Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
No. Just hell no. I like a good meat pie as much as the next person, maybe more, but I don’t want the ingredients alive. Not that anybody ate that thing, in Roman and medieval feasts such concoctions were designed as entertainment for the diners. Although I doubt the birds thought it a very entertaining idea.
But with the current weather the thought of a warm, filling, savory pie has appeal. There’s a reason people have been eating them since before the ancient Egyptians and why versions exist around the world from Shepherd’s pie in the United Kingdom to the empanadas in Latin America and the various versions of meat pies in Nigeria, the Middle East and India.
I love the ones at Frank’s Americana Revival that are thick with big juicy pieces of white meat and the one at Grace’s with a hint of tarragon and thyme.
And who can forge the seal flipper pie eaten by Kevin Spacey in The Shipping News? I mean I’d like to, but I can’t.
Most folks around here are more familiar with the Americanized pot pie, probably dating back to their childhood when even home cooks occasionally bought frozen Swanson chicken and turkey pot pies to serve to the kids as a quick and easy meal. I know I ate more than a few growing up.
But when it came time to buy my own I switched to Marie Callender’s, which were perfectly serviceable although not nearly as good as the fresh baked ones you could get in the restaurant (anyone remember when there was an MC’s restaurant in The Galleria area?)
True Chef Power
Steps above frozen are the take-out rotisserie chicken pot pies at Boston Market, but the real winner winner chicken dinners are those that are being turned out by chefs at restaurants featuring comfort foods. I love the ones at Frank’s Americana Revival that are thick with big juicy pieces of white meat and the one at Grace’s with a hint of tarragon and thyme.
Dish Society does a deconstructed one with carrots, parsnips, onion, parsley and a thick piece of flaky puff pastry on the side. And hey, chef Michael Pellegrino, next time you bring back some classics to the Max’s Wine Dive menu, please add that divine lobster pot pie you did a few years back. That was delicious.
Dish Society does a deconstructed one with carrots, parsnips, onion, parsley and a thick piece of flaky puff pastry on the side.
Oh, but there are dozens and dozens of pot pie versions around town that are drool worthy and capable of warming you up on a cold, wet day. Still, you can always make your own at home. Campbell’s has been advertising this mini chicken pot pie a lot this winter and it seems pretty easy to make, but I prefer a flakier crust and a lid on my pie.
One recipe I found that I’m going to try is from a 1950 cookbook and it isn’t your normal chicken pot pie. It’s made with a pound and a half of chicken liver sauteed with onions and mushrooms. The bottom of an earthenware pie dish is covered with sliced potatoes, seasoned to taste, the liver mixture poured on then topped with uncooked peas, more potatoes and liver mixture and thinned sour cream. And then . . . and then! . . . slices of blanched bacon strips.
The pie pastry goes on top, slits are made and the whole thing goes into a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. After 30 minutes pour three tablespoons of Madeira wine into the slits, finish baking and serve hot.
Now that’s a meat pie!