Savory Pot Pies: One Of America's Original ‘Comfort Foods'

IN THE KITCHEN

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Today, the word pie most often evokes thoughts of a sweet dessert, with a fruit, cream or custard filling. But the first pies were very simple and generally of the savory (meat and cheese) kind. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the first use of the word "pie" as it relates to food to 1303, noting the word was commonly used by 1362.

Savory pies evolved over centuries, throughout Europe. There was the shepherd's pie, and the pork pie, and the mutton pie (lamb). Some contend meat pies originated farther back, in Arab or Mediterranean cultures, and cite the meat pies of Lebanon or Greece. What's certain is that the meat pie was a staple in British fare by the time the colonies were being settled in America. German-Americans in Pennsylvania created the Pennsylvania Dutch Pot Pie, with homemade noodles, which is still a popular regional dish.

The term potpie, which first appeared in American print in 1785, could refer to the deep pie pans or pots used to bake pies in, and the term potpie has remained primarily an Americanism. The most popular potpies have been chicken and beef. It was in 1951 when the first mass-marketed frozen chicken potpie was sold by the C. A. Swanson Company.

Whatever its roots, the American pot pie became a classic, in part because of practicality -- the ability to stretch even the most meager settlers' provisions into a sustaining meal. It, therefore, became one of the original American comfort foods. Today, the homemade potpie is still a hero of practicality. But today, it's not provisions that are in short supply; rather, it's time.

Fleischmann's Yeast and Argo Corn Starch offers a recipe for Hearty Homemade Chicken Pot Pie. It's a recipe for a complete meal, and a healthful balance of nourishing carbohydrates and proteins.

Hearty Homemade Chicken Pot Pie is a delicious "chicken stew" -- firm, juicy chunks of meat and a colorful medley of diced fresh or frozen vegetables (corn, carrots, peas, lima and green beans and onion) in a creamy gravy-sauce, under six tender, golden yeast-risen butter-washed angel biscuits.

The secret to the velvety chicken-stock gravy-sauce is corn starch. Corn starch produces a superior fresh taste and texture to the shortcut offered by canned condensed soups.

The Hearty Homemade Chicken Pot Pie recipe has all the perks of a classic scratch recipe: the inviting aromas of cooked onions and chicken, and of fresh bread; the total control the home-cook has over the ingredients, including sodium and fats; and the avoidance of preservatives. Scratch cooking is often more economical, especially in recipes with larger yields, like this one. Best of all, scratch cooking is an excellent way to express both personal creativity and one's love for family and friends. In this scratch recipe, the prep time and proof time overlap, thereby reducing the start-to-finish time.

Serve Hearty Homemade Chicken Pot Pie with a glass of icy cold milk, or a cup of steaming hot coffee or tea. And serve with a fork AND a spoon. Your eager eaters will start with their forks, for chunks of chicken and biscuit, but the bottom-of-the-bowl clanking you'll hear will be the spoon, as they go for every possible drop of the rich, silky gravy-sauce.

Hearty Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

Makes six servings. Prep Time: 60 minutes; Proof Time: 30 minutes; Bake Time: 15 to 20 minutes; Cook Time: 10 minutes.

Angel Biscuits

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 package Fleischmann's RapidRise Yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup buttermilk

Filling

3 tablespoons butter, divided

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 medium onion, diced

1, 16-ounce package frozen mixed vegetables

1 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup milk

3 tablespoons Argo or Kingsford's Corn Starch

To make Biscuits:

Combine flour, yeast, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbles; set aside.

Combine the water and buttermilk; heat to 120 to 130 degrees. Add to the flour mixture; blend well.

Place dough on floured surface. Knead 10 to 15 times; form into ball. Roll dough to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into 6 round pieces and place on ungreased baking sheet. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Make filling while dough is rising.

To make Filling:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add chicken and onion; stirring, cook 5 minutes until onion is translucent and chicken is done. Stir in vegetables, broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil.

Blend milk and corn starch; stir into chicken mixture. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil and boil 1 minute.

Spoon chicken mixture into a 2-quart casserole. Top with risen biscuit dough; drizzle with remaining butter, melted.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until filling is bubbly and biscuits are lightly browned.

Nutrition information per serving: serving size is 1/6th of recipe or 11.7 ounces; 590 calories; total fat: 26 g; saturated fat: 8 g; cholesterol: 55 mg; sodium: 950 mg; carbohydrates: 64 g; dietary fiber: 4 g; sugars: 13 g; protein: 24 g

Fleischmann's Yeast was founded in 1868. Today, Fleischmann's Yeast enjoys the leading market share in the yeast category in U.S. supermarkets. Fleischmann's Yeast sells Fresh Active Yeast, Active Dry Yeast, RapidRise Yeast, Bread Machine Yeast, and a line of Bread Machine Mixes. Fleischmann's Yeast's Web site, www.breadworld.com, offers baking tips and more than 600 recipes, most with full-color professional photographs. Fleischmann's Yeast is a member of the ACH Food Companies, Inc. family of grocery products.

Argo Corn Starch was founded in 1892. Its sister-brand, Kingsford's Corn Starch, which is sold primarily in California and Utah, was founded in 1846. The Web site for Argo and Kingsford's, www.argostarch.com, offers baking and cooking tips and hundreds of recipes, many with full-color professional photographs. Argo and Kingsford's are members of the ACH Food Companies, Inc. family of grocery products.

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