the illustrious pie

I have eaten no other chicken pot pie that is better than the one I make myself. Theoretically, the pursuit of other excellent pies of this nature was the raison d'etre of this blog, but then I realized that not enough restaurants/other people actually make it.

For those folks who have previously found this blog looking for pie and been disappointed to find only design-y type crap, be disappointed no longer! I shall share my illustrious pie with you.

The Old-Fashioned and Illustriously Delicious Pie
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

from the Williams-Sonoma cookbook

  • 2/3 cup cold butter
  • 6 TBS cold vegetable shortening (preferably butter-flavored Crisco)
  • 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8-10 TBS cold water

    Mix the dry ingredients. Add the shortening in tablespoon-sized globs; add the butter in tablespoon-sized slices. Work in butter and shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture forms fine crumbs. You can also do this with two butter knives if you've lost/have yet to purchase a pastry blender, but it's a pain in the ass. The goal is not to melt the butter. Add the cold water, enough to make the dough stick together in a ball. Less is better, because too much water will make the crust tough, but too little water will cause you to scream and beat your head against the wall when you have to roll it out. Divide the dough into two balls (upper and lower crust), wrap each in plastic wrap, and put in the refrigerator to chill for an hour, or until you're done making the filling.

  • Filling
    from the 1996 Betty Crocker cookbook

  • 4 small to medium-sized potatoes
  • 7-8 baby carrots or 2 big carrots
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 small stalks celery
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or thereabouts)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (or thereabouts)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp each of sage, thyme, and/or rosemary
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups of cooked chicken or turkey chunks

    First, boil potatoes and carrots. Set aside. (Add some frozen peas at this step if you like peas.) Cut up onion and celery; cook on high heat in a bit of oil until onion is translucent and slightly caramelized. If you aren't using pre-cooked chicken, then cook the chicken in oil first and then add the onions and celery. Melt the butter in the onion-celery mixture; add the flour, salt, pepper, and spices. Cook on medium heat, stirring VERY FAST, until it bubbles. Turn off; add milk and broth. Heat again on medium, stirring EVEN FASTER, until it boils and thickens. Add chicken (if it's not already in there) and potatoes and carrots (and peas if you like them.)

    If you need a vegetarian version, use vegetable broth (Swanson's is quite nice) and the same amount of chopped mushrooms -- white or shiitake do nicely.

    Get your crust out of the refrigerator; roll out two rounds on a floured surface (I usually do this on a cookie sheet for easier cleanup.) Spray down a large pie pan with Pam or similar cooking spray, put in one crust. Spoon in (cooled) filling. Invariably you will have extra filling which you must eat yourself. Ahem. Roll out top crust on top of filling. Crimp edges and cut decorative patterns in top of pie for steam venting. Using this recipe of crust, there will most likely be extra to make cinnamon sugar pie crust cookies with. (Use milk to stick the sugar on, and watch them carefully because they burn fast.) Put your pie pan on a cookie sheet because this will invariably boil over and, sans cookie sheet, set off the fire alarm. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

    Sometimes one does not have time for the Illustrious Pie, but still wants Pie.

    The Faster and Only Slightly Less Delicious Pie

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

    Purchase a pre-made crust, the kind that comes in a disposable foil pie pan.

  • 1 10.5-oz can of one of the following: Cream of chicken soup, cream of celery soup, or cream of mushroom soup
  • 1-2 soup cans water
  • 1 chicken breast worth of cooked chicken chunks (can be canned chicken)
  • 2-3 potatoes worth of potato chunks (can be canned potatoes, though those taste noticeably not as good)
  • 1 cup mixed veggies (preferably carrots and peas) (can be from can or freezer bag)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 small stalks celery
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp each of sage, thyme, and/or rosemary
  • Dash of pepper
  • Some oil

    Chop onion and celery as finely as you prefer (I prefer very fine.) Heat oil on high in a pan. Fry onion and celery until the onion is soft and slightly caramelized. Turn the heat down to medium; add soup, water, and rest of ingredients. Stir vigorously. Cook until somewhat thickened, heated all the way through, and/or until you judge the spices have had time to permeate the canned veggies, 10-20 minutes. Let cool. Spoon into crust. You'll also end up with extra filling with this recipe.

    Use aforementioned mushroom/vegetable cream soup substitution for vegetarian pie.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 4-8 TBS butter
  • 1 cups mashed potatoes flakes

    Heat milk, water, and butter in a microwaveable bowl until hot; stir in potato flakes until thick. Spoon on top of crust. Depending on how much you like butter/your arteries, melt more butter and drizzle on top for increased chance of crispiness.

    Bake for 15-20 minutes on the top shelf, or until the crust looks brown.