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Woop Woop! Pot Pie Emergency


Chad
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I finally picked up a copy of "How to Read a French Fry" yesterday -- at Borders' usurious prices; dear God, man, how do you sleep at night? :raz:

The book will now have a place of honor on my shelf next to the books that I actually use rather than just salivate over. McGee, Corriher, Wolke, Alton Brown and now Parsons. Nice job.

What really hooked me was the section on pie crusts. I've gotten myself into a bit of a dilemma. My wife wants chicken pot pie. Fine, I can do that. She suggested I buy a pie crust. I was insulted. I was outraged. My manly ego reared up to the full height of its fire-wielding, meat-searing glory and yawped, "Storebought piecrust? I'll make my own damn pie crust, thank you very much."

This despite the fact that I've never made a pie crust in my life.

Ah, but I have books. I have the Internet. I have Russ Parsons captive on eGullet! Bwahahahaha!

Anyway, I'm thinking short crust rather than flaky, mainly because the filling is going to be a bit goopy and I don't want my pie to have the texture of a third-grader's paper mache project. I'm thinking blind baking beforehand. Maybe a puff pastry top.

I've armed myself with a new deep dish pie tin, roasted a chicken and have everything ready to go. I bought lard because I remember that's what my grandmother used. I also bought a Marie Callender's frozen pie crust -- just in case. I've hidden it in the freezer behind the year-old tub of Blue Bunny ice cream that everyone hates and covered it with a bag of Tater Tots. I have a detailed cover story about Thanksgiving pecan pie in case it is discovered. So I'm set. I think.

My questions:

  • Am I right about the short crust versus flaky?
  • You mention that commercially rendered lard doesn't taste good. Should I just use butter or shortening instead?
  • Any hints on thickening the filling so that it doesn't ooze out onto the plate like The Blob going after Steve McQueen?

Thanks for any advice you might offer.

Chad

edit: solecism

Edited by Chad (log)

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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I rather prefer my pot pie crust flaky. Anything else just seems to heavy/chalky/pasty. In any event, you definitley need a flaky top!

My mom tried putting some pre-made crescent roll dough on top of her pot pies once, it was pretty good.

Sherri A. Jackson
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There are as many styles of pot pies as there are cooks. Personally, I prefer a flaky top crust and no bottom crust. And I like a stewed chicken rather than roast (that way you've got the broth to make the sauce). If you want a bottom crust, you could do a shortcrust, but I wouldn't sweat it too much. At a certain point you have to balance the amount of time required vs. the reward and I don't think using a bottom flaky crust is going to do enough damage to make it worth your effort to do two separate doughs (the problem with making something a big project is that when you're done you're very likely to say: "well, now I know why i've never done that before!"). I would definitely use shortening or butter rather than lard, unless you can find some leaf fat and render it yourself (see above). And I'd thicken it with flour so the sauce will be stable enough to last through the baking process (cornstarch goes gluey when it's heated too long).

If you want to get fancy, check out the Zuni Cafe book. Judy Rogers has a quick puff pastry that is really easy to make and would be a great topping.

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Puff-pastry topping, yes, glazed with egg and milk. Or a simple tea-biscuit topping, also glazed.

Bottom crust only if you're making small, single-serving pies.

I prefer corn-starch - I like its translucent quality...

Now, fillings: peas and carrots, of course, but what else? Potatoes? Pearl onions? Mushrooms? Leeks? Parsnips?

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