If I can keep my kids guessing, there’s a chance a veggie or two might make its way into their bellies. So sometimes when they ask: “Mom, what’s for dinner?” I simply answer “Pie!” It definitely works until they notice the bread instead of ice cream a la mode. But even if they pick their way through the veggies and eat only the chicken and potatoes (not a veggie in my kids’ eyes), they are also unknowingly eating onions in the gravy so I’m at least assured scurvy will be held at bay.
I adore this recipe because it is particularly versatile and can accommodate whatever the kitchen garden or farmer’s market has fresh, even if it’s but a handful of each ingredient. This time of year we are eating our pie with spinach or chard, carrots and potatoes and sometimes radish for extra spice. Later in the harvest we’ll enjoy it with corn, peas, and green or lima beans. Our pie often contains chicken, usually in the form of leftovers, but black beans or any of the zillion varieties of bush beans out there would also work well.
Also note that this doesn’t have to be a pie. The gravy works well as a stand alone with chicken and biscuits, or make the entire innards and serve over biscuits. And if a pie, it’s definitely a loose definition. Add a bottom crust or not, shape it in an 8X8 pan or pie pan — doesn’t matter.
I do not currently make my own pie crust. My mother-in-law has a delicious recipe given to her by a wonderful woman in Vermont. She is perfectly willing to share this recipe with me, but there is something holding me back, as if I have not yet attained the level of wisdom the Universe deems necessary for the revealing of the great pie crust mystery.
Given all of these variables, simply remember that the goal is to assemble enough veggie and meat ingredients in small, bite size pieces to fill your baking container or cover your biscuits. The below amounts will make enough for an 8X8 square pan or a 8″ deep-pie crust/pan, but remember, other than in the gravy, exact measurement doesn’t matter too much in this recipe. Whatever you’ve got, throw it in — it’s all good.
1. Prepare the meat and/or beans. If using raw chicken, clean and cube 2 chicken breasts. If using leftover cooked chicken, cut what you’ve got into bite size pieces. If using raw dried beans, such as black beans, cook them until tender as per your normal method. Leftover cooked beans can also be used.
2. Prepare the raw vegetables.
1 cup carrots, sliced in rounds (substitute or also include corn, peas, green beans or lima beans)
2 cups white, yellow or red potatoes, peeled (or not) and cubed
1/2 cup celery, chopped (or substitute lovage or leave out entirely if you don’t have it)
1/3 cup onion, chopped
3 cups raw chard or spinach, washed, excess water removed and chopped in strips
3. In a medium pot, cover the raw chicken, carrots, potatoes and celery with water and bring to a boil, boiling for fifteen minutes. Adjust the boil time as needed for the ingredients. Absent the raw chicken, simply cook the veggies until they are soft or slightly al dente. Drain the water, cover the pot and set aside.
4. In a small pan or pot, heat 1 Tablespoon of butter or olive oil over medium heat. Cook the spinach or chard until wilted and set aside.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 425°.
6. Prepare the gravy. In a sauce pan over medium-heat melt 1/3 cup butter (or olive oil, but flavor won’t be as rich). Cook the onions in the butter until they start to soften. Then add 1/3 cup flour, stirring until a smooth roux is formed. Slowly add 1-3/4 cups chicken broth and 2/3 cup milk or half-and-half, stirring constantly until gravy is desired thickness. Season with a sprinkle of garlic powder, a handful of dried, crushed sage leaves, 1 Tablespoon dried parsley, 1 Teaspoon of white sugar, and salt and black pepper to taste.
7. Using a spoon, gently mix the gravy with the boiled veggies and/or meat, the spinach or chard and/or any leftovers. Pour the mixture into your lightly greased baking pan (or already cooked bottom pie crust). Cover with top pie crust (or if pouring over biscuits, with tinfoil). Bake for 35 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.
8. Allow pie to cool before serving with a big slab of hearty bread.
9. This pie also freezes well. Freeze prior to baking, first letting contents cool. Bake with or without defrosting, covering crust with tinfoil as needed to bake longer while preventing burning.
This recipe is offered in total rebellion as part of Recipe Rites.
© Jennifer S. and harvestliberty.net, 2012.