If you don’t like eating eyeballs, then you have no business searching the internet for Halloween foods.
That’s my takeaway, at least, from trying to do so myself. Recipe after recipe featured some bright orb or other, edible at least in theory, painted to resemble those things that let us see. Literally and figuratively, it was not a pretty sight.
Then again, my hopes weren’t especially high. Years ago, when I wrote more articles about restaurants than about cooking at home, I was rather underwhelmed by eateries that made a big deal out of Halloween. The typical Halloween menu (yes, I surely wrote about it for some publication) was all about nomenclature. Filet mignon with red wine sauce became “Dracula’s Blood.” The chocolate cake with dark ganache drizzled outward on the plate became a Chocolate Spider. You get the idea.
For this reason, among others, Halloween has never become a food holiday, as far as I can tell. Except for candy corn, which no one seems to love except me, there’s not a whole lot of eating going on. And whatever oldtime Trick or Treat used to serve up (apples? homemade brownies?), kids these days probably would prefer something in a familiar branded wrapper. I’m not making fun of our younger generations. It’s just the way things are.
But then, all of a sudden the way things happen on the internet, up popped an old article from one of those “women’s service magazines.” I know I got my writing into Good Housekeeping and Family Circle from time to time. This was Woman’s Day, and I can’t remember if I ever did anything for them. As a man writing about food, you found your assignments where they lived.
The original for this Halloween pot pie called for various cookie cutters, but the more I thought about it (not owning any Halloween cooking cutters), I thought maybe I could just make a puff pastry Jack o’ Lantern with a knife, all on my own. Turns out, I could, and you can too, unless you’ve been waiting and waiting to pull out your drawerful of Halloween cookie cutters. Gather ye cookie cutters while ye may, I suppose.
The funniest thing was that, when I was growing up, even though my mother and father both loved to cook, they invariably served us storebought frozen pot pies. According to what I’ve read, these pot pies were among the first great financial successes of the 1950s frozen-food era, along with TV dinners and those shaky little folding tables so everybody could eat while staring at the snowy black-and-white screen. For THIS recipe, I’d be making my own pot pie more or less from scratch.
I have to tell you, it’s not difficult at all. The mixture of flour and chicken broth becomes a thick sauce with no magic required from you whatsoever. And the white wine and Smokey Plum Chipotle Sauce are super additions to the finished flavor. What do you know? Halloween just might turn into a food holiday, at least for me, after all.
HALLOWEEN CHICKEN & SWEET POTATO POT PIE
We think you’ll really like the extra sweetness heat our sauce brings to this otherwise delightfully traditional American classic. Classic except for the angry-looking Jack o’ Lantern carved into the crust on top, that is. What we predict is that you’ll adopt this as your House Pot Pie, make it with different of our sauces as the mood strikes you – and carve the pumpkin face only when seasonally appropriate.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cubes
1 onion, chopped
Salt and black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
Boneless meat of 1 rotisserie chicken, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup white wine
½ jar Fischer & Fischer’s Smokey Plum Chipotle Sauce
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and lightly caramelize the sweet potato and onion, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the flour and stir until it forms a thick, smooth paste with the oil around the vegetables. Cook until bubbly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken. Add the broth, white wine, Smokey Plum and parsley, stirring to incorporate into a thickened sauce. Using a knife or Halloween cookie cutter, cut out puff pastry pumpkin shapes that fit your ramekins. Cut out eyes, nose and mouth in triangles. Divide the chicken mixture among 8 ramekins, topping each with a puff pastry Jack o’ Lantern. Brush the pastry with egg and set ramekins on a baking pan with sides. Bake in oven until golden brown, 12-14 minutes. Finish under the broiler, if desired. Serve hot. Serves 8.