Willow Tree

Good Gravy! The Key Ingredient to Homemade Style Chicken Pie

When you think about what makes a “stick to your ribs” chicken pie so satisfying, usually flaky crust and big chunks of chicken come to mind. But one key ingredient that is strong enough to stand on its own – the ingredient that really makes “the difference” — is the gravy!  

Wholesome Recipe

According to Willow Tree Farm President, Wally Cekala, “We do make a ‘from scratch’ gravy – using a rue to thicken it. It’s really old fashioned.” Willow Tree gravy has been a complimentary ingredient to chicken pies since 1954, but more recently fresh, ready-to-eat gravy, has become available in both chicken and turkey varieties. And it’s been very well-received.

Willow Tree cooks over 25,000 pounds of chicken per day, on the bone, providing a lot of broth from which to make fresh gravy. If a company doesn’t have this kind of cooking operation, they might have to turn to packaged gravy mix, and the results simply don’t taste homemade. 

Photo courtesy of Michelle Levine

Food blogger Michelle Levine, who recently reviewed Willow Tree’s Chicken Pie with Classic Vegetables, described it very accurately. Instead of just mentioning gravy in the filling as such, she described, “The filling of the pie has the veggies and chicken broth, thickened up with flour and flavored with margarine, onion powder, and salt to name a few ingredients.”

 Holiday Life-Saver

Ask anyone who is responsible for holiday cooking and they’ll tell you that gravy is highly-anticipated by guests, but it’s very stressful to make. It has to be put together at the last minute, only when poultry drippings are ready, and it’s almost impossible to make the same way twice. You can master it one time, and mess it up the next. You never know what you’re going to get. But Willow Tree gravy gives folks the peace of mind of having perfect gravy ready on the spot. 

We really appreciate when customers post quotes like this on our Facebook or Twitter pages. We tend to see a lot of this around the holidays: 

“Where have you been all my life?? I just bought your Turkey Gravy and it is the BEST ever! Sensational!” 


“Because it’s usually sold in the ‘ready-to-eat’ section of many New England grocery chains such as BigY, DeMoulas, and Stop & Shop, customers tend to use it on anything they want, not just chicken.”

– Wally Cekala, President, Willow Tree Farm


A Warm Reception from Food Bloggers 

“My favorite pie of the three, is Chicken Pie with Red Bliss Potatoes! The perfect size potatoes are baked to perfection and covered in creamy gravy. It feels like velvet in your mouth.”

– Marla from SavingUGreen.blogspot.com 

“I served it alongside white rice on a plate but next time would love it piled on top of the rice in a bowl instead, so I can scoop up every last drop of the creamy warm treat! It’s the perfect staple to stock in your freezer for a hearty meal, any time of day, when you don’t want to cook or venture out in the cold weather.”

– Michelle from EatAndSipintheCity.wordpress.com 

If you don’t see Willow Tree gravy in any of these grocery chains, please ask a store associate for assistance.

Looking for Better Chicken Options? Take a Closer Look

Stroll down the frozen food aisle of your local supermarket and you’ll notice that there are virtually dozens of different chicken products available today. From kid-friendly foods such as chicken nuggets to sweet and spicy Mediterranean dinners, chicken has always been, and will continue to be, a “center of the plate” item for generations the world over. 

Why? First of all, it’s so versatile and plentiful. But did you know that chicken, as we know it, can be processed in different ways even before making its way into your favorite prepared food?


Formed Chicken – the Fun Factor Trumps Nutrition 

It’s true, kids love chicken nuggets. Their fun shapes have eye appeal, making for a fast, easy lunch with virtually no fuss. It’s an American staple. These various shapes, and even the ol’ standard oval nugget, are made through the use of special flake-and-form machinery. Various types of chicken meat are finely ground and pressed or mixed with emulsifiers and bonding ingredients (corn starch, extracted proteins, etc.) to stay together when formed  hence the  dinosaur nugget. Fun, easy and fast? Yes. But from a nutritional perspective, not your best bet. 

Injected Chicken – Plump up the Volume 

There are other prepared foods which contain processed chicken as well. Some chicken pies and meals, usually of the cheaper variety, are privy to chunked or cubed chicken meat which has been highly processed and/or injected with a solution. This ‘solution’ can be anything from salt orsugar to preservatives and binding agents to ‘plump up’ the product and add flavor. In every case, you are paying for more solution (can be 10% weight or more) and less chicken.

Tip: If you ever taste salty chicken meat, even in your chicken and turkey deli meats, ask if the product is a ‘whole-cut’, which is exactly as it sounds. Otherwise, you may be getting a lesser quality, formed or injected product.

Willow Tree’s Commitment to Freshness

True to its all-American history dating back to the 1950’s, Willow Tree takes a wholesome approach to preparing high-quality poultry products. Our chicken and turkey pie crusts contain zero trans fats, and we use some of the finest poultry the east coast has to offer – which you’ll see in large pieces throughout our pies. Our goal is to make each aspect of our product taste like you spent hours in your kitchen preparing it from scratch: the flaky crust, the tender chicken, and the savory gravy too. According to one mom blogger who recently reviewed our pies, “Willow Tree Farm Chicken Pies are the closest I have found to replicate the time and care my Grandma used to put into her homemade chicken pies!”