For the better part of last year – the part where I wasn’t testing pie recipes, making videos for The Pie Academy, or going over to the beach as much as I wanted to – I was creating and testing recipes for my upcoming book, Comfort Food, to be published this fall by my good friends at The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
I was reminded of precisely how much testing while knee deep in a recent tax season review of my food receipts which read, in aggregate, something like a comfort food requisition for a six month pleasure cruise on an aircraft carrier.
There are, among other items, mountains of ground beef (think tender meatballs and tempting meatloaves) and enough pasta, eggs and cheese (mac & cheese and other comforting casseroles) to be recognized as a one-man economic stimulus package.
Not to mention no trifling amount of poultry, especially chicken, much of it earmarked for one of my favorite recipes in Comfort Food – chicken pot pie.
In my book, literally, chicken pot pie is the very essence of comfort food. For one, it’s got a crust. For two, it’s hearty and proud of it. Three, four, and five, it’s saucy, delicious, and makes you want to close your eyes, lean back in your chair, and daydream about a time when life was a bit slower and a lot more simple. Sigh…
Speaking of simple, chicken pot pie is not difficult to make. No, it’s not as easy as tossing a packaged one in the microwave. But our aim here isn’t instant gratification. It’s gradual gratification, built upon good ingredients, handwork and puttering, and heightened by expectation – your own and that of those gathered. Real cooking, in other words.
It’s also an opportunity to trot out some of your favorite individual pie and casserole dishes (which I discuss in the video above). Sure, you can make this as one full size pie. But I never pass up an opportunity to make individual servings, which multiplies the specialness quotient by a factor of at least 10. Several important studies back me up on this.
Along with which dishes to use, there is the pressing issue of one crust or two. Do I use just the top crust? Or do I go to the extra trouble and line the pan with pastry, too? – something else I discuss in the video above. But as a lover of all things pastry, I think you already know which side of the issue I come down on. What’s your preference?
Spring may be in the air, but there’s still enough cool days ahead to try your hand at chicken pot pie. Who knows: maybe you’ll have some leftover chicken or vegetables to use up after this Easter weekend. As I mention in the video, I don’t mind taking a few shortcuts, like using leftovers on hand, to streamline the preparation of this comfort food dish.
Between now and fall I’ll be giving you an occasional peek at some of the other great dishes in Comfort Food. So stay tuned. Meanwhile, have a fabulous week and go make some memorable food.
RECIPE NOTES – For the pastry, use either the GOOD BASIC PIE DOUGH or the FOOD PROCESSOR PIE DOUGH. If you’re using a top and bottom crust for your pot pies (4 to 5 servings), you’ll need to make the recipe twice. For top crusts only, just make it once.