The Lesson of Chicken Pot Pie

pie2Recently in Kansas City, I ordered chicken pot pie for lunch. Jim and I and our son and his wife had walked to a small bistro in their neighborhood owned by an ‘iron chef’ contestant.

Now chicken pot pie is one of my favorite meals. What’s not to like? It’s sort of healthy with the traditional carrots and peas and potatoes along with the chicken inside a flaky crust. And it’s absolutely yummy in the comfort food sort of way.

I’ve ordered it many times in restaurants, and it’s always made differently. The KC variety had a small amount of rich gravy, big chunks of tender chicken, ultra slim green beans, julienned baby carrots a good inch long, and potato bites. On top was a golden rectangle of puff pastry. I ate every bite.

Last winter I ordered my favorite in Maine, and it was a savory dish that had a dash of sage in the gravy. A biscuit sat in the middle of the bowl and on top of it was a dollop of cranberry sauce. It was Thanksgiving in a bowl. I’ve since made a similar variety and decided I’d always add poultry seasoning and sage to the filling.

I once had this dish in Connecticut with the entire top and bottom crust made of filo dough. So there were layers and layers of crunch along with the smooth and chunky chicken/vegetable filling.

pie1I made it that way for a while, too. I’ve made it with pie crust baked on a cookie sheet, so it wouldn’t be soggy. I’ve served it with biscuits, again baked separately so they would add the right crunch.

I even like Marie Callender’s chicken pot pie. It’s fast and it’s delicious.

No matter what type I’ve eaten, every time I’ve eaten the whole thing. Every time I’ve thought of how delicious it was, how it deserved to be called chicken pot pie, and yet how different it was from what I previously thought of chicken pot pie.

Each one was different, and yet they were the same.

I’m not pleased to admit that there have been times in my life when I thought there was one way and only one way to make chicken pot pie. Or for that matter, to do something else. I knew absolutely that this was right and this was wrong. I saw the world in absolutes, in black and white, not even with colors thrown in. Now I really do see a world of various shades of gray with tints of red and blue and yellow and all the shades those colors can make.

I wish I’d widened my view a little earlier in life. Maybe that’s one gift of growing older. Or maybe the lesson was around me all my life, even in the way a chicken pot pie is made.