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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

Chicken Pot Pie

April 2, 2013



Chicken pot pie might be the quintessential family-supper comfort food.

Some could make a valid case for pot roast or meatloaf. Others might cast their vote for beef stew. Healthier types would argue for baked or roasted chicken. Many southerners would insist that fried chicken be listed at the top of the family-comfort food chain.

Not me, I am a chicken pot pie man to the core. It’s perfect— poultry, vegetables, piecrust. It’s hot, is silky, it’s a one-dish meal. Chicken pot pie is my go-to family comfort food.

Unfortunately, it’s a family of one. My wife will eat it if she has to, but my kids hate it.

To them, chicken pot pie is beef tongue, Brussels sprouts, and liver mousse wrapped into one dish.

Seriously, I would love to be able to write a column that states, “My family sits down to supper once a week and eats chicken pot pie while we discuss the events of the day, their stellar report cards, and the beauty of one-dish, chicken and vegetable-spiked comfort food.” You will never see that column. We are working on the report cards, the fight for chicken potpie appears hopeless.

They hate chicken pot pie. It’s the thing that I keep forcing on them, hoping one day that it will catch on. I don’t know what there is to dislike. They like chicken, and they eat all manner of poultry. They aren’t chicken-strip kids. They eat their vegetables— they’re not the type offspring who never eat anything green. They certainly enjoy pie. “So what’s not to like?” I ask them.

“I just don’t like it,” one of them will reply.

They have fairly sophisticated palates. They haven’t led a sheltered culinary life. Years ago I swore I was not going to raise one of those kids who only eats fried chicken strips no matter what type restaurant they are in. Never.

We ate chicken pot pie for supper last week. My son just moved it around on his plate and then ate a bowl of cereal afterwards. We had chicken pot pie again last night. My daughter headed me off at the pass and had cereal before supper was served.

Who are these people that will turn down perfectly good hot comfort food for cold cereal? It must be their mother’s blood.

Half of the readers at this point are stating, “I know what I would do. I would make those two kids eat whatever I put in front of them.”

Hold you water, Polly Pious. Two things:

1.)  Early on I learned it’s best to pick my battles. I feel it’s best to take a stand on more important food in a restaurant, such as goose-liver pate or fiddlehead ferns and ramps.

2.)   The less they eat, the more that’s left for me.

Actually, #2 is more accurate. It’s all about what’s left for me. I can eat a whole chicken pot pie. If there is a little on their plates, then I don’t feel so guilty. It’s like we’re all having family supper, but I’m the only one who is happy. Is that selfish? Maybe so, but remember, we’re talking about God’s gift to comfort food— chicken pot pie.

Other than hamburgers and peanut butter sandwiches, chicken pot pie might be the one food I have consistently eaten throughout my life. Even as a poor and starving college student I ate chicken pot pie.

Many of the broke college students of my era lived off of Ramen noodles. Not me. I lived off of crappy, frozen chicken pot pies. Those kind that you could buy in the freezer section of the grocery store for less than a dollar.

It was the perfect college-apartment food. Even as bad as those probably were, I have fond memories of them. Those were the days before microwaves. One needed patience to eat a crappy frozen chicken pot pie as they took about an hour to cook from a frozen state.

I sat alone in my sparsely furnished apartment listening to Elvis Costello and Frank Zappa records eating crappy chicken pot pie. Today, I’m still listening to Frank Zappa and Elvis Costello on vinyl and eating chicken pot pie. The surroundings are a little nicer, the chicken pot pie has certainly improved, the conversation is better, yet I’m still a chicken pot pie party of one.

They’ll figure out what they are missing one of these days. Then again, if I’m lucky, maybe they won’t.



Chicken Pot Pie


1 /2cup Butter

1 /2 cup Flour

1 /2 cup Carrots, diced

1 /2 cup Onion, diced

1 /2 cup Celery, diced

1 /2 cup Butter beans, cooked

1 /4 tsp Thyme, ground

2 tsp. Salt

1 1 /2 tsp Black pepper

2 1 /2 cups Chicken broth, hot

1 1 /2 cup Chicken, cooked, diced

2 Pie crusts


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.


Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add flour to make a blonde roux. Cook four to five minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add vegetables and continue to cook five to seven minutes. Add thyme, salt and pepper. Slowly stir in hot chicken broth. Simmer 10 minutes stirring often to prevent sticking.


Add diced chicken and remove from the heat. Allow filling to cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.


Roll out the piecrusts. Place one on the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Fill with the chicken mixture. Top with the remaining piecrust and crimp edges to seal. Using a paring knife cut six slits into the crust so the pie can vent. Brush with egg wash.


Bake one hour. Allow to rest 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Yield: 8 servings




Pie Crust


2 cups Flour

1 cup Shortening

1 /4 tsp Salt

1 Egg

1 /3 cup Milk


Blend the first three ingredients together with a pastry cutter or a fork. Beat egg and milk together. Slowly add egg/milk mixture to flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time until pie dough becomes moist and forms a ball. Divide into half and shape into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate one hour before rolling. Roll out on a floured surface. Yield: Two crusts




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