Several years ago I wrote a column about a local delicacy we call chicken stew. It is chicken stew season here in Yadkin County, a very favorite time of year for me.
I have a good friend who usually hosts a big chicken stew for his birthday. For about the last two months, I’ve been asking my husband, “Is it Brian’s birthday yet?” because I’m ready for some good hot chicken stew on a cool fall evening. My husband, however, is not a fan of this local tradition. He says it’s just hot milk with chicken in it. Well, that’s fine, more stew for me!
Some friends and I were recently discussing another dish involving chicken — chicken pie. Following some very unscientific and informal research on Facebook, I have concluded chicken pie is another of those regional dishes. I grew up eating only chicken pie, a dish consisting of pie crust and chicken, no vegetables. This incarnation of chicken pie seems strange to my friends who hail from north of the Mason-Dixon line.
“I have only heard of chicken pot pie,” said my husband’s cousin, Carrie, who was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
To throw another twist into the chicken pie discussion, when I worked at The Piedmont Club in Winston-Salem they would often serve a dish they called Moravian chicken pie.
“I thought a Moravian chicken pie was differentiated from a secular chicken pie by a puff pastry crust. Now I’m wondering if only the fancier Moravians use puff pastry,” said my friend Bill Colvard at The Mount Airy News.
My friend Donna explained, “Moravian chicken pie and chicken pie are the same thing, just chicken, crust on top and bottom. Chicken pot pie includes the veggies. Period. End of discussion. Both have a place, but they are NOT to be confused.”
I was an adult before I ever actually had chicken pot pie rather that its vegetable-free cousin chicken pie. I hope my Yadkin County card doesn’t get revoked for saying this, but I actually prefer the pot pie version of this dish. Food Network star The Pioneer Woman has a recipe I like a lot. Next week another bird will be the star of the show — turkey. Pot pie can also be made using your left over turkey.
The Pioneer Woman’s Pot Pie (Recipe from www.thepioneerwoman.com)
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 1/2 cup finely diced onion
• 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
• 1/2 cup finely diced celery
• 3 cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey
• 1/4 cup flour
• 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed
• splash of white wine (optional)
• 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
•salt and pepper, to taste
• chopped fresh thyme to taste
• 1/4 cup half-and-half or cream
• 1 whole unbaked pie crust
• 1 whole egg
• 2 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat, then add the onion, carrots, and celery. Stir them around until the onions start to turn translucent, about three minutes. Stir in the chicken or turkey and then sprinkle the flour over the top and stir it until it’s all combined with the turkey and vegetables. Cook for one minute, then pour in the chicken broth (and wine if using) and stir it around and let it cook and thicken.
Once it starts to thicken add the turmeric, salt, pepper, and thyme. Add the half-and-half or cream, then stir the mixture and let it bubble up and thicken, about three minutes. If it seems overly thick, splash in a little more broth. Turn off the heat. Pour the filling into a 2-quart baking dish.
Roll out the pie crust on a floured surface and lay it over the top of the dish. Press the dough so that the edges stick to the outside of the pan. Use a knife to cut little vents here and there in the surface of the dough. Mix together the egg with 2 tablespoons water and brush it all over the surface of the crust. (You will have some egg wash left over.)
Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is deep golden brown and the filling is bubbly. To prevent the crust from getting too brown, you might want to cover it lightly with foil for the first 15 minutes of baking time.
Kitsey Burns Harrison is a reporter for The Yadkin Ripple. Here she shares her musings on life, love, food and being a new mom. She can be reached on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.