Food & Drink

March 18, 2014

A chicken pot pie habit

Food writer Andrea Weigl loves pot pie and learns a few tricks for moving beyond the classic version.

My husband teases me about my affection for pot pies.

To him, pot pie is just all right. To me, a chicken pot pie is the real reason to roast a chicken.

I keep a stash in the freezer to support my habit. The leftovers from roast chicken go in a zip-top bag in the freezer. The leftovers from grilled chicken breasts join them, as well as any Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey leftovers. (And yes, I still have some.)

This is all so on a busy weeknight, I can quickly assemble a meal. Before readers helped me get past my twin mental blocks on making homemade gravy and pie dough, that meal used to require mainly convenience foods: frozen peas and corn, a jar of gravy and store-bought pie dough. Mix the gravy, vegetables and chopped chicken in a casserole dish, top with a pie crust and about 30 minutes later, you have a bubbly pot pie ready to come out of the oven.

Now, I save the drippings from the roast chicken and stash those in the freezer as well to make homemade gravy. I can make pie dough ahead of time, stash it in the freezer and pull it out to thaw while I’m at work. Recently, I’ve taken to making biscuits as soon as I get home as a base for that delicious, gravy-soaked chicken and vegetables. While not as quick as my convenience-food method, I was still able to get dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. (It helps that I set out my skillet, bowl, biscuit cutter and lined cookie sheet before I go to work.)

While reporting today’s story on savory pies, I discovered I can expand my repertoire even more. Not only would biscuits and pie dough work, so would a topping of leftover mashed potatoes, à la shepherd’s pie, or a golden disk of baked puff pastry, or even the corn puree that cookbook author David Joachim calls for in the Chilean meat and corn pie.

The point is that the savory pie genre is inherently versatile. The topping can depend on what you have on hand, how much time you have to cook or what you crave at the moment.

I haven’t made my husband as big a fan of a chicken pot pie as I am.

But I’ve discovered a whole new set of tricks to continue the campaign and – best of all –indulge my habit.

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