Is It Fall Yet?



I realize it’s not quite Fall yet here in the States, but you know it’s only around the corner. The days are getting shorter, the light hits things differently, and if you must know I’ve already celebrated Oktoberfest, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, and Kwanzaa–all through work, of course. Forgive me if I jump the gun and tell myself Fall is already here; it’s only so I can dive into the rich, savory, hearty foods that autumn brings.

Like almost every other person I know, my introduction to pot pies was through the frozen foods section of the grocery store as a child. Thanks to Swanson, I always thought pot pies arrived pre-made in that light blue box, living in that petite aluminum bowl before making their way into the oven. In fact, I had never really given them much thought, and then it hit me: how on earth could I not go crazy over warm chicken, cream, and tender vegetables all hidden under a perfect, golden baked crust? Shame on me, I thought, and thus I began my exploration under the hood and into these glorious, little savory pies.

Like most good things, magic happens when a few things come together to create something greater than the sums of their parts. A few bites of roasted leftover chicken, some small bits of tender vegetables and some herbs and spices go a long way when baked together in butter and broth. And then there’s the crust. Oh that crust! It’s the absolute best part of a pot pie, and without it it’s just a plate of food living in the cramped quarters of a baking dish.

I’ve seen people get fancy with pot pies, and you’ll never hear me disagree. I love them in every shape and form. But mess with them too much and they become other baked pies; shepherd’s pie, steak and kidney pie, beef pie, etc. Right now I’m craving the pot pie in its most simplest form, created with chicken, stock, butter and vegetables. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t add anything your heart desires. My friend Cindie uses the pot pie as a vehicle to clean out her fridge, adding onions and herbs and anything else that fits. That sounds heavenly! But this week I’m going to stick to the pure and simple, opting for the chicken pot pie of my youth. Minus the small aluminum dish and box, if you don’t mind.

Easy Chicken Pot Pies
This recipe first appeared in the November 1995 issue of Bon Appétit. It’s so simple and foolproof and the perfect base to customize, if you wish. I cannot make a pastry or pie crust if my life depended on it, but you can easily forgo the premade stuff and do it  yourself. And if you crave the freshness of non-frozen veggies you can use those. Get chopping!


2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
8 ounces skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cups canned chicken broth
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place crust on work surface. Press out fold lines; pinch to seal any cracks. Cut out 2 pastry rounds to fit top of two 2-cup ramekins. Arrange crusts on baking sheet. Pierce with fork. Bake crusts until golden, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon sage in medium bowl. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to flour; toss to coat. Melt butter in heavy large skillet oven medium-high heat. Add chicken and any remaining flour to skillet and stir until chicken is brown, about 5 minutes. Mix in broth, vegetables and 1 teaspoon sage. Bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat, cover skillet and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer filling to ramekins. Top with crusts and serve.

This makes 2 Servings but can easily be doubled for larger pies, hint hint.


  1. says

    ahhhhh swanson chicken pot pies. they sold beef pot pies too, but they weren’t quite the same… for me, a chicken pot pie in a tiny pie tin belongs on a t.v. tray in the living room – that was where my mother and i would eat them while we watched sitcom reruns from the 60’s on our black & white tv. there was something magical about cracking open the crust with my spoon and watching the steam curl out of the pie until it was cool enough for my 5 year old palate. i still love a swanson pot pie, if i have to admit it, from time to time if for no other reason than nostalgia.

    however, having never made a pot pie from scratch, and now having what looks like a perfect recipe to do so, i think i may need to create some new memories for my mother and myself the next time i have a chance.

    what a great post! and what a GREAT little blue pie crock in the photo!

  2. says

    One fond childhood memory I have of Swanson pot pies was taking my fork and cracking open the flakey crust, watching the steam float upward, sending curling, ethereal tendrils skyward, hauling up the perfect bite of juicy chicken and crust on my fork to my mouth, and then SCREAMING IN PAIN as I seared the roof of my mouth on the hottest mutha *&%^n food to ever come out of an oven! I remember my mouth requiring days to heal and I’ve never been able to look at a pot pie without subconsciously wincing and stepping away a bit.

    Now, having said that, your little aqua crock pie does look delicious (and YES, fall is my FAVORITE season) if you promise to let it rest for an hour after it’s removed from the oven. :)

  3. says

    What a nostalgic autumn memory trip. Steaming hot, burning the roof of my mouth (exactly, Kevin!), crumbling the pastry into the creaminess of the pot pie (my favorite part), and the green peas popping between my teeth. I remember Swanson tuna pot pies, too — much harder to find than the others. They reminded me of my mother’s “tuna a la king” aka creamed tuna on toast – a sixties dish that can best be described as tuna noodle caserole without the noodles. Don’t even ask.

  4. says

    the days may be getting shorter, but have you not noticed that it is about, oh, i dunno, NINE BILLION DEGREES (4.4 billion if you’re celsius) outside?!?!

    oh well. i’ll take a pot pie by the pool anyday. :)

  5. says

    I always prefer the pie to be thermonuclear meltdown hot when served. It makes you slow down a bit and the aroma envelopes you as you punch in.. If I have the energy, I am gonna give this recipe a try.

    Its much cooler here in the north east.. fall is the BEST season here and pot pies are a god-given right *winks*

  6. says

    I feel the pain of your calendar confusion – though not quite to the same degree. As a graphic designer in the newspaper industry (advertising side), we’re typically weeks to a month or so ahead. At least I’m not already post holidays! One upshot is that the good holidays are like a two-fer – Thanksgiving finally comes around when I think Christmas has come and gone. – like Scrooge waking up on Christmas Morning!
    The downside, on a cool dreary day in the middle of the summer, or an unseasonably warm and snow free day in February, I have absolutely no sense of time/season.

    I LOVE the fall… the colors, foods, everything. The leaves are just starting to fall in these parts. And the days are just getting crisp enough that I could enjoy one of these pies tomorrow!

  7. says

    Just when I look forward to the healthy eating which takes over the rich, creamy and hearty dishes that have presided my dining table for the past few months…you create this! Looks stunning and like a great meal for a weekend lazy lunch!

  8. says

    Sorry Matt, but I can’t share in your fall love-fest just quite yet since our summer lasted all of about 2.4 weeks, although perhaps I could be persuaded with chunks of chicken in a creamy sauce, under a blanket of buttery crust.

    Ok, and the idea of Christmas, Hannukah, and Birthday presents does have a certain appeal too.

    (Does Kwanzaa have gifts? If so, sign me up for that one too.)

  9. says

    Hi there. I, too, enjoy Fall as it reminds me of many things growing up like my Mom making her jams, jellies & chutneys, leaves falling off the trees, back to school etc. At the moment, though, it’s still warm where I live (Hong Kong) so I’ll have to wait a bit longer to feel the morning chill in the air!

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