Classic Chicken Pot Pie, Reconsidered

When I was younger, a popular grab-and-go dinner from the grocery store was a chicken pot pie, its size a little too generous for an elementary school student. I’d pop it in the microwave, which probably did no favors to the puff pastry crust, but ten-year-old me savored it all the same.

After finding out about my allergies, I can only remember my mom and I attempting to make a chicken pot pie once – that was in March last year. (Remember, back when “zoom” was just a cute word kids would say when they ran really fast?) It wasn’t easy, and it turned out to be a bowl food rather than a plate food, but it was delicious.

We double-crusted the first one, which we didn’t with the 2021 model.

So, we decided to try our hand at it again a couple days ago. Except we weren’t sure which recipe we had used, so we followed one that we’d printed out some indeterminate time before. That happened to be Nurture Your Gut’s Chicken Pot Pie. I made the filling, and my mom made the crust, because pie dough has kicked me in the shins and stolen my wallet before, and I’m not eager to go back for seconds.

We had most of a sweet potato hanging around, which I used to replace a white potato; we didn’t have the exact frozen veggies the recipe called for, so in went some frozen broccoli and cauliflower. I took out the jar of onion powder and put it on the counter early in the prep stage, and then didn’t know where it was when it came time to use it – that’s what I get for trying to be organized. The recipe called for homemade cashew cream made out of 1 ½ cups water and 2/3 cup cashews, but I substituted that for 1 cup of coconut cream. (That turned out to be the perfect amount despite the fact that it wasn’t an equal substitution. It felt good, to know that my instincts could be trusted.)

I appreciated the process – the chopping, the stirring, the sensation of surety – but the whole time, I kept thinking about what I would do if I wasn’t trying to make it the classic American comfort food. There was already coconut cream in it, so why not lean into that? A Thai red curry pot pie – why the heck not? I tamped down the desire, but I couldn’t resist adding a few sprinkles of red chile powder.

That brown stuff on the edges? An completely unadulterated pleasure to eat.

The pie was good. I enjoyed it. It’s a struggle to bring creaminess to dairy-free dishes, but the coconut milk and four tablespoons of arrowroot powder worked absolute wonders, which made me happy. But in the end, the pie didn’t bring the enthusiasm I usually find in myself when I’m cooking.

One thing about being a teenager is that you’re developing so rapidly, you look back on the person you were just six months or a year ago, and you think, “who was that?” Or at least that’s how it’s been for me. I think classic chicken pot pie no longer reflects the food almost-sixteen-year-old me wants to cook, nor does it offer the same familiar comfort to the person I am at the moment. And that’s okay. It’s also perfectly possible that classic chicken pot pie will become a comfort food for me again, at a different juncture of my life, and that’s equally okay.

I’ve been having all kinds of revelations lately. ‘Quay’ is pronounced ‘key.’ The colon is the same thing as the large intestine. And the food you want to eat at a given point in time can say a lot about what else you want at that time, too.

Quote of the Day

“Something dawns over her face, and for a moment, I needn’t be there – it is merely her and her epiphany.” – Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

Related Things

Sohla El-Waylly’s Kolar Pitha – her description of the recipe describes a feeling similar to what I’m trying to get at in my last paragraph.

Nurture Your Gut’s Chicken Pot Pie

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