With snow on the hills, it was time for some good old-fashioned, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. When it’s cold and rainy outside, there’s plenty of time for a fire and cooking inside.
The snow at my house this weekend
I hadn’t made this recipe for quite some time, crust and all, so I dug in my heels and got down to it. Our great-grandmother, Ida Jessen Holm, used to feed her large family along with the farm and ranch hands, neighbors, and the occasional hobo who hopped off the Southern Pacific Railroad running along Stanley Boulevard, just north of their farm in Livermore. One of her supper menus included a chicken pie she baked in a huge milk pan, using whole chicken pieces. I’m just cooking for two, and leftovers for my dad who loves chicken pie, so this is the more diminutive, urban version (even though I live in the country)!
Leslie, Gladys, Dick (our grandfather), and Ida Jessen Holm on a buckboard
with Dora Jessen Rasmussen in the background, Circa 1905
Urban Chicken Pie
– Serves 8
- Flaky pastry
- 1 1/4 cups unsifted flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons shortening
- 1 egg, separated, white reserved
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 (5 to 6 pound) whole chicken, boiled
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 3 tablespoons flour
- Dash of white pepper
- Dash of grated nutmeg
- 11/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc
- 3 medium cooked carrots, sliced (cooked in the pot with the chicken)
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk and cold water; add to the flour mixture and stir with a fork until the pastry begins to hold together. You may need to add a bit more water. Shape the dough into a smooth ball, wrap well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the bones and skin. Tear the meat into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, and mushrooms and cook until soft. Stir in the flour, pepper, and nutmeg. Continue to cook until the sauce is bubbly. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the chicken broth and wine. Return to the heat and cook, stirring continuously, until the sauce thickens. Add the chicken, carrots, and peas, and stir. Season with salt to taste. Spread evenly in a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan.
Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and roll out on a floured board into a 12-inch circle. Place the pastry over the chicken mixture, and trim and flute the edge. Cut slits in the top for steam to escape. (At this point, the pie can be refrigerated and baked several hours later or the next day.)
In a small bowl, beat together the reserved egg white and1 teaspoon water. Brush the crust with the egg mixture. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before cutting. Serves 8
The Urban Chicken Pie baked and ready to eat
“Them that works hard EATS HEARTY!”