You can read the introduction to this recipe on my blog.
If I buy the chicken, I get organic. If Andy buys it, he gets the non-organic. He claims his tastes better. I can’t tell much difference, and I prefer to buy organic when it’s available and it tastes as good as the non-organic. Your preference.
To cook the chicken breasts, you can a) saute them in water in a skillet, or b) throw them on the grill with dinner the day before, or c) speedcook them an Advantium oven. I like the Advantium technique the best as the chicken turns out really moist and tender in only 10 minutes. Cooking extra meat on the grill the day before is another great option, but just be sure to store it so the chicken doesn’t dry out. Microwaving the chicken would probably be fine, but I haven’t tried it.
I use an organic carrots, peas, corn, green beans mix. For a larger pie, I use the one pound bag of vegetables. You can use the kind with cubed carrots, or baby carrots. Both are good. Does organic matter? When I can get organic at my regular store, I buy it, but I just get whatever they have when they’re out. You can get organic at Walmart, so it isn’t that hard to find. And I figure the more organic I buy, the more organic my grocer will carry.
I prefer the Healthy Choice version of the celery soup because it has less fat and less sodium than the regular soup. Sure, you can use the leaded stuff, but why? Why not have pot pie that is delicious and good for you?
I’ve tried a bunch of different chicken and vegetable broths. Sometimes the one with the least sodium isn’t labelled as low sodium, so you’ve got to read the labels. Since the recipe doesn’t need much broth, I generally opt for something that is resealable. It’ll last in the fridge a couple of weeks, and I can get another pie out of it, or make the chicken bowtie pasta that uses chicken broth, too.
I don’t use a measuring cup for the half cup of broth. I just use the empty celery soup can, filling it about half-way up. Maybe it isn’t exactly a half cup, but that’s the right amount.
Any old white flour will do, but as I said, I’ll buy organic if I can get it at my regular grocer. That’ll make one more bit of wheat field without weird chemicals leaching into the groundwater, or running off into the streams. I loved playing in the stream near our apartment when I was a kid. Sometimes we’d find salamanders under the rocks.
I decided to try a little whole wheat flour in the crust when I was trying to find ways to use up the whole wheat flour, and it adds just a bit more crunch and heartiness to the crust. Extra yummy! The only problem with whole wheat is that it has a shorter shelf life than white flour, and in my house, I invariably end up tossing a bunch out when it expires. But it adds so much flavor, not to mention being good for you, I buy it anyway. But if you’d rather, you can certainly use white flour entirely. I did for years, and didn’t know what I was missing.
Yeah, I know, why do all the low sodium stuff and then put salt in the crust? Because it tastes better. And pastry crust is supposed to have salt.
It may be shortening, but it has no trans fats. I buy the kind that comes in sticks. It’s infinitely easier to measure than the old water displacement trick. But before I found the sticks, I would pour a cup of cold water into a measuring cup, draw out three tablespoons of the water, and then spoon in Crisco until the water came back up to the one cup line. I’d pour out most of the measuring water, then lift out the Crisco and put it into the bowl with the flour. Why not pour out all the cold water? Because the next ingredient is:
- Stir the chicken, vegetables, soup, and broth together in a bowl. If it starts to freeze into clumps, just add a little more broth, but don’t let it get too soupy. Turn the mixture out into your pie dish. I used to use a regular nine inch pie dish, but I’ve moved up to a casserole dish that holds a bit more pie.
- In a small bowl, mix the flours and salt. Use a pastry cutter and cut in the Crisco until the flour is all crumbs. Pour in the cold water, and mix it into the flour with your fingers, using a continous pinching motion, folding it together again and again, until all the flour is in a flaky ball. I’ve heard that you can make a good crust with a food processor, but fingers require no electricity. Or counter space.
- Turn the pastry dough out onto a floured surface and roll the pie into a thin crust that will cover your dish. I use a rolling pin with ball bearings (sweet!) and an extra-large chopping board to roll out my pie crust. In my dream kitchen, I will have an unpolished marble counter space, like the baking table in the house we lived in when I was a little girl. It was a former plantation house, and had lots of other cool things, like an enclosed water tower where owls roosted (and hooted), a smoke house, a humongous eleagnus bush, tea olive trees, a pomegranate bush, huge beds of daffodils and parsley and clover, a joggling board, a grand piano, and a narrow servants’ stairwell into the kitchen. It was perfect for all kinds of little girl make believe games.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve used oversized toaster ovens to bake my pies for years. The Cuisinart did a fine job, but I sometimes had to cover the edges of the pie with tin foil to keep them from burning. The new Breville is just as good at holding temperature, but has a lower baking rack so it doesn’t burn as easily. Plus it holds a bigger casserole dish. More pie! You can get either one at Bed Bath and Beyond.
- Cover the pie dish with the pastry dough and trim the extra away from the edges. If you have some tiny cookie cutters, you can cut out little decorations from the trimmings to go around the edge of the pie. If you don’t have any tiny cookie cutters, go get some. It’s a fun way to use up the extra pastry dough, and let your daughter or granddaughter be part of the fun. Keep the decorations small, with only one in the center, if any. If they’re too big, the pastry under the decoration won’t bake properly.
- Bake the pie for 30 minutes, and serve hot. You can use your main oven to cook steak fries while the pie cooks, and have a traditional British meal of pie and chips. It’s a great way to make the pie stretch beyond 3 or 4 people. If you’re using a toaster oven, you can also put your plates or bowls on top to warm them up while the pie cooks. This is very helpful if you’re going to have chips, to keep them from going cold too quickly. It also keeps the pie warm. Not that it lasts very long.