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The Lesson of Chicken Pot Pie

The Lesson of Chicken Pot Pie

The Lesson of Chicken Pot Pie

By Veda Boyd Jones

Recently in Kansas City, I ordered chicken pot pie for lunch. My husband and I were visiting our son and daughter-in-law and had walked in their neighborhood to a small bistro owned by an Iron Chef contestant.

Now chicken pot pie is one of my favorite meals. What’s not to like? Per my definition, it’s sort of healthy with the traditional carrots and peas and potatoes along with the chicken inside a flaky crust. And it’s absolutely yummy in the comfort food sort of way.

I’ve ordered it many times in restaurants, and it’s always made differently. The KC variety had a small amount of rich creamy gravy, big chunks of tender chicken, ultra slim green beans, julienned baby carrots a good inch long, and potato bites. On top was a rectangle of puff pastry. I ate every bite.

A few winters ago, I ordered my favorite in Maine, and it was a savory dish with a dash of sage in the gravy. It was served in an oven-safe bowl with a flat biscuit square atop the filling, and on top of that was a dollop of cranberry sauce. It was Thanksgiving in a bowl. I’ve since made a similar variety and decided I’ll always add poultry seasoning and sage to the filling.

I once had this dish in Connecticut with an entire top and bottom crust made of filo dough. There were layers and layers of crunch along with the smooth and chunky chicken/vegetable filling.

I made it that way for a while, too. I’ve made it with my traditional Ozark pie crust on the bottom and the top. I revised that method to bake the crust separately on a cookie sheet, so it wouldn’t be soggy. I’ve served chicken pot pie with no bottom crust and biscuits on top. I’ve also baked the biscuits separately so they would add the right crunch.

No matter what type, every time I’ve eaten the whole thing. Every time I’ve thought how delicious it was, how it deserved to be called chicken pot pie, and yet how different it was from what I previously thought of my favorite meal. 

Each one was different, and yet they were the same.

I’m not pleased to admit that there was a time in my life when I thought there was one way and one way only to make chicken pot pie. Or for that matter, to do anything else, like to get from this place to that. I could drive the back way, the interstate, or the county highway. One way may be more scenic or one faster or one longer, but they all would get me to my destination.

There is not just one way of baking something, going somewhere, or a number of other things in life.

I wish I’d widened my view a little earlier. Maybe that’s one gift of growing older. Or maybe the lesson was always around me and I didn’t see it, even in the way to make chicken pot pie.  

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