When I visited Italy, one of the best pieces of advice I got was to avoid restaurants that served lasagna. Why? Because it’s the true sign of a tourist trap, a friend explained–lasagna is the kind of homey, unpretentious meal you only make for your family, like meatloaf or chicken pot pie. At the time (gosh, that was over ten years ago now!), before comfort food became a hipster standby and you would only get meatloaf or chicken pot pie at Applebees or a wayward diner, that advice made sense. (And it brought us to some great restaurants, too.)
But here’s the thing: I never do make chicken pot pie or meatloaf for myself, although they do sound as delicious and homey as a good homemade lasagna, indeed. Nor do I order them at even cool hipstery restaurants, in fact–I’m not sure why not! But when I saw a simple-looking recipe in a new cookbook I just grabbed from the library (Eating Close to Home: A Guide to Local Seasonal Sustenance in the Pacific Northwest), I thought it was finally worth breaking my pot pie cherry. (Mmmm…cherry pot pie?)
And here are the two awesome things I learned. 1. It’s totally versatile! Once you get the template down, you can mix and match with whatever you got. And on that note, 2. It’s one of the easier and more delicious ways to use up leftovers! Once you make the ooey-gooey filling, you just add whatever cooked poultry and vegetables you have (broccoli! chard! parsnips!), top it with biscuits, and you’re ready to rock.
Now that we’ve tried it, here’s what I’ll do next time, actually – when we roast a chicken, we’ll add some extra potatoes and carrots. We’ve been trying to make sure and use the chicken carcass to make some stock, so we can have some good, rich stock on hand, too. (Side note: I’m never organized enough to use it every time, but when we do, MAN it’s good! How did I go without homemade stock for so long, too?) Anyway, a couple of days later, we’ll just dice up the leftover chicken, potatoes, and carrots. Casserole city.
So here’s the original recipe – enjoy, and play away. Let me know what combos you come up with!
Chicken Pot Pie – from Elin Kristina England’s Eating Close to Home
FOR THE SAUCE:
3 T butter
1/2 c diced onion
1/2 c diced celery
1 bay leaf
3 T flour
1 1/2 c chicken stock
1 1/2 c milk
Dash or two of Tabasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the celery, onion and bay leaf. Cover and cook until the vegetables are soft. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, stir well and cook for 5 minutes.
Stir in the stock and milk. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, add the Tabasco and Worcestershire, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chicken, potatoes, carrots, peas, and parsley (or whatever you use as the filling). Keep warm as you make the biscuit dough.
FOR THE FILLING:
1-2 c shredded or diced cooked chicken
3/4 lb potatoes, diced and cooked
2-3 carrots, diced and cooked
4-6 oz frozen peas or edamame
1/2 c chopped parsley
After topped with the biscuit dough, transfer the filling to a 3-quart oven-proof casserole. Drop the dough over the filling with a large spoon, spacing it evenly to make about 6 biscuits. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the biscuits are lightly browned and the pie is bubbling. Serve hot.
1 c white flour (or use half whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 t baking powder
pinch of salt
3 T cold butter
1/2 c milk
3 T chopped dill (or 1 1/2 T dried)
Preheat the oven to 425. Sift the four, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl. Cut in the butter using a knife or a pastry blender. Work the dough until it is the size of peas. Add the milk and dill and stir for a minute or until the dough leaves the side of the bowl. It will be a bit sticky.