Yes, it’s true. In my entire life, I’ve only attempted to make a pie crust twice. Call it pie crust phobia if you will – but I’m scared to death of making a pie – fearful that the crust will be tough or too thick or thin, or…..whatever…
My Grandmom made terrific pies. She had this magic pastry cloth that she would get out of its special drawer and roll out the pie dough to perfection. When done, she’d fold up the magic cloth and back into the drawer it went. Did the thing ever get washed? Did the oils in the dough ever turn the cloth rancid? Not that I ever found out, but I have no such magic cloth and the thoughts of washing/not washing and rancidity run through my mind. Nope…I am not a pie maker.
That being said, I got the notion to make an honest to goodness chicken pot pie. From scratch….. meaning – pie crust. I have hundreds of pins on Pinterest about pies and pie crusts, but instead, I went to my culinary library and pulled my copy of The Southern Heritage: Pies and Pastry Cookbook (c. 1984) from the bookshelf. Voila ! A recipe for basic double-crust pastry. The game was on.
Basic Double-Crust Pastry from the Pies and Pastry Cookbook
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening
5 to 6 tablespoons water
Combine flour and salt in medium mixing bowl, cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles course meal. Sprinkle water evenly over surface, stir with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Shape dough into ball; chill.
So, I did all that, letting the dough chill for a couple of hours. I had leftover chicken from herbed chicken and dumplings from the night before. I had taken all the chicken off the bone along with the “gravy” that had resulted from cooking the dumplings. I peeled a couple of potatoes and cut them into bite-sized chunks, chopped 1/2 of an onion, and a carrot. I put the veggies on to boil while I prepared my casserole dish with the dough.
I took a knife and cut about 2/3 off the ball of dough. Now, remember – I don’t have a magic pastry cloth !!!!! Instead, I put the dough between two sheets of waxed paper and rolled it out, lifting the top sheet to sprinkle a little flour over the surface as I went. Much to my amazement – it was actually working!!
I lifted the dough and fit it into my buttered casserole dish (to butter or not to butter was another question, but always err on the side of butter if you are in doubt!!). The dough fit nearly up the sides – it could have been rolled a wee bit more, but hey…. this is a big leap forward in my baking adventures.
I took the remaining 1/3 of the dough and rolled it for the top of the crust. Then I took the now boiling veggies off the stove and drained them. Mixed them in with the chicken and gravy and poured them into the casserole dish. I placed the top crust on, poked a few slits in the top crust for steam, and baked it at 350 F for 45 minutes. The result was a perfectly flaky top and bottom crust with a really tasty filling. If I had some frozen peas, I would have added them into the pie, but it was really fine just the way it was.
I don’t know if I am completely cured of my pie crust phobia, but at least now, I feel a little less intimidated by the process. Who knows – it is getting to be apple season. Could there be an apple pie in my future?