Here in the South, the words “chicken pie” will bring all sorts of positive reactions! There are those who associate it with days gone by, where it was made and served on Sunday or on special occasions. Some remember it best from a local restaurant or cafeteria, declaring it the “best in the world!” And let’s not forget the school systems who used to prepare it for the student’s and teacher’s lunch and for fund-raising events. This is where I remember it best, in that the chicken pie I had while in elementary school was the best I remember having at that time.
If you look at chicken pie recipes we see in present time, they certainly are good and easy, so there’s no reason anyone can’t make a chicken pie. But today, let’s turn back the hands of time and make “Old-Fashioned Chicken Pie”. This recipe is quite old and is very traditional. It’s more involved to prepare, but every bit as good as you may remember it being from the past.
In this recipe, you use a 3 pound broiler-fryer. The original recipe states to split it down the back and press it open as if you were going to broil it. I find that this helps the chicken cook faster and prevents the meat from darkening. It cooks in seasoned water, which will make the broth you’ll use in the recipe later on. When the chicken is ready (and it’ll fall from the bones when it is), you remove all the meat from the bones, discarding any skin, gristle or dark veins. The pie crust is fresh and homemade, too. It’s made like the traditional pie crust, though the recipe contains baking powder to give the dough some rise. The stock from cooking the chicken is thickened with flour to make a gravy that’s combined with the chicken.
When everything is made, you assemble the pie by first lining the baking pan with enough pastry to go on the bottom and sides of the pan. Then, part of the chicken and gravy mixture goes into the crust, followed by slices of hard-cooked eggs. The layering is repeated and topped with the top layer of crust. It’s then baked until it’s golden and hot. And you have an old-fashioned main dish that will go great with candied sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and a hot bread.
When you begin to long for the good old days of old-fashioned food, this very recipe will hopefully bring back some good memories of the past!
OLD-FASHIONED CHICKEN PIE
Preparing the chicken:
- 3 lb. broiler-fryer
- hot water to cover
- 1 teaspoon grated onion
- salt and pepper to taste
Place chicken, split down the back and pressed open as for broiling in a deep pot or Dutch oven. The chicken isn’t cut up at this point, as this turns the meat dark. Cover with hot water, adding the onion and salt and pepper. Simmer until meat falls from the bones. Remove chicken from the broth and reserve. Remove meat from the bones, discarding any skin, gristle and dark veins. With kitchen shears, cut meat into one inch pieces. Mix the white meat well with the dark and set aside.
- 3 cups reserved chicken broth
- 3 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 (or more) hard-cooked eggs
- reserved chicken meat, about 3 cups
Place the chicken broth in a large pan with the milk. Thicken with the flour, cooking this to the consistency of heavy cream. Combine with the reserved chopped chicken and set aside.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 egg, beaten lightly
- ice water to bind dough together
Combine flour with salt and baking powder. With a pastry cutter, two knives or a fork, cut in the shortening to form a meal-like consistency. Add the egg and enough ice water to form the mixture into a dough. Roll out enough pastry thin to line a 9×13 inch pan on the bottom and sides. Bake at 450 degrees until brown. Add part of the chicken-gravy mixture, followed by a layer of hard-cooked eggs that have been sliced to the baked pastry. Continue to alternate layers of the chicken mixture with the eggs until all is layered. Roll out the remaining dough thick, making it larger than the top of the pan to allow crimping of the crust. Place over the top of the pan and seal the pastry around the edges. Crimp the edges of the pastry to give it a decorative appearance. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the top pastry is brown and the pie is hot and bubbling. Yield: 6 servings.