Monday, June 28, 2010

A piece of the pie.....

Pot pie, hmmm there is something very nostalgic about this dish, it almost always makes me feel good, it warms the soul.  Pot pies have a very long history in the culinary world.  Ever heard the nursery rhyme "four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie."  During the reign of Queen Elizabeth in England these humble pies where actually the stars of the banquets with ornate designs and were a testament to the chef's abilities and skill.  Among the lower class the crust served as a way to stretch the meal. 
In the New World, the pie tradition followed and immigrants brought their techniques with them.  Because there was not many ways to preserve their food, the pie crust was one way that they could get some miles out of the meal.  As settlers moved westward in the New World so did the components of pot pie, and it became American as apple pie.
When I think of chicken pot pie I almost always get that feeling of fall approaching, the sun is going down early, there is a distinct smell of leaves in the air, and the mornings are brisk with the anticipation that Mother Nature is ushering winter in.   This is the time that I almost always want to cook up feasts of comfort food.  Dishes that warm the heart and soul, and prepare us for the deep slumber of winter. Comfortable meals dressed up in pajamas, furry slippers and soft robes huddled next to the fire watching reruns of Happy Days. There is nothing more satisfying that a humble slice of chicken, vegetables and crust in a luxurious sauce.  Here is a simple version of the classic dish.
1 large rotisserie chicken(supermarket has great ones)
1 onion diced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 jar or can or button mushrooms,drained
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbs and 1 tsp of butter
1 tbs and 1 tsp flour
1 tbs heavy cream
1 package ready-made pie crust
salt and pepper to taste
Remove all meat from chicken, freeze and save bones(can make chicken stock at a later date) set aside. In saute pan melt butter add onions and celery cook until slightly soft, add flour and incorporate,cook on low heat for about a minute or two. Add chicken stock and stir until the sauce thickens, add heavy cream and mix, season to taste.  Add picked chicken and mushrooms.  Grease a 9 inch deep dish pie pan, lay the bottom crust in the pan and fill the crust with the chicken filling, lay the top crust over the filling and fold the top crust under the bottom one around the edge, crimp how you would like.  Poke a slit in the top to let steam escape, brush with egg wash(beaten egg with a little water, used to brown) and bake in 350F oven until golden brown

As for butter vs margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.~Joan Gussow


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