Tag Archives: gravy

A Friday evening flashback

Life has been both busy and slow at the same time. How can that happen?

This past weekend started out busy but then coasted to through to a quiet couple of days. On Friday evening, I helped out serving at the Knights of Columbus fish fry. Our daughter’s best friend, Norma, invited us to go over to her house afterwards for a small get-together and to eat some of those fish dinners. We’ve known Norma and her family since the girls were all middle-school age. Early on, our families had discovered an amazing coincidence. Both of our families had five children; we all grew up in the same town (Wheeling, West Virginia) at the same time; and we all attended the same parochial school, St. Vincent de Paul, in Elm Grove.

On Friday evening, I sat down with Norma’s mother and aunt and played “Do you remember…?” It was incredible what we both recalled. In addition to sharing the same school, we played in the same parks, went to the same movie theaters and swimming pools, attended the same church and shopped at the same stores. We even shared the same family physicians. It’s amazing that none of us can remember knowing one another back in the mid-60s when we were all at the same school together. The best we can figure out is that we must have alternated grades. Despite each family having five children, spread across roughly the same time frame, none of us were in the same class. As the evening wore down, I remembered one last detail of those years.

“Did your mom ever cook city chicken?”

“Oh my God! I haven’t thought about that in years! We had it all the time.”

City Chicken

City chicken is a dish apparently indigenous to western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio. It is simply cubed pork and veal, arranged on a wooden skewer and cooked like chicken. My recollection is my mom browned it in butter, made gravy and then finished the cooking by simmering the pieces in gravy. It was served with noodles. What a flashback! Now Mrs. Poolman is hot to trot to cook some city chicken and have the other families over for a 1960s dinner. Should be fun.

My, oh my! What a pot pie!

Mrs. Poolman and I share separate, but similar bad childhood memories of pot pies. Both our mothers cooked (if you can call it that) and served the pre-made Banquet or Swanson pies. My recollection is of an aluminum foil mini-pie pan with only a top-crust and filled with nasty, oozing, yellow gravy, a few peas and carrots and maybe a little meat. The pot pies made those old-style TV dinners look like gourmet feasts. That experience left me with a deep seated aversion to pot pies – until recently.

In an effort to convert me, last winter, Mrs. P made a very good chicken pot pie. She constructed and baked it in a casserole-size baking dish. The filling was full of meat and the whole thing tasted great.

On Wednesday, it was my turn to make dinner, using some left-over grilled steak from earlier in the week. Usually, we will put the steak on a salad or make quesadillas or fajitas. I thought I would try something new.

How about a steak pie?

This was brand, new culinary territory for me. So you can imagine my excitement when it turned out really good. Here is what I did.

Steak Pie

What I used.

  • App. 1 lb (0r more) of cooked steak, sliced into small pieces.
  • One package of pre-made pie dough (2 pieces, top and bottom)
  • One onion – chopped
  • ½ stick butter or margarine
  • One “scoop” of flour
  • 2 cups of beef broth (bouillon crystals or cubes dissolved in hot water)
  • ½ cup of milk (because that was all that was in the carton) The milk is optional.
  • One small can of mushroom stems and pieces
  • App. one cup of leftover green beans (because I had them.)

 The Crust

In a small, ungreased casserole (8×8” or 7×9”) dish, spread one of the pie dough pieces, lining the bottom and sides. The pie dough is probably fitted for a round pie pan, so you’ll have to cut and patch to make it fit. Save the second piece for the top.

The Filling

In a large sauce pan, saute the chopped onion in the butter until the onion is soft.

Add the “scoop” (approximately two tablespoons) of flour to the onion-butter mixture. Mix well and allow it to cook for about a minute or two.

Add the beef broth/bouillon and milk and stir until it is a smooth gravy. Add the bouillon a little at a time, and adjust the amount according to the thickness of the gravy. You want it fairly thick.

The filling -- before adding the meat.

Add the meat and vegetables and mix well.

This is how much meat I had to work with.

Pour the mixture into the dough-lined casserole dish.

Before the top crust was added.

Spread the second dough piece over the top, once again, cutting and patching to completely cover the pie. Try to get the bottom and top pieces to meet and use a fork to crimp them together along the edge of the dish.

Ready for the oven.

Use a knife to put a couple of cross-shaped slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape during the baking. You may have to check on those “vents” during the baking. As the crust bakes, the holes may close up.

Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

...and ready to eat.

Note: I used green beans last night, because that is what I had in the refrigerator. You can add whatever vegetables you like, or skip the veggies all together.

Bon appetite!