Hey guys, and welcome to this Sunday’s installation of Cries of Despair from the Lungs of a Fallen Eagle. That Eagle? Me. Those cries? Some wordiness eventually resulting in an absurdly decadent dinner-pie recipe.
Also, did you notice how all of those words up there were capitalized like they were part of the title of some piece of literature? I just wanted to see how that felt.
It’s been a difficult few weeks for me emotionally, and I guess generally, as I’ve been pursuing the grim prospect of employment during this trying period of our country’s history. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to market myself beyond my ability to carry a tray while looking fantastic in dim lighting, covered in beer. Beyond that, I am a proverbial infant. Meaning, yes, I cry myself to sleep every single night. All night. Just heavy, snotty sobs, yearning for my mother’s bosom.
Unfortunately for me and my delicate feelings, I live with a highly motivated and professional man who continuously reminds me, through a harmonious combination of inspirational speech and daily, unconscious action, that I should quit whining and just keep doing the damn thing until it gets done and it’s like, holy shit, that’s just America for you, isn’t it? That’s just some straight up inspirational American shit. My Grandpa spent his youth tearing the heads off of live chickens and chasing their headless bodies around a chicken-shit covered barn and I’m like, man, cover letters are hard and redundant. And you know what? They are hard and redundant. They are the worst. But they aren’t anything like twisting the tiny heads off of live chickens and playing poultry tag in the dusty springtime.
What I am trying to say is America. It is vast, and it is durable, and it is comprised of a bizarre dichotomy of people who boast of upholding its founding values and those who actually define it. Somewhere in the middle of those two things, people blog. This country, let’s be honest (without actually getting into it), is a weird ass country. But I believe in it. To America, I sing songs of rich justice. I sing songs that sound a lot like America the Beautiful, but I’m not going to claim to know all the lyrics to America the Beautiful. And to America I do dedicate this magical recipe: Chicken, Cheddar, and Apple Pie.
I think savory pies are so fantastic. It means you eat goddamn pie for dinner. There is baking and also there is salt. I think that is what our forefathers were getting at when they traded small pox for corn. They wanted their children to grow up in a world where dairy meets meat meets fruit meets dessert meets butter meets GOD.
I was nervous about how this whole thing might turn out. Flavor-wise, it’s right up my ally. But pies are tricky. Sometimes ingredients of pristine integrity turn to Oliver Twist-y soup-matter in pies, and you can’t see a damn thing happening until you cut that sucker open and all is lost (e.g. childbirth). It’s a lot to trust to blind fate. However, in my case, I’d like to just think my understanding of baking is so comprehensive that failure wasn’t even a variable. Now, despite that being the least true, we sat down to dinner and my boyfriend responded with, “It’s actually pretty good.” That is the My Boyfriend equivalent of seven Michelin stars, so make this pie now. If there’s anything I regret, it’s not putting a little more effort into making it beautiful, but it was, like, 9 p.m. and we were pretty hungry. You, however, should plan ahead, redeem my sloth.
Chicken, Cheddar, and Apple Pie
Preheat oven to 425°F
18 oz Flour
2 oz Sugar
½ oz Salt
1 tsp Baking powder
8 oz (2 sticks) Unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
½ cup Cold water
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Dried dill
In the bowl of a mixer, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and seasoning (if you choose to use it). Mix on low with a dough hook until combined. Add butter and mix on medium-low until butter is cut into flour and chunks are the size of very small grapes. Add egg and egg yolk. Scrape down bowl and bit, then gradually add cold water. You may not need to add all of the water. Add water until the dough begins to form a solid ball, but you do not want dough to be wet or sticky. There should be some dry flour remaining in the bottom of the bowl. After dough starts to collect, turn dough onto a floured surface and kneed a few times until a solid ball is formed. Create a thick, round disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
1 Full bone-in chicken breast
or 2 Boneless, skinless breasts
1/2 Large yellow onion
Herbs of your choosing
You can prepare the chicken in nearly any way you’d like. If I had had time, and we weren’t starving, I might have done it in the slow cooker and done a sort of pulled-chicken. You could also simply oven-roast the breasts for 20-30 minutes, covered, with a little oil and seasoning. I did the following:
Slice half an onion and place in a shallow pot with chicken. Fill pot with water (or stock) to cover chicken. Add herbs if so desired. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool, then cut into 1-cm sized chunks, or shred it, or whatever.
4 Grannysmith apples, peeled and cored
First, dice the other half of the onion. Sautee in a small amount of oil or butter until translucent, and set aside. In the same pan, also sautee apples, diced, in a small amount of oil or butter until tender and sweet, but not soft. Set aside with onions.
18 oz Milk
1 tbsp Sugar
1 oz Corn starch
1 Egg yolk
7 oz Light cream
12 oz Cheddar, grated
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
2 tsp Nutmeg
18-20 leaves Fresh sage, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium sauce pan, bring milk and sugar to a boil. In a medium bowl, combine corn starch, egg, egg yolk, and light cream and whisk until combined. When milk has boiled, remove from heat and temper starch mixture by slowly pouring in milk while simultaneously whisking. Return mixture to stove, and bring back to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and add cheddar, mixing until melted. Add remaining seasonings.
Divide dough in half. Roll out half of crust to an 1/8 inch thickness. Line your chosen pie dish wish dough, and press into bottom and sides very gently. “Dock” the bottom of the dough by piercing with the prongs of a fork. Return to the refrigerator or freezer for an additional 15 minutes before filling.
Combine apples, onions, and chicken with cheddar filling. Remove second half of dough from fridge and roll out for the top of the pie. Remove pie crust from fridge and fill with chicken, apples, and cheddar. Cover with remaining dough, and press down on edges to seal. Cut along edges to remove excess dough. Use fingers or fork to press down and seal the layers of dough. Brush the dough with an egg wash (either whole egg or egg mixed with water) and cut slits in the top of dough. Make them nicer than mine.
Place pie in the middle of oven. Close door, and lower oven temperature to 375°F. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until crust is a deep, golden brown, turning the pie in the oven halfway through baking. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before serving. Hint: Spinach and fennel salad is a good friend to this pie.