Father’s. We love them. And I seriously have the greatest. We could argue this one. But I would win. No doubt. I am thankful for a wonderful family that enjoys each other’s presence so much that we gather together not just on important occasions, but for also on days no specific reason. Like it’s the second Saturday of the month. And we are hungry. So let’s eat Mexican.
So in celebration of my Pops on Father’s Day, I decided to finally make a family favorite – my Grandma’s Crisscross pot pie . Nothing says family tradition like a handed-down recipe. The recipe was just included in a brand new cookbook, ‘Tidewater Table’ – check it out HERE.My mom’s sister is the author and I’d say her job as food & wine editor for The Virginia Pilot makes her qualified to know fine food when she tastes it. You can read her blog HERE. So there is sits. Grandma’s masterpiece. In a cookbook. Ready for you and me to try our hand.
In our family, food is a part of almost every tradition – old & new. Christmas Eve – family fondue night. Family reunion – fish fry, hushpuppies, and sweet tea. Sunday dinner at grandma’s as a kid – homemade pot pie. What’s a memory if food isn’t involved. I mean really.
I’m probably not the only 20-30 something that has never tried to make pastry from scratch. So bring on the Crisco and follow my step-by-step photo tutorial. I’ve adapted the original recipe for time/ease of use based on how I made it.
Crisscross Chicken Pot PieMakes 6 servings 3 pounds of chicken (I bought fresh chicken tenderloins – easier to cut bitesize after cooking) 3 cups of water (to cover chicken) 1 tsp salt 1 10-oz package of frozen peas, cooked & drained 2 TB pimentos (I left these out – but grandma ALWAYS put them in) 2 cups flour, sifted ½ cup shortening 2/3 cup milk Curry Cream Sauce (recipe below) Baking dish = 10x6x2
Simmer the chicken in a large pot. You could add celery, peppercorns, and salt in order to make your own chicken stock. Time is a premium in my life and there was chicken stock in the cabinet. So I skipped this step.
Once the chicken is done, tear or cut it into bite-sized pieces. This was the perfect job for my Pampered Chef “meat scissors”. Who knows what their real name is, but who cares? They made light work of this job. Add pimentos and cooked peas to the chicken.
(Ignore the Advil...I promise this won't be headache!)
Now - you can either make your pastry or your cream sauce, that is unless you have kitchen helpers. I ran around wishing for 2 more arms while trying to make both simultaneously. Don't try that at home. Long story short. Start the pastry when you put the chicken on and make the curry sauce last.
Sift the flour and 1 tsp of salt into a medium bowl. Add in the shortening using 2 forks. The dough gets “stringy” for lack of a better description. Basically, pull the forks in opposite directions at the same time in order to fold the shortening evenly into the dough. It’s pretty crumbly at this point.
Stir in the milk with a fork until the dough just holds together. Not all of the flour gets mixed in – don’t be scared.
Flour your hands and a large countertop and grab the crumbly dough and give it a few kneads. It will hold together and look like this.
This amount of dough is supposed to cover a 10x6 dish. I only had a larger 12 x8 casserole dish, so this wasn’t enough dough to cover the bottom and do the crisscrosses on the top. So I made a second batch of dough (aka why I wish I had 4 extra arms). If you use the smaller pan, use 2/3rds of the dough for the bottom. Save the remainder for the top. Whatever you choose to do, roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/8 - ¼ inch thick to cover the bottom and sides of your backing dish.
Spray your dish with Pam or coat with butter & carefully place the dough into the dish. Poke holes into your dough with a fork.
Now for the best part….
Curry Cream SauceMakes 4.5 cups 6 TB butter 6 TB flour 1 tsp sal 1 tsp curry powder 1/8 tsp black pepper 3 cups chicken broth 1 12- ounce can evaporated milk
Melt the butter on low in a saucepan. Mix in the flour, salt, curry powder, and pepper.
You have to stir fast – don't let it burn. Stir it constantly until it starts to bubble. Then add the chicken broth slowly - still stirring constantly until it thickens and starts to boil (it make take 1-5 minutes).
Stir in evaporated milk.
Add 2 cups of the sauce to your chicken/pea/pimento mixture. Mix well and pour to your baking dish.
Roll the rest of your dough (or second batch) into long strips. I chose not to weave them (I was running out of time!), but it looks much more elegant if you do!
Bake your final product at 400 degrees for 20 minutes then drop the temperature to 350 and bake for an extra 25 minutes. The top crust should be golden brown.
Most important – Put that extra sauce on the table. If you don’t pour that over the top of every morsel something is wrong with you.
My goal was to honor my grandma’s recipe and her memory and to prove to myself that I was capable to carry on her tradition. The empty dishes told me it was a success. Hallelujah!
Southern cooking – it does a body good. (I mean there’s milk in it – so that must be true!)
I’d love to see pictures of your version! Share your masterpiece – here’s to it becoming a tradition for you!