This summer, I’m going to be posting a series of fifteen low-cost, tasty, and easy-to-prepare meals that are literally straight from my own kitchen.
One of the fun things about the end of summer and the start of fall is that, if you have a garden, lots of vegetables are starting to come in. Depending on your garden, you can be producing all kinds of things: tomatoes, sweet corn, peas, green beans – the list is nearly endless.
Thus, in the late summer and fall, we tend to cook dishes that have really flexible vegetable requirements, like last week’s ratatouille. Meals that work with lots of different vegetables are highly prized, and my wife’s flexible chicken pie is one of those recipes.
This year, our garden isn’t doing particularly well (the arrival of our baby right in the middle of planting season did a number on our plans, and the garden flooding in early August wiped out some of the things we’d planted), so the vegetables we’re using below are a mix of fresh ones and some flash-frozen ones.
The basic idea of a chicken pie is basically a pie crust with thickened chicken broth and chicken as a filling, plus whatever vegetables you have on hand. Most vegetables work – in the example below, we used carrots, potatoes, green beans, and corn. You can put pretty much anything in it, from tomatoes to chickpeas.
You can use a pre-made pie crust if you wish, or you can make one yourself – it’s entirely up to you. The same is true with the chicken broth – you can make it yourself or you can buy some broth or stock at the store.
The process is pretty simple.
First, chop any and all vegetables you’re going to use in this meal. I recommend about four cups of total vegetables. Also, chop up the chicken you wish to use – I suggest about a pound and a half of chicken.
Take three cups of chicken broth, then boil any starchy vegetables you’re going to use in it – like potatoes, for example. Then boil (or microwave, if frozen) the remaining vegetables so that they’re warm and partially to mostly cooked.
Cook the chicken pieces in a skillet until browned, then remove the chicken and pour the hot broth into the skillet to catch the wonderful caramelization on the bottom of the pan.
Next, add a pinch of corn starch to the broth and stir it for fifteen seconds or so. Repeat this process until the broth is as thick as you would like – I like it very thick, while my wife likes it soup-thin, so we compromise in the middle.
After that, mix the chicken, vegetables, and broth together, then add all of it to the pie crust, which you’ve already spread out in a pie dish, like so.
Put the other pie crust on top and roll the edges of the two crusts together. Press the tines of a fork all around the crust to hold the two crusts together.
Now that the pie is constructed, preheat the oven to 375 F (about 190 C) and bake the pie for 45 minutes. Delicious!
(We also had a side salad with this, hence the open space on the plate.)
The cost of this meal is very hard to pin down because it depends heavily on what vegetables you have on hand, whether you make your own crust, and whether you make your own stock/broth. Our total cost for the pie was about $8, which averaged out to $1 a meal for the pie. Given the heartiness of it, that’s a pretty good deal.