Menu 30: Chicken Pot Pie and Waldorf Salad

We have comfort food this week.  Don’t believe me? Take a look:

  • Waldorf Salad – page 121
  • Chicken Pot-Pie – page 286 

The salad is one of does dishes that carries their name based on the location it was created in, in this case the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.  Oscar Tschirky, left his job as head waiter at the fashionable Delmonico’s Restaurant to join the staff of a new hotel being built in 1893, the new job would lead to a career more successful than he dreamed, and he would be credited for the invention of at least three foods Americans would enjoy throughout the 20th Century, although he never was, and never claimed to be, a chef. After the Waldorf Hotel opened in 1893 New Yorkers began enjoying an unusual salad on the menu, consisting of just three ingredients:  cubed apples, chopped celery and mayonnaise.  It was called the Waldorf salad, reputed to be the brainchild of Oscar Tschirky, and it was an instant hit. Cooks are forever trying to improve the salad, or put their stamp on it, but whenever one tastes chunks of apple and celery slathered in mayonnaise with bits of nuts, no matter what else is there, one is apt to think “Waldorf Salad!”

Then we have another american staple - the chicken Pot Pie, if we thought that the Waldorft had infinitive variations, the chicken pot-pie is not very far behind. Some say that it’s a variation of the “Pasty”, which is a pastry case, associated with Cornwall and Devon in the south west of England. It is made by placing the uncooked filling on a flat pastry circle, and folding it to wrap the filling, crimping the edge to form a seal. The result is a raised semicircular package.  Sounds familiar anyone? Sounds to me like a empanada. Another variation of the history is that it gets its ancestry from the Greeks and Romans. Where the Greeks cooked meats in open pastry shells called artrocreas, however it was the Romans who added to top crust making the first pot pies. During the Elizabethan era, these savory pastries — decorated with flowers, fanciful designs and heraldic devices — were elaborate assertions of the chef’s skill in the royal households of France and England. Since these pies were an elaborate dish, one that took time to make with it’s different component and steps plus add te cooking time, it’s no surprise that time issues was what lead to the abandonment of the homemade potpie in favor of the frozen variety, making this dish the original fronzen dish of the 60’s.

Fortunately, the resurgence in so-called retro foods has brought homemade potpies back to the table.  And the Kitchen Bible provides us a simple, easy version, one that can be made with ready made puff pastry and cooked chicken, which in less than an hour can be in your table for your family to enjoy. Or you can get gutsy on us and go the elaborate route by making your own version. 

So are you going to make both? Or just one of these choices this week…I for one know that the pot pie is a given, both Tom and I really love the dish.  The salad my make our Sunday beach picnic.  Guess we will have to wait and see.  Just like I will to see who choose to do what over the week.  Happy Easter guys and happy cooking.