Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Chicken Pot Pie with Cornmeal Crust

Much better than those frozen pot pies of your childhood
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1 pound cooked chicken meat or 4 chicken thighs

2 medium (or 1 large) turnips

1 parsnip

8 ounces mushrooms

3 medium or 2 large carrots

2 large onion

1 pound potatoes

3-4 TBL olive oil

5 ounces frozen peas

1 cup milk

13/4 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon chicken base (or 1 cube chicken bouillon)

1/4 cup cornmeal (we prefer the granularity of Quaker brand corn meal)

1/2 cup shortening

1 egg

If you have some cooked meat and broth available, skip this step and continue with the mushrooms, below.

Place in saute pan

  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

placing

  • 4 chicken thighs on top of onion slices

add

  • 3 cups water

Bring to a boil, reducing heat to maintain a low, gentle simmer and cook ATTNcovered for 30 minutes. Remove chicken, reserving liquid, and let cool. Discard onion pieces. Strain liquid and measure: add water to bring amount to 3 cups. Discard chicken skin and bone the chicken meat, cutting into bite-size chunks.

Continue from this point if you already have cooked meat and broth available. Slice and saute on high heat:

  • 2 TBL oil
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms

cooking until well colored. Set aside. In the meantime, dice

  • 2 medium (or 1 large) turnips
  • 1 parsnip
  • 3 medium-sized or 2 large carrots
  • 1 large onion

In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat

  • 1-2 TBL olive oil

and saute vegetables for 10 minutes. Then add

  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Continue cooking for 10 minutes stirring often. Stop cooking while vegetables are still a bit crisp, especially the potatoes. Add

  • chicken meat (1 pound or whatever you obtained from cooking the chicken thighs)
  • 5 ounces frozen peas

Spoon into a baking dish or gratin pan. Generally this is about the size of a 13- x 9-inch baking pan or a decorative dish. The pan should hold all the mixture with a bit of room to spare; broader is better because you get more crust surface.

In a small bowl, combine until smooth

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425º F. In a large saucepan, heat

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 tsp chicken base or 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 3/4 tsp salt

to a boil. Then add the milk mixture. Stir until it thickens. Stir sauce and pour over chicken/vegetable mixture in the baking dish

In a mixing bowl, combine

  • scant 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in

  • 1/2 cup shortening

When mixture resembles coarse crumbs, sprinkle with

  • 1/3 cup ice water

ATTN1 TBL at a time, mixing with a fork in each area where you sprinkle. Add only enough water for the dough to bind together. Roll it out on a floured surface into a shape about 2 inches bigger than the top of the baking dish. Position over filling, folding the 1-inch overhang into a flute. Brush crust with

  • Milk or 1 beaten egg

ATTNCut slits in top of crust. Place on a cookie sheet to catch any drips and transfer to the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes until crust is golden brown and filling is hot and bubbling. You may need to cover the edge of the crust with foil to prevent over-browning. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Turkey Soup

I love gathering up turkey carcasses that family and friends want to throw out at Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes they are loaded with meat, but even if well trimmed, they yield a delicious soup.

Soak overnight in separate bowls 1 cup barley and 2 cups dried lima beans. I soak them separately.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the carcass(es) on one or more oven-safe trays, along with 2 onions., a few carrots and celery stalks. Be sure the trays have sides as there tends to be some juice attached to the carcasses that will liquefy as it heats. From time to time, turn the bones and vegetables as they brown.

Transfer the bones and vegetables to a stock pot, breaking the rib cage if it doesn’t fit in your stock pot. Add just enough water to cover the bones and vegetables. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add salt and bay leaves. Let cook for at least an hour. When the stock tastes good, remove the bones and vegetables to a colander. Pour the stock through a fine strainer. Pick the meat from the bones and reserve. You can force the carrots through the sieve to impart their flavor to the stock. Discard the vegetables and bones.

Add the barley and beans to the stock, and bring to a boil. Cook until the beans and barley are nearly done. Add a mixture of diced carrots and parsnip. Cook for 15 minutes and add the reserved meat. Adjust seasoning and serve with egg noodles, dumplings or anything else you like.

Multi-Grain Stuffing

My mother would often make this, not fully cooking the grain, and use it to stuff the Thanksgiving turkey. The excess would sit around the turkey in the roasting pan. At other times, she’d cook it as I do, in a skillet cooking to completion, and serve it as a side dish.

The day before you plan to make the stuffing, pick over

  • 1/2 cup barley

and soak it overnight in water.

Start heating some 2 quarts of water, almost to a boil. You will use this to cook the grain. Meanwhile, finely mince

  • 1 very large onion or 3 of the medium-sized onions often sold in bulk
Also finely mince, keeping separate from the onion
  • 1/2 pound peeled carrots
  • 3 ribs of celery

In an electric frying pan or large skillet, heat

  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Add the onions and cook until soft. After 5 minutes add the carrots and celery.

Meanwhile, in a smaller skillet over medium heat, add

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup uncooked orzo

Stir from time to time and continue to cook until most of the orzo have reached the color of chestnuts, a very dark brown. Don’t worry, it won’t taste burnt, and don’t wimp out and just have them lightly browned.

This batch has a way to go… it needs to be much darker.

When the vegetables have softened, add the drained barley, the cooked orzo and

  • 2 cups of mixed grains (See the note at the end of the recipe.)

Use caution with the next step as ATTN the water will splatter as you begin to add it to the pan. Add:

  • 1 TBL mushroom soup base or some dried bouillon
  • 11/2 tsp salt
  • 6+ cups of hot water.

Reduce to a simmer and cover. Every 5-10 minutes check on the water level and the consistency of the grains. If it’s dry and the grains aren’t fully cooked, add water. When it’s done and the grains are easily chewed check the seasoning. Serve right away or let cool and reheat later. This makes about 10-12 cups depending on the grains you use. For a very large crowd at Thanksgiving I generally double this recipe.

NOTE: Typically I’ve used 2/3 brown rice, 1/3 cup bulgur wheat, 1/3 cup whole buckwheat (kasha), 1/3 cup millet and 1/3 quinoa. You should feel free to experiment with the grains. What I’ve learned is that white rice cooks a little more quickly than some of the others, so I prefer brown rice. Kasha has a strong flavor some people don’t like, although I prefer to toast the kasha in a skillet briefly after I finish frying the orzo; this enhances the flavor. I believe that using bulgur wheat causes the dish to be a little softer. I’m still playing around with this to refine the grain mixture.