamb Pot Pie
1 lb (450g) boneless leg of lamb, fat trimmed off, cubed into bite sized pieces
2 tbsp each: all purpose flour, oil
4 each, whole: cardamom, cloves
1/2 inch stick cinnamon
1 star anise, optional
1 large cooking onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup each: chicken or beef broth, crushed or diced tomatoes
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp each: ground black pepper, smoked paprika
2 sticks celery, sliced
1 carrot, diced
4 small potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 pkg (450g) puff pastry sheets
1 egg, beaten
Wash and pat dry lamb pieces with paper towels. Dredge lightly in flour, shaking off excess. Reserve.
Warm oil in deep non stick skillet set over medium high heat. Add whole cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and star anise. Sizzle spices for 30 sec., then add onions, garlic and thyme.
Saute for about 5 min. until onions are lightly browned. Add lamb and brown for 5 min. Add wine and mix well. Add broth, tomatoes, salt, pepper and paprika. Mix well, cover skillet and bring contents to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 1 hour.
Add celery, carrots, potatoes, peas and parsley to skillet. Bring back to boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook for another hour or longer until lamb and vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally.
Fold in the Parmesan cheese and cool lamb stew mixture to room temperature.
Heat oven to 400F. Spoon lamb stew mixture into four small individual oven safe bowls. Cut puff pastry to size, letting it overlap edges slightly. Cut a vent on top of each pastry to let steam escape. Brush tops with beaten egg.
Place bowls on baking tray, bake for about 18 - 20 min or until tops are golden and pastry is crisp.