Today, we stop by the Pie Corps pie shop in Greenpoint. Cheryl Perry and Felipa Lopez share a love for that magical place at the nexus of savory and sweet. When they realized that there was no better way to explore that place than in the medium of the pie, they began making pies in all shapes and sizes, and selling them at weekend markets city-wide. The people loved the pie, and now, two years in, they’ve opened their first shop. We asked Cheryl to point us to a pie that would warm our hearts on a blustery fall day.
OK Cheryl, what should we have today?
I think you should try our chicken pot pie. I think about this pie every day. I think this pot pie rivals anybody’s favorite chicken pot pie recipe anywhere. It’s kind of supremely satisfying.
To make this pie, we start with a base of lots and lots of sautéed onions. We deglaze the onions with some wine, and then we add chicken stock, peas and carrots, fennel seed, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and parsley.
Once we’ve got our base, we work in our buttermilk gravy. Our secret ingredient in this pie is the buttermilk gravy. It has a little bit of this low sour note from the buttermilk. It’s garlicky, creamy, and a little spicy. It’s deeply savory, with a little tang from the buttermilk and a little heat from some more crushed red pepper. The gravy gives it a real depth of flavor that you don’t find in many chicken pot pies.
Then there’s the chicken. We use beautiful pasture-raised chicken, and in the pot pie, we just use the dark thigh meat. We toss the meat in lots of olive oil, with some salt and pepper, and we roast it slowly. Once it’s done, we pull the meat off the bone. It gets so tender that the meat really just falls right off. And we use a lot of that thigh meat in our pot pie. When you dig into that pie, it’s almost all meat inside.
And last is the crust. There’s both a bottom crust and a top crust. We make our pastry with organic flour grown and milled upstate. It’s really nice flour, and it gives you a really delicious, buttery, flaky, tender pastry.
Doing it in those four parts allows us to get each layer, each component of the pie, perfectly seasoned and just right. When we put them all together, I think we have a chicken pot pie that’s probably just as good as any other pot pie you’ll find out there. Just talking about it is making me want to eat one. [laughter.]
How did you end up in the sweet and savory pie business?
I’ve been cooking professionally for over twenty years. I had a restaurant in the city for ten years. I had a catering company for eight years before that. There’s been so much amazing stuff happening with food in the city recently – I knew I was ready to start something new, but I wasn’t sure what.
My partner Felipa and I tried a few different things. We tried making sausages. The sausages were wonderful, but we couldn’t really see ourselves just making sausage all the time. Too meaty. We thought about doing artisanal lollipops, but then thought, “Too sweet.” We went from this extreme savory, meaty idea to this extremely sweet concept on the other end of the spectrum. And then we thought of pies. As soon as we thought of it, we knew pies would be perfect. The food we love is both savory and sweet, not just one or the other. We realized that pies would allow us to play in that perfect middle ground between the two, using elements of both. Pie encompasses everything we love.
With pie, we can make a delicious stew to use as a filling, or we can go sweeter. Even our sweet pies generally have a savory touch. We do a chocolate pudding pie with a bittersweet chocolate ganache, and we top it with a salty rosemary caramel. We just really like that kind of combination. Pie seemed like the perfect way to bring savory and sweet together. You can do anything with pie. We make pies you can sit down and eat for dinner. I mean, how great is it to sit down and eat a pie for dinner? Everyone loves pie.
We started out selling our pies at a lot of local markets on weekends. We developed a wholesale business, and we just opened the shop here a few weeks ago. With the markets and the wholesale side of things, we never get to see the people who like our pies actually eat them. Here, we get to see people sit down and enjoy the food we make. It sounds kind of silly, but for someone who spends countless hours making food for people, I can’t tell you how gratifying that is. [laughter.]
Pie Corps is located at 77 Driggs Avenue, between Kingsland and Monitor, just off McGolrick Park in Greenpoint.
Photography by Morgan Ione Yeager. All rights reserved.