February 15, 2012

Soup to Nuts:
Mainers do love a pot pie high

They keep local bakers cranking out the classic comfort food of winter all year long.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Pete Leavitt of Leavitt & Sons Deli in Falmouth shreds chicken for some of the 15 to 30 pies he sells daily.

Photos by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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When Pete Leavitt puts this sign outside Leavitt & Sons Deli in Falmouth, customers know there’s a fresh batch in the house.

Additional Photos Below


WANT TO GIVE some comfort to a friend? Lots of mail-order companies, restaurants and Maine seafood businesses sell their own versions of gourmet pot pies. Here's just a sampling:

HANCOCK GOURMET'S PEMAQUID POINT LOBSTER POT PIE – Lobster in a sherry cream sauce, two 7-ounce pies for $48. hancockgourmetlobster.com

ACADEME BRASSERIE & TAVERN, the restaurant at the Kennebunk Inn, sells a lobster pot pie that includes peas, corn, potatoes and hand-rolled puff pastry for $18.50. The pie was featured on the Food Network show "Best Thing I Ever Ate." thekennebunkinn.com

CALENDAR ISLANDS MAINE LOBSTER sells a 10-ounce lobster pot pie with bits of corn and potatoes for $20.95. calendarislandsmainelobster.com

HARRY & DAVID has a "savory pot pie collection" that includes a 2-pound, 9-ounce lobster pot pie for $39.95 and a 2-pound, 11-ounce chicken pot pie for $29.95. For vegetarians, there's a new 2-pound, 9-ounce vegan vegetable pot pie for $29.95. harryanddavid.com

MAINE FRESH seafood pot pies are made with all-natural, sustainably harvested ingredients and come in four varieties: Scallop, lobster, shrimp and crab. Prices range from $5.99 to $7.99 for a 9.9-ounce pie. A quarter of all the profits go back into community projects. Available at Hannaford and Whole Foods Market. maine-fresh.com

MAURICE BONNEAU'S SAUSAGE KITCHEN sells tortiere, traditional Maine pork pies, in three sizes ranging from $6.95 to $15. sausagekitchen.com


THE TERM "POT PIE" first appeared in print in America in 1785, but the concept goes all the way back to the Middle Ages. Medieval pies contained flavorings such as nutmeg and mace. In the 17th and 18th centuries, some savory pies were called pot pies because the crust lined the pot they were being cooked in.

THE FIRST FROZEN pot pie was made with chicken n 1951 and sold by the C.A. Swanson Co.

TODAY, WE THINK of pot pies as a convenience food, but in Europe, they were once the way chefs showed off their talents – especially with elaborately-decorated crusts.

Pie pointers: Totman says the vegetables should still have some bite to them when they go into the crust, otherwise they will overcook.



182 Ocean Ave., Portland; 541-9600

Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

Baker: Kelley Sevigney, Borealis' chief operations officer

Main ingredient: Shredded house-roasted turkey breast

Size: 9-inch deep dish

Cost: $13.95

When it's available: Fresh pies daily, year round. They will soon be available frozen. Call the bistro 45 minutes before you pick up your pie, and they will bake it for you free.

Veggies: Carrots, green beans, peas and corn

What makes it good: This is a family recipe passed down from Sevigney's 82-year-old mother. The pot pie is all handmade, with an all-butter crust. There are about two cups of veggies and three cups of turkey in each pie. Sevigney begins by sauteeing a tiny bit of onion, just enough to bring out the flavor of the onion in the pie.

Pie pointers: "I try to put quite a bit of meat in it, but my real secret is you do it all by hand," Sevigney said.



347 Cottage Road, South Portland; 799-5005

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday to Friday

Baker: Audrey Castro

Main ingredient: Shredded chicken

Size: 8 inches

Cost: $9.49

When it's available: Fresh pies available Wednesdays year round. Frozen pies every day.

Veggies: Celery, onions, carrots and peas

What makes it good: Castro's pot pie is all homemade from scratch, and has a butter crust. It contains twice as much meat as veggies, and is filled with a half meat/veggie mixture and half gravy.

Pie pointers: "You don't want it to be too saucy," Castro said. "It's funny; our customers are very particular. If I'm having an off week with my roux, they certainly let me know. They don't like it too saucy, they don't like it too thick. It has to be just right. It has to, when you scoop it out, just sort of ooze a little, like a pudding, not bound like a lemon meringue."



37 Depot Road, Falmouth; 781-3753

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday; 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday

Baker: Pete Leavitt

Main ingredient: Shredded chicken

Size: This pot pie is sold in a rectangular container by the pound. A 1-pound pie comes in (approximately) a 3-by-5 container, and a 2-pound pie is about 6-by-8 inches. Top crust only.

Cost: $7.99 and $14.99

When it's available: Daily, year round.

Veggies: Garlic, onions, celery, carrots and peas

What makes it good: This is Leavitt's own recipe, and it has evolved over the past couple of years. The pie is spiced with tumeric, cumin and coriander.

Pie pointers: "I'd much prefer to have a baguette to dip the gravy in than to have the bottom crust," Leavitt said. "I like the top crust. It gets nice and crunchy and gives that nice appearance to it. (The bottom crust) never really added much to the dish, and my philosophy is, if it doesn't add anything to it, then why do it?"


580 Brighton Ave. Portland; 774-8129

Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Baker: Erin Lynch, kitchen manager

Main ingredient: Chicken; on rare occasions, beef

Size: 9-inch, top crust only

Cost: $14.99

When it's available: Fresh pies available Wednesday afternoon, almost year round -- Lynch likes to take a break from them in July and August, when she switches to more summery foods such as chicken salads. They are sold at all Rosemont stores. Rosemont also carries Mainely Poultry frozen pot pies.

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Additional Photos

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A detail from a Leavitt pie crust.

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Pete Leavitt of Leavitt & Sons Deli in Falmouth stirs a pot of filling, which, in addition to chicken, contains garlic, onions, celery, carrots and peas.


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