The following was originally published in the 2020 Mayday Magnificence Edition of The Writer’s Grapevine a monthly news and literary magazine found at: https://groups.io/g/writersGV and at: https://pattysworlds.com/writers-grapevine/
Jo and I hope you enjoy this yummy offering.
If you do, please be sure to let us know.
Pot Pie Makeovers
By: Jo Elizabeth Pinto
Website: http://www.brightsideauthor.com/ .
Like a lot of people, I’ve been trying to stretch nickels into dimes lately because of the Coronavirus pandemic and its resulting cutbacks. That means creativity in the kitchen. I’ve been cooking from scratch, focusing on presenting inexpensive staple foods in different ways so my family doesn’t feel like they’re eating the same boring meals over and over, which they essentially are. The endless variety of possibilities for pot pie makeovers is a good illustration of how kitchen creativity works.
I served a pot pie for dinner last night, which is what prompted me to write this all down. It happened to be a chicken pot pie in a cheese cracker crumb crust.
For the Crust:
4 or 5 handfuls of cheese crackers (Goldfish®, Cheez-It®, etc)
1-2 cup butter or margarine, melted
For the Filling"
1/3 cup bacon grease or vegetable shortening
1/3 to 1/2 cup flour
1 small can chicken broth or about 3/4 cup water flavored with bouillon crystals
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 or 2 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded, (or 1 can chicken breast meat, drained)
2 or 3 small potatoes, cooked and diced (leftover baked, boiled, steamed in microwave, etc)
handful of baby carrots, steamed just till crisp and sliced
1 or 2 celery stalks, chopped and steamed or sauteed just till crisp
handful of French fried onions to garnish top of pie (optional
To Make the Crust:
1. Place the crackers in a Ziploc bag. Lay the sealed bag flat on a table and crush the crackers into coarse crumbs with a rolling pin or a cup rolled over them, turning the bag as necessary. (Ritz® or Saltine® crackers or corn chips can be used for different flavors as well.)
2. Combine cracker crumbs with melted butter or margarine in a 10-inch pie plate. Press the crumbs evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the plate.
3. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool.
4. This is a rich, buttery crust. I’ve also used regular pie crust; Pilsbury® is my friend. I’ve poured the filling into a pan and baked refrigerator biscuits over the top–also Pilsbury®–or spread my own cornbread batter over. I’ve served the filling on top of noodles or rice. I’ve made a "pie shell" of mashed potatoes and topped the filling with more potatoes and cheese for a sort of imitation shepherd’s pie. The only limit is your imagination.
To Make the Filling
4. Heat the grease in a skillet over medium-low. Turn the temperature to medium and stir in the flour till the mixture is combined.
5. Add the chicken broth and stir constantly till the gravy thickens. This will take a few minutes. Now isn’t the time to walk away; you don’t want lumpy gravy.
6. When the gravy is thick and smooth, add the chicken, potatoes, carrots, and celery.
7. Again, here’s where creativity comes in. This time I made the gravy from scratch, but I’ve opened many a jar in my day. You can use cream of anything soup and add bouillon crystals, shredded cheese, hot sauce, or almost any seasoning you can think of to change up the flavor. Add salsa and sour cream and you’ve got Mexican pot pie! I’ve used shredded Thanksgiving turkey, cooked ground beef and cut-up pork chops, crumbled bacon, leftover beef or pork roast, and even canned tuna as the protein source. If you don’t have potatoes, substitute rice, pasta, or cooked barley to the filling instead. And as far as veggies go, the door is wide open. Cut green beans, diced canned beets, frozen or canned peas or corn, steamed chopped zucchini or yellow squash, tender broccoli and asparagus–they’ve all gone into pot pies at my house.
8. Level the filling with the back of a spoon. Garnish the pie with French-fried onions. (Or shredded cheese, seasoned bread crumbs, sliced hard-boiled egg, etc.)
9. Bake the pie for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Slice and enjoy!
With all of the different flavor combinations of pot pie you can make, I hope finding some household favorites will be easy. And I hope this inspires you all to add variety to your dinner menu without breaking the bank. 🙂
About the Author
Jo Elizabeth Pinto was among the first blind students to integrate the public schools in the 1970’s. In 1992, she received a degree in Human Services from the University of Northern Colorado. While teaching students how to use adaptive technology, she earned a second degree in 2004 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Nonprofit Management. She freelances as an editor and a braille proofreader.
As an author, Pinto entertains her readers while giving them food for thought. In her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, she draws on personal experience to illustrate that hope is always an action away.
Pinto lives in Colorado with her husband, her preteen daughter, and their pets.