I wonder why Americans add “pot” in the name of a meat pie. In the U.K. this is a “chicken pie with roasted veg”, but here in the states, it is a “chicken pot pie”. It doesn’t really matter to me what it is called, as long as its delicious … which this pie is!

Pot pies or pies in a pastry crust seem to have gone out of fashion. You can’t beat them, however, when the weather is as cold and gloomy as it has been and you need something hearty and comforting. They’re also a great way to use up whatever leftovers you may have in the frig. If you want a real time saver, you can buy pre-made pie dough at the grocery store, and along with a rotisserie chicken and a package of frozen vegetables (all of which I’ve done before), just assemble and bake.

Not today though. The chicken is going to be marinated and the vegetables are going to be roasted, which gives this pie a whole new dimension and depth of flavor. Although this is a ‘from scratch’ recipe, all of it can be done ahead of time … make the dough one day (up to three days in advance) … the vegetables another … and the chicken another. But it’s a very wintry day, and I’m in the mood to bake.

Preheated oven – 400°F. Roasting time – 20 to 30 mins. Baking time – 30 mins.

2 to 3 lbs. skinless chicken (breast, leg, thigh or combination)
Pie Crust for 2 9” pies
1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped  
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine or water
2 teaspoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water = slurry
1/2 cup cream
6 cups vegetables – cut in chunky pieces
– carrots
– sweet potatoes
– onions
– bell peppers, red and/or green
– mushrooms
(or any combination – Brussel sprouts, parsnips, cauliflower, etc)
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 egg

Early in the day (or the day before) prepare the marinade.  Mix all in a bowl and set aside. Cut the chicken into cubes, about 2”.  Pour the marinade over the chicken, cover and refrigerate … at least two hours. When you are ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Peel and cut the vegetables into chunky pieces. Put them into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Spread the veg on a roasting pan and roast for about 30 to 40 minutes until tender and browned. After they are beautifully charred, let them cool and, if too big, cut into bite-sized pieces.

While the vegetables are roasting, heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade with a slotted spoon and brown in the hot pan. Don’t fuss with them, let them brown – 3 to 4 minutes. Then add the chicken stock, the remaining marinade and bring to a boil. Meanwhile make a slurry with the cornstarch and water.  After the chicken mixture has reached a boil, add the cornstarch slurry to thicken and make a gravy.  When it has thickened, take it off the heat and add the cream.  (I said this was hearty …  not lo-cal.) Taste for seasoning.

Add the vegetables to the chicken mixture and stir to combine.  Again, check for seasoning. The liquid may have thinned. If it’s too runny, add more of the slurry to thicken it.

Spoon the chicken and vegetable filling into pie plates … one very large pie plate or casserole, two 8″ pie plates, or many individual ones.

Roll out the pastry dough. Not too thin. Cover the mixture with the pie crust. Press down slightly and seal the edges. Brush with a beaten egg and then cut little slits in the crust for the steam to escape. It’s always fun to decorate with the scraps of pie dough (which, you can see, I did.)

I made one large 9″ and two smaller, single serving pies, which are going into the freezer to be baked and enjoyed another day. Bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and the filling is piping hot.

Serve immediately with a nice crisp salad and glass of wine. So delicious. So comforting. So good!

I hope you enjoy this comforting meal as much as we did.

Soup’s On!

When I was a little girl I used to love to go to the library.  It was such a fascinating place.  I loved the high ceilings, the wood paneling and, to my amazement, they had a section just for kids with child-sized tables and chairs, and books … so-o-o many  books!  I’d spend hours at the library completely entertained.  On long holiday weekends and over summer vacation, we used to take a trip to visit my grandparents.  On one visit, I was about 8 or 9 years old, when it was time to pack up and go home, no one could find me.  I remember hearing about how they searched the neighborhood because I was nowhere to be seen.  Where was I? At the library!

What does any of this have to do with soup?  In the library I would always search for my favorite book, STONE SOUP.  STONE SOUP is a story about three soldiers who come into a small village. They are tired and hungry, but have no food (just a big pot).  The villagers are unwilling to feed them so the soldiers have to become resourceful.  They build a fire, fill their pot with water, set it over the fire to boil and then plop in a big stone!  What happens next?  You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Back to today … it’s winter, it’s cold and it’s time to make the soup!  I’ll make a few in the next couple of weeks, but today I’m starting with one of my Dad’s favorites, an old fashioned Split Pea and Ham.  This is one of the heartiest and most economical soups I know … STONE SOUP perhaps?

For me, making soup always takes two days.  One day to prepare the stock, the second day to finish the soup and enjoy.  Of course, you don’t have to make your own stock.  Pre-made stocks have come along way and are very good.

2 to 3 lbs. ham hocks (I like smoked)
2 large onions
2 large carrots
2 large stocks celery
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1 lb. dried split peas

Have a large, heavy stock poOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAt ready. Into it, put the ham hocks.  Then rough cut the onions, carrots and celery and add them.

Cover everything with water (about 8 cups).  Add the bay leaves and season to taste.  Don’t be too generous with the seasoning.  You can always adjust later.

Bring all this to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer, cover tightly and leave it alone for about 4 hours.

At this point you can rehydrate the dried peas – by placing them in a large bowl and covering them completely with cold water for 4 to 6 hours – while the stock is cooking, or you can leave it for later.

Peek if you want to, but soup does its best work when left alone.

After about 4 hours the vegetables should have just about disintegrated and the meat should have completely fallen off the bone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow it’s time to strain the stock. Get a large pot and place a colander in it. Pour the stock into the colander to strain out all the bones and bits.

Let everything cool down and then pick through the bits in the colander, discarding the bone, skin and whatever you don’t want.  Be sure to remove the bay leaves.

At this point, I put  everything i n the frig til the next day.

If you haven’t rehydrated the peas yet, now’s the time to rinse them, discarding any you don’t like the looks of.

Place the peas in a bowl and cover them completely with cold water.
Cover the bowl and let the peas sit for at least 4 to 6 hours, or  overnight.

After the stock is completely cool, it should have a nice fat cap on the surface, which can easily be skimmed off.

Drain the peas and toss them into the pot.  Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover and let cook for about an hour (or more).  

A good stir or two will let you know if the peas have been reduced to a nice thick consistency.  Taste to adjust the seasoning and serve.







Serve with crusty bread and a tossed green salad.  Hearty, flavorful and absolutely delicious! The perfect lunch or dinner for everyone this winter!!