Boiling Point: It’s a good day when pot pie is served

Jim Hillibish

My 401(k) statement arrived. Luckily, I was sitting down. At times like these, let’s be frank, we want our mommies. She’d know what to do. She always did. And she made us feel good about it.

Mommy’s gone, but not absolutely. We still have her recipe box. It’s purely sentimental cooking. The chicken pot pie card fast rewinds the great videotape of life.

It was Wednesday, chicken pot pie day. We’d be running home from school and could almost taste it. We’d walk in the house and be hit by a wall of chicken steam boiling on the stove. That is so good.

We’d all be at the table early, washed up and anticipating, no need to call us. Then it arrived: A dish with perfectly browned crust on top, belying the rewarding filling below it.

Dad always cut the crust, the patriarchal prerogative. He would always take more than his share, but we never complained. It would not have helped.

The agony was in the heat. You had to wait for the inferno to simmer down on your plate, all the more tempted by the steam, this time smelling of chicken and vegetables and marvelous gravy.

I could have flunked a math test that day (and probably did). I could have been sprayed by a skunk and been bit on the butt by Buster the poodle. No matter. It’s always a good day when the chicken pot pie arrived.

We felt so good afterwards, fulfilled, actually. Nobody took anti-depressants. Pot pie did the deed.

Pot pie is so typically American it squeaks. It’s a cinch to make, and one large chicken breast feeds four, an excellent strategy for these times.

For my post 401(k) statement pot pie, I added butter beans, a good Depression-era ingredient, and subtracted the potatoes. I added sesame seeds to the top crust, mostly because I had them.

Here we go: A pot pie is not as good as your mommy, but it certainly takes second place.



3 strips bacon

One-quarter cup flour

1 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 chicken breast

1 can (15.5 ounces) butter beans, drained (or an equal amount of diced, boiled  potatoes)

1 red onion, diced

1 stalk celery with leaves, diced

1 can (4 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained

1 large carrot, peeled and cut in rounds

Pepper and salt to taste

Boil chicken breast for 20 minutes in water with two chicken-bouillon cubes or teaspoons of granular. Fry bacon and remove to drain and crumble. Add flour to bacon grease and mix to combine. Over low heat, slowly add milk, whisking to eliminate lumps. Add egg, vinegar and seasonings. Pour into greased casserole dish. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and add. Add vegetables and crumbled bacon.


2 cups sifted flour

2 tsp. baking powder

4 tablespoons butter or shortening

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk, room temperature

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut shortening into small pieces and mix. (This is where I use my hands by rubbing the butter into the flour).

Add milk while stirring until dough forms. Turn out on lightly floured board and roll to one-half inch thick. Cut to size of casserole and place on top, crimping edge with fingers. Spread on sesame seeds. Cut remaining dough into biscuits.

In oven, place a cookie sheet on rack below casserole to catch drippings.

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Allow to sit for 15 minutes before cutting. Serves 4

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