Monday, July 25, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

It's a humble thing, chicken pot pie.  As a kid, I immediately decided I didn't like it because of the way it looked.  It was one of those foods, like biscuits and gravy that my Dad always ordered (I mean, who doesn't like biscuits and gravy????? Of course I'm obsessed now.) that fell into the "ewwwww" category because of the unidentifiable chunks of meat suspended in a white gelatinous goo.  Somehow I was never afraid of caviar... maybe it was the copious amounts of creme fraiche I plopped onto blini.  Anyway.

I've since grown up (shhh, don't tell anyone), and my tastes have also grown up too.  But chicken pot pie was still never one of those food I loved.  Perhaps it was because I'd really only ever been acquainted with the Marie Callender version via the frozen food section of my grocery store.  And while yummy, I usually would just eat the crust and vegetables and pick around the chicken.  My husband, however, has always been a fan of chicken pot pie, and so I decided to make him a special treat.  I turned to Miss Martha, no not Stewart, the one of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea fame, because by now I trust her.  She knows what she's talking--and cooking--about.

I had a weird work schedule yesterday, I worked from 8-10 and then again from 3-8:30, so I thought I had plenty of time to put together the dish.  And I did, just by the skin of my teeth.  I had just enough time to pop it in the oven and head over to work.  The family got to taste it fresh out of the oven, and it got RAVE reviews.  When I got home that evening it was delicious cold out of the fridge.  The kid opted for buttered noodles...maybe I should offer him some caviar?

I went ahead and made the pie crust dough for this recipe (which turned out divine), but if you're pressed for time I don't see why you couldn't use pre-made dough.

This recipe is certainly a labor of love, especially if you make the pie dough, but it is well worth your time!

Chicken Pot Pie & Versatile Pie Crust Dough from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose
(only slightly adapted)

Make the Pie Crust Dough

2 cups all purpose flour  --  I used White Lily Flour, which I think is an entire blog post on it's own
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 vegetable shortening, chilled and pinched into small pieces
cup of ice water handy

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt and sugar.  Add the butter and shortening and toss to coat with flour.  Using your fingers, work the butter and shortening into the flour until it's combined and your butter and shortening is no bigger than the size of a pea.  Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the ice water over the dough and mix with a fork to combine.  If its a little dry, keep sprinkling water with your fingers until it's a scraggy dough.

Form the dough into a ball.  Break off pieces of dough about the size of an egg and using the heel of your hand-- pushing away from you--schmear them onto your (clean) work surface.  When you've schmeared all the dough, gather it back together into a ball.  Put it between some saran wrap and pat it into a disk.  Place it into the fridge to chill while you put together the pot pie.

Chicken Pot Pie
(Adapted from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea)

2 cups chicken broth
2 celery stalked chopped
2 medium carrots chopped
3 small yukon gold potatoes, diced
Half a medium yellow onion diced
1 large bone-in chicken breast with ribs, skin removed (mine was about 16 oz)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (you could totally use frozen)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon poultry or all purpose seasoning
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing the crust

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth, celery, carrot, potato and onions to boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and add the chicken.  Simmer for 20 minutes (just enough time to put the kid down for his nap), until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken to a dish to cool.  Strain the broth, reserving the vegetables.  Return the broth to heat and simmer over medium-high heat to reduce to 1 cup.  I was very excited, as I reduced it exactly 1 cup!

While the broth is reducing, separate the chicken from the bones, shredding into bite-sized pieces.  Combine the chicken, reserved vegetables, peas and corn.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Sprinkle in the flour and seasoning, and whisk to combine.  Keep whisking, whisking for about two minutes, until golden.  Add the reduced broth slowly.  Keep whisking!  Whisk in the cream.  Pause to try and take artistic shot.  Add the chicken and vegetables.  Stir to combine.  Set aside to cool.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Take out the pie crust and roll out about 1/4 inch thick.  Now, the recipe calls for two 10-ounce oven proof dishes, but we only had one 7 1/2 x 9 inch pyrex dish, so that's what I used.  Okay, so roll out your dough so it's slightly larger than your baking dish.  I put my dish right on the dough, and then cut about an inch larger.  Press the dough into your baking dish, making sure it come up the sides, too.  Gather up the scraps and roll those out to form the top crust.

Spoon the filling into the dish.  Top with the other crust, and press the edges to seal.  Brush the top with a little cream.  Cut slits into top crust help steam escape.  Decorate tops with extra dough if you have any...perhaps your initial?

Place pot pie on baking sheet (just to catch any bubble-over), and slide into oven.  Zoom off to work.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.  Get picture from hubby of amazing looking pot pie.

Try not to burn your mouth diving in!

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