Ask A Connecticut Expert: Your Top Thanksgiving Pie Recipe

Ask A Connecticut Expert: Your Top Thanksgiving Pie Recipe

Audrey Leary loves pie. That is a good thing, because she is the head baker and co-owner of the Blackberry River Baking Company, which is situated in Canaan, a little farming town in the Northwest Hills that is literally on the Massachusetts border. This gateway to the Berkshires offers much in the way of local produce, and Audrey and her husband Sam, along with her assistant baker Nicole Beattie and their head chef Johannes Devries, make the most of their location to draw upon local tastes and resources. Audrey has also brought an upscale, urban touch to the little rural community family bakery she and her husband bought two years ago. Her years of study and work in New York City as a caterer and top baker at The Annex and Baked are evident in her creations, which are anything but traditional. Here are three of her favorite Thanksgiving pie recipes, each of which is a special treat for those who want something out of the ordinary for the holiday dessert – or meal.

blackberry river Ask A Connecticut Expert: Your Top Thanksgiving Pie Recipe

Blackberry River Baking Co. (Courtesy of Audrey Leary)

Audrey Leary
Head Baker
Blackberry River Baking Co.
18 E. Main St.
Canaan, CT 06018
(860) 824-8275
www.blackberryriver.com

chicken pot pie Ask A Connecticut Expert: Your Top Thanksgiving Pie Recipe

Chicken Pot Pie (Courtesy of Audrey Leary)


Audrey Leary’s Chicken Pot Pie

Not everyone wants turkey at Thanksgiving, especially if they are going to have it again at Christmas, or if they just don’t want to go through the work and hassle of a big turkey feast. Chicken pot pie is an easy, simple, filling and tasty alternative to the big bird – or can be made in advance for the “other meal” of that day (or for later in the weekend for those who want something besides turkey leftovers).

Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 T butter
  • 4 ears steamed corn, kernels cut off the cob 
  • 2 potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • one carrot, peeled (or scrubbed) and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1.5 – 2 cups cooked chicken, torn into bite-sized pieces*
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup (or more) chicken broth
  • 1 – 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • 1 T thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough

*If you don’t have already-cooked chicken – again, I made this up mostly as a way to use up leftovers – you can use a breast or two, cut up into smaller pieces, and added in with the potatoes and carrots and cooked until done.

Directions:

Turn the oven to 375 degrees F. Melt butter in a large pan with high sides; turn heat to medium high and add onion. Sauté until it turns transparent, and then add the flour. Stir until flour is browned, then slowly add about half the chicken broth, stirring as you go, so it creates a thick gravy. Add almost the rest of the broth, then add the potatoes and carrots. Add cream – enough to nearly cover the veggies – and cover the pan. Uncover and stir occasionally, checking on the vegetables and ensuring nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan – if the veggies start to stick, add a bit more chicken broth to release them. Once the potatoes and carrots are cooked, remove from heat; the sauce should be good and thick, and everything inside cooked until soft.

Stir in corn, thyme and chicken and dump it all into a casserole dish. Salt and pepper. Cover the top with the puff pastry, tucking the corners in. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until the puff pastry has totally puffed up and is golden all the way through. Stick a sheet pan underneath while baking, just in case Let it cool for 5-10 minutes and then enjoy!

Related: 
Top Pumpkin Dishes In Connecticut 

Blackberry River Company Blackberry Pear Pie

Of course, a bakery named the Blackberry River Company would have at least one pie that uses blackberries!

Pie Crust:

  • 1.25 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (with a little extra set aside for dusting) 
  • 1/2 tsp of salt 
  • 1 T granulated sugar 
  • 4 T unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces 
  • 3 T of vegetable shortening, chilled 
  • 4-5 T ice water  

Ingredients:

  • 1 c fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 4 pears, cleaned and sliced
  • 1/4 cup instant tapioca
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • splash of vanilla
  • 3 T cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom 1
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg, for wash sugar in the raw

Directions:
 
Make a double batch of pie dough; let chill. Mix all pie ingredients together and dump into a rolled-out pie crust. Top with second crust, cut slits for ventilation, brush with egg and top with sugar in the raw. Bake at 350 degrees F until well browned all over.

Audrey’s Pecan Pie

Pecan pie is one of the sweetest pies out there – sweet enough to satisfy even the sweetest sweet tooth. Serve this for Thanksgiving alongside or instead of a traditional apple or pumpkin pie, and see which pie plate is emptied first. Use the pie crust recipe above.

For the filling:

  • 75 grams sugar
  • 75 grams dark brown sugar
  • 150 grams maple syrup
  • 165 g dark corn syrup
  • 55 g butter, browned in the oven
  • 3 eggs
  • splash vanilla splash almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves sea salt

Directions:

Mix sugars, maple syrup, corn syrup, eggs and extracts together; let butter cool, then whisk it in. Pour into prepared pie shell and dump pecans in; press them into mixture so they’re covered, then sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-45 minutes, until the middle has set.

Related: Top Apple Pie In Connecticut

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.