Have you ever seen a man using Meal Train? Now, I’m not writing men off entirely—I believe that somewhere out there they are coordinating meal efforts for those who need them or signing up for a slot to bring dinner. I just haven’t witnessed it yet. This work—this beautiful, ordinary, often inconvenient work—seems to be shouldered mostly by women. Even if they don’t cook, women are the ones ordering a meal, texting about drop-off times, driving it over after work at rush hour, and oohing appreciatively over the new baby or offering sympathy after the surgery.
Taking dinner to someone navigating life’s upheavals is an old art—one that bridges the past to the present, bridges our own insular little worlds to others. Even as the pace of modern life changes, women have kept up with the kind of caring that comes in casserole dishes (disposable, if you know what you’re doing). Meal-coordination websites have just made this thread of connection binding us together visible.
According to the website sign-up forms, we are all bringing the same kind of things: White chicken chili. Lasagna. Vegetable beef stew and rolls. Salsa chicken tacos. (There is a lot of chicken.) Chicken pot pie belongs to this particular family of dinners. It transports well and reheats nicely. It includes vegetables, but packages them in a cream sauce and flaky pastry to distract any potential picky eaters. Chiefly—it’s comforting, the kind of dinner your mama would make you (or that you’d make yourself as a child with the help of Marie Callender). See, the comfort of being cared for is ultimately what you bring when you bring a meal. And that’s a train anyone can get on board.
Ingredients: Skillet Chicken Pot Pie
9 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 small onions, diced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1½ cups carrots, thinly sliced
16 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup frozen green peas
4 cups cooked, shredded chicken
½ tsp. dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, minced
1½ cups chicken stock
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
½ cup whole milk
1 Tbs. Louisiana hot sauce
1 (10-inch) square puff pastry sheet, thawed
1 egg, beaten
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat and cook onions, carrots, and celery until slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Add 1 more tablespoon of butter, mushrooms, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, ½ teaspoon dried thyme, garlic, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender, stirring when needed, about 8 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken and green peas; remove from heat.
3. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and cook until thickened, about 6 minutes. Add milk and hot sauce, whisking. Pour cream sauce into chicken mixture, stirring to combine.
4. Drape the thawed puff pastry sheet over filling. Brush lightly with beaten egg wash, and cut 4 slits into the pastry to vent steam. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, 20 to 22 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Photography by Jivan Davé