Day before yesterday I got all excited about a lunar eclipse and I ran outside with Ferdinand to show him the moon looking like a big gray marble in the sky, and he said, “why is the moon covered up like that?” And I said, “Dad”? And Dad said, “Mom”? And I had only a foggy notion that the earth had something to do with it, but no idea why it happened only on certain occasions, and I said “Ferdinand, I want you to remember this, it’s not always so important to know the answer, but can you find the answer”? I ran into the house and called my girlfriend to get the facts. Later on when Ferd had been lying in bed an hour, and no where near sleep he asked me, who is in charge of the class? I know that, so I told him. Then he said, who is in charge of the teacher? and I know that too. He said who is charge of the principal? I told him. He said who is in charge of the superintendent? I told him. He said who is in charge of the mayor? I said, go to sleep. I’ll tell you in the morning.
I have accepted the fact that my knowledge base is minimal but it leaves me with an uncomfortable kind of mild panic about is there a hole in my brain where all that information I once knew is dropping from? I find myself trying to seek comfort in what I do know by randomly cataloging what is left in my brain..the third president, the first president, the 9 tables, a few words in Italian, how to thread a sewing machine, the definition of random terms in Algebra and how to make chicken pot pie. I do know how to make chicken pot pie, and as a matter of fact last night I threw myself a hook by adding the flour right into the vegetables instead of spending all the time to make a roux on the side, just to keep to myself in the ring.
I already had a poached chicken breast on the bone in the fridge. If you don’t, just throw it in a pot, add water, at least 6 cups, and bring it to a boil with a piece of garlic, a few peppercorns, a piece of leek or onion, and a carrot and a bay leaf (or none of it). Turn it right down to a gentle simmer, and cook just until done. Leave in the liquid.
Peel and cut up four fist sized potatoes and four carrots. Dice an onion. Heat up a little olive oil and butter and cook the onion with a bay leaf and some chopped parsley and salt for about 10 minutes over low heat. Add another tablespoon of butter and stir it around with the potatoes and carrots until the vegetables stick to the pan. Add 3 tablespoons of flour. Stir again for at least two minutes until the flour doesn’t taste raw. Turn off the heat. Add a ladleful of the cooking liquid from your chicken, or just hot water. Stir. Add another ladleful. Stir again. Do this twice more, until the liquid in the pan is smooth, and about as thick as sour cream. Turn the heat back on to medium. Add about three cups of liquid, or enough so that the vegetables are covered. Season with salt. Simmer uncovered until the vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, rub 6 tablespoons of butter into 2 cups of flour, 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, until there are uneven lumps, some small, some medium, none no bigger than a kidney bean. Add about 2/3 cup of milk, or until the mixture is like thick mud.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Turn off the heat of your filling. Shred in the chicken. Pour into a baking dish. Spoon the biscuit dough in bits over the top and bake until the biscuits are starting to brown, and look done, about 15 or 20 minutes. The filling has got to be hot before it goes in the oven.
Serve with a side salad of radicchio and endive and watercress, and a dessert of vanilla pudding with whipped cream.