Thursday, December 17, 2020

Seafood Pie for #Christmas Eve #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: I hope all of you are managing to find joy in the approaching holiday season, no matter how hard the year has been. I am happiest when I am making and sharing delicious food. For Christmas in my family, the food focus was on Christmas Day rather than Christmas Eve. We of course had sugar cookies and carrots to leave out for Rudolph and Santa, but the main food event was the traditional turkey dinner on Christmas. John’s family, on the other hand. often served shrimp cocktail, oyster stew, and fried kielbasa. So these days, I always include at least one of those on our menu.

Pompano Feast of Seven Fishes

That lack of a strong Christmas Eve food tradition means I have often envied my Italian friends who serve the feast of seven fishes. My good friends Annette and Angelo wouldn’t dream of skipping any of these seven courses, even though it’s also Annette’s birthday and she’s doing the cooking. In fact one year they dragged the bacala (smelly dried salt cod) from Connecticut to California, in case it wasn’t available in their daughter’s town.

My cooking these days without guests certainly wouldn’t trend toward seven courses, but I have thought about making a festive seafood pie with a puff pastry crust. And this is what I came up with, using a combination of ideas from Melissa Clark and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander cookbook. I happened to have cod and lobster in the freezer so that’s what I used. But shrimp would be lovely and crabmeat too. 

The day before: Defrost the seafood in the fridge if frozen. Also thaw the pastry as directed on the box.


6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large leek, white and light green parts only, halved and thinly sliced

1 white onion, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/4 cup dry white wine 

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup chicken stock

½ cup clam juice

1 pound cod or other mild fish, cut into 1 1/4-inch thick cubes 

1/2 pound large shelled shrimp or lobster or both

1 cup frozen peas

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons drained capers

1 large egg

1 pound puff pastry, thawed (I prefer all butter DuFour’s)

Oven at 425

Set the seafood on a plate lined with paper towels and pat dry.

Saute the leeks and onion in half the melted butter until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and saute another minute. 

Add the wine and simmer until most of the liquid disappears. Scrape that mixture into a bowl. In the same pan, melt the rest of the butter. Add the flour and cook that on low heat for several minutes. Slowly add the stock and clam juice and continue to mix until the sauce begins to thicken. Add this sauce to the leek mixture. Stir in the dill and capers, followed by the seafood.

Transfer the seafood mixture to a buttered casserole. Refrigerate uncovered for at least an hour, up to 24. 

Roll out the puff pastry and trim to the shape of the casserole. (Don’t press the edges down.) You can make little decorations with the bits you trim. (Can you see my fishes?) Brush with beaten egg.

Bake 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Let the pie cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to every one of you! Just for fun, here's the Key West Christmas decoration that sparked the idea for the murder in THE KEY LIME CRIME...

Please don't forget that mysteries make great stocking stuffers! Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries. You can find them wherever books are sold...


  1. Thanks, Roberta, that seafood pie looks delish, and relatively easy to make for Christmas Eve. I envy your access to good seafood in KW. Living in landlocked Ottawa (ON), it is even hard to buy frozen seafood of a good quality and at a decent price.

    1. The shrimp here are especially good--I think we'll have a lot of those in the pie!

  2. How elegant and delicious!
    Very best wishes for the holidays.
    May we all be covered in lots of joyful lights.

  3. Lucy, that seafood pie looks so good that I would enjoy it at any time of the year. That’s a true story about carrying the baccala on the plane. Our daughter’s family loves the Christmas Eve meal so much that I think Annette would have dressed that dried fish as a baby to get it to California. We were lucky that the TSA inspector understood how important it was. This year’s Christmas Eve/birthday celebration will be much smaller and held a day early, but the spirit will be there. Annette and I are wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday.

    1. She would have dressed it like a baby...I smell the opening of a short story right there! thanks for sharing that and the photo of your table

  4. Hi Lucy! I love seafood and I keep trying to get my two girls to try more seafood dishes. Your seafood pie looks delicious!

    1. thanks Tina! I'm still not the biggest fish eater, but I do love shrimp

  5. I love seafood! This looks simple yet impressive, which is exactly what I want for the holidays. A big ham is always the centerpiece for my holiday menu, but I always try to include a seafood option as well. I think this might be on next week's menu!

  6. Wow, this looks amazing, Lucy! Must try it soon!