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May 27, 2024

Re-inventing the Wheel: Bernie's Pot Pie

By Bernie Pilarski

As much as I would like to think of myself as a semi-sophisticated free-thinking cosmopolite, I will have to admit I was formed by my times: I liked frozen TV dinners. There was something so ultramodern about being able to take a piece of frozen metal from the freezer, pop it in the oven, and thirty minutes later, peel back the aluminum foil to reveal an entire turkey dinner! It was the perfect accompaniment to an episode of Lost In Space. I can imagine that robot B9 must have had a port to allow for the insertion and rapid heating of a TV dinner.

Bear in mind that even back then I was well aware that the actual food contained in TV dinners was not particularly good. For really good food, you had to move on up to the Banquet brand frozen chicken or turkey pot pie. Mmmm. Such a delicacy for less than a quarter (ten for a dollar if you caught the sale).

Like many others things from my youth, I assumed that you had to have a big factory to turn out stuff like pot pies. Dad worked in a factory, factories made things, therefore things you bought in stores were made in factories. I really was surprised to learn that there were things that grew on trees. There was a similar kind of logic in my head that said that if Mom did not make it at home, it could only be made in an industrialized setting. Doughnuts, for example. Mom did not make them because they could only be made in special industrial complexes called bakeries. Unfortunately, the pot pies you used to be able to get for a quarter are now closer to a dollar and are mostly carrots and thin gravy. There are some better ones out there, but I'm not willing to spend the two to three bucks it costs to get a good pot pie, because money still does not grow on trees.

It dawned on me recently that perhaps it was possible for me to make my own pot pie. I know, some of you knew this was possible all along, but I put it to you: the wheel has been around for thousands and thousands of years, but have you made one recently? Of course not. When you need a wheel, you go buy one, quod erat demonstrandum there is no compelling reason to learn to make pot pies. But retirement is a time to indulge your inner explorer, so this past week I set about to make a really good but super-easy pot pie.

Here's what I used:

  • 2 cups cooked, cubed potato (that's about two raw potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced and sauteed
  • 1 12 oz. can of chicken
  • 1 package 9" store bought pie crusts (2 sheets per package)
  • 3 5" foil pot pie pans

Use the foil pans to measure out the top crust for your three pies, then use the rest of the dough to line the pans with a bottom crust.

Cook the potatoes, but leave them a little al dente to give them an opportunity to finish in the oven. Sautee the onions. Combine chicken and vegetables in a bowl and toss gently. There's no need to thaw the frozen veggies.

For the gravy, you need the following:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tsp. chicken base (I used 'Better than Bouillon' brand)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch

Combine ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Boil one minute.

When your gravy is ready, place 1/2 cup of gravy in each of the prepared pie pans.

Add one third of the chicken/veggie mix to each pan. Add additional gravy if you think you need to.

Place top crust on the pie. Crimp the edges to seal the pie. Cut several slits into the top crusts to allow the steam to vent.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until crust is nicely brown.

Danger! Danger, Will Robinson! These pies will cause your eyeballs to roll up and get stuck in your head!

Article © Bernie Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-01-16
3 Reader Comments
03:41:31 PM
The pot pies were good. The social commentary was even better. Also: the weblink was priceless.
11:19:45 PM
Nice piece and thanks for the recipie although I am going to make my own crust (my wife got me a marble rolling pin and pastry cutter for Xmas!).
12:49:38 AM
They really were good, even though I've never been as big a fan as Bernie of pot pies. I will note that his ability to see a connection between "Lost in Space" and chicken pot pies is, at least in part, what has kept me captivated by him for more than 37 years.
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