A few weeks ago my husband Harris mentioned that he’d like some “Mrs Swenson’s” chicken pot pie. Obviously it had been a long while since he’d bought one as the brand names were running together. Between the two of us, we’ve rarely run out of ideas for supper and always have good ingredients to play with. But it’s hard to say good-bye to nostalgic favorites, even if the nutrition is suspect. Though once you’ve tried this easy, homemade version, you’ll throw rocks at those sad little tins. When it comes down to it, this week’s recipe is the one you and your clan want: tender chunks of chicken, brightly flavored vegetables, a gravy so good that a spoon is needed to get every drop, and a delicious and satisfying crust.
So here’s what you secretly or not-so-secretly crave. Every step is easy. You can prepare it on a weeknight. The leftovers are fantastic—heat it up at work, and you’ll be the envy of your co-workers. The main points to remember are these:
- Cook the chicken as directed, on a foil-covered baking sheet. The meat will be perfectly cooked, flavorful and tender.
- Save the pan juices and drippings to add to the sauce.
- Use homemade chicken broth.
- Cook the vegetables in the broth prior to making the gravy.
You can save some time by simply topping the filling with the mashed potatoes without making and sautéing patties. Or go old school and put the filling in a small pie pan, cover with mashed potatoes and run it under the broiler until the top is golden brown.
Paleo version. Use a blend of water and tapioca starch or arrowroot powder for thickening instead of the rice flour roux. (Add the mixture by the tablespoon and wait until the gravy reaches a simmer. Adding the full amount all at once can result in a too-thick sauce.) Substitute coconut cream for heavy cream in the gravy. Make the topping from sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.
Since pot pie is a vintage entrée, to go with it, I’ve got a lovely version of Waldorf Salad. The crisp, crunchy textures and hint of sweetness complement the chicken deliciously. And who can resist spiced pecans? The hint of maple syrup and touch of cayenne wake up the salad and bring it to a new level. Mayonnaise is the one condiment that so far has been a problem for real food, paleo peeps. Virtually all commercial mayos contain soybean or canola oils. No thanks. Making your own mayonnaise is an option, but sometimes I don’t want to be bothered. The dressing in this recipe uses heavy cream, and it’s a revelation. You could also use coconut cream. Be sure to use cider vinegar and maple syrup though. The subtle flavors enhance the apples and pecans.
For music, I’ve chosen some throwback TV themes to go with this TV dinner fave. Have fun with the menu and playlist. Hug your nearest and dearest, and here’s to a wonderful fall!