Chicken Pot Pie. Now that’s a blast from the past.
With the most recent cold snap in Minneapolis and a drawer full of vegetables from the last of my CSA, I’ve had chicken pot pie on the mind.
When I think of chicken pot pie, I reminded of the summer I spent taking care of my great-grandmother (the one who inspired this milkshake). I must have been 14 or so and my great-grandmother was living with my grandparents. My mom would drop me off on her way into work in the morning and pick me up on her way home. I would spend the day cleaning up my grandparent’s house, which meant dragging the 95-pound vacuum cleaner over the shag carpet and running the laundry, as well as making sure that my great-grandmother took her medications. I also got to pick out which pastel sweatsuit Grandma would wear for the day. During the in-between-times we would watch old episodes of game shows like Family Feud and the Price is Right. Well, I would watch the game shows and Grandma Pete would doze off in her chair. Other times I would dig through her jewelry box in awe (Grandma could rock the ugliest sweatsuit with a fabulous pair of pearl earrings).
I was responsible for making sure the old women ate – which was no easy feat. As a 14-year old in the kitchen, my skills were limited. I would poach eggs for breakfast and boil hot dogs for lunch. But for dinner, I would roll up my sleeves and make chicken pot pie. I think I must have made it at least once a week that summer. (Here’s my exact recipe from over 15 years ago, complete with girlish handwriting and mispellings…)
As a young person, my great-grandmother’s extreme old age scared me. I certainly didn’t take advantage of the time we spent together the way that I would today. She had an entire lifetime prior to that summer. And aside from my early childhood memories of banana milkshakes and grilled cheese, the only thing that I really know about her is that she was sent home from school (she was a teacher) for wearing pants to work sometime in the ancient past when such an action was deemed inappropriate for the fairer sex.
I regret that I wasted such precious time with somebody who had such gumption. I also regret that I made chicken pot pie with canned cream of broccoli soup, frozen vegetables and refrigerator rolls. At least I can rectify one of those regrets…
Chicken Pot Pie
serves 4-6********** Filling 2 chicken breasts, cubed 1/2 onion, diced 2-3 medium carrots, diced 4-5 small potatoes, diced 1/2 head cauliflower (or broccoli) 2/3 cups frozen peas 1 teaspoon dried thyme 3 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons flour 3 cups whole milk 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese Biscuit topping 1 1/3 cups flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese 1 egg 1/3 cup buttermilk 1 egg yolk **********
1. Cook the chicken in a large, deep sided frying pan over medium heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. Add onions to the frying pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the carrots and potatoes and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes more. Add cauliflower and frozen peas. Season with thyme and salt and pepper and continue cooking until vegetables are not-quite soft. Take off heat and add chicken back.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for a minute before adding the milk. Cook until thick, about 10 minutes. Whisk in nutmeg and parmesan cheese, stirring until cheese is melted. Stir into the cooked vegetables and pour into a large, deep-sided pie dish or 9 x 13 glass casserole dish.
4. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in cold butter until it resembles cornmeal. Stir in cheddar cheese. In a separate bowl, beat egg and buttermilk together and then pour into the flour mixture and mix until dough comes together.
5. Knead a couple of times and pat out dough on counter to ~1/2 inch thick. Cut into biscuits, either with a glass or cute cookie cutter and place on top of pie filling about 1/2 inch apart. Brush biscuits with egg yolk.
6. Bake at 425º for about 15 minutes or until the biscuits are a golden brown.