Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pot Pies

I remember eating frozen pot pies a couple of times as a teen. In our house, they were seen with the same ilk as TV Dinners. As newlyweds, I asked Scott what his favorite foods were so I could fix them, He listed Tuna Noodle Casserole, Beef Pot Pies, Grandma Pearl’s Fried Chicken and Biscuits, Steak, and that was about it. The list of foods he didn’t like was miles long!

Well, pot pies went on sale and I bought a few and cooked them up. For our 20 year old palates, used to too much salt and fat, they weren’t bad. So I added them to our meals about once a month. While I loved the tuna and chicken, Scott was a beef kind of guy.

Twenty years later, I was going through a bout of depression, Scott took over the shopping and filled a corner of the freezer with pot pies. I could barely eat them. Overly salted, full of fat, chunks of gristly meat, and very few vegetables; yech. I would rather eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich than those things.

As I came out of my fugue, I decided to add homemade pot pies back to the menu. After all, they are just a nice thick stew cooked in a pastry shell.

Pot Pie

Pre-heat oven to 400F Place a cookie sheet on the middle rack

Pie Crust
½ cup Crisco shortening To measure, using a 1 quart liquid measure, put 2 cups of water in the measure, add Crisco to raise the water to 2 ½ cups. Remove the shortening to a mixing bowl.
1 cup unbleached flour
1 pinch salt
¼ cup ice cold water

Cut the shortening into the flour and salt using a pastry cutter, fork, or two knives until the mixture looks like peas.
Add the ice water a little at a time to one corner of the flour mixture. Mix with a fork until the area is damp. Go to the next area and do the same thing. Do not over mix, you don’t want to activate the gluten in the flour.
When the flour is all gathered up in a ball, turn it out onto a floured board, cover with a towel and let sit 15 minutes to rest.
Roll out the dough into the shape of the pan you are using. Be sure to use a floured board and rolling pin.

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast cut into small squares
½ onions chopped small
1 rib celery, chopped small
½ colorful pepper, chopped small
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 quarts chicken broth
1 Potato, cubed small
1 carrot, cubed small
1 TBSP fresh sage, chopped or 1 tsp dried
1TBSP fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour

Heat the oil until it shimmers in a non-stick skillet

Brown the chicken with the onion, celery, and pepper

While you are doing that:
Put the chicken broth, potato, and carrot into a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the sage and thyme.

Prepare your casserole
If you prefer a bottom crust, I certainly do, double the pie crust recipe and roll out two
Fit one of the crusts in the bottom and sides of your casserole

When the chicken mixture is browned add it to the saucepan and stir.
Melt the butter in the skillet and add the flour and allow to cook until it is foamy
Pour into the saucepan and stir gently

Now, Carefully, ladle the contents of the saucepan into the casserole.
Top with second crust, crimp the edges and cut a steam hole in the top crust.
Brush the crust with 1 egg beaten with 1 TBSP water

Bake 400F on the cookie sheet to brown the lower crust; for 20 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden.

Let rest 10 minutes after removing from the oven

Serves 4

To make Beef Pot Pie just substitute beef stock and cut up beef – a great recipe for leftover roast beef and gravy
Tuna Pot Pie, my favorite: Just drain two cans of Solid White AlbacoreTuna in Water and add to the chicken stock.
Or leave out the meat, use vegetable stock and mushrooms, again one of my favorites!

My vegetable stock is saved cooking water from potatoes, peas, corn, green beans all frozen in layers in a one quart container.
I also take the stems of mushrooms and boil them for about 20 min, strain and add that to the veg stock container.

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