April 10, 2006

The Miracle Worker: Chicken Pot Pie

As the weather has turned a bit warmer, I have tried to take advantage of being outside in the sun and feeling all excited about Paris again, as one usually does come April. Alas, there's this little voice in the back of my head distracting me with mournful thoughts about never cooking that Tartiflette and wondering if it’s too late to indulge in fondue one last time? The season has perhaps ended, but I can’t help but feel a loss for meals gone by. Will I have to wait almost another year before I can indulge in a dinner of solely cheese and starch? Say it won’t be so. To delay the inevitable salad-eating season from enveloping me in a pit of despair (perhaps an exaggeration…) I made something last weekend that helped me feel better about things.

Paul and I have both been sick this past weekend but I’ve been a trooper and pushed through my hacking cough and snotty nose to prepare some great meals, if I may say so myself. I was a woman on a mission and couldn’t be distracted from my comfort food. After all, once I got it through my foggy, medicated brain that -- if I was going to eat some delicious home cookin', I would have to do it myself -- I was sufficiently motivated to get in the kitchen. I don’t care if it’s 55 degrees and sunny outside. I have a stuffy nose and we're gonna eat this chicken pot pie!

Chicken pot pie is one of those meals where I don’t want any surprises. I just might cry if I cracked the crust on a pot pie only to see the likes of broccoli or zucchini within. I like my pot pies à la façon de Swanson. A saucy chicken stew with the comfy combination of carrots, peas, potatoes, and onions baked under a puff pastry crust. I feel better already.

Chicken Pot Pie

Buy a roasted chicken, shred about 3 cups for this recipe
1 puff pastry crust (pâte feuilletée)
4 small Yukon gold or white potatoes, peeled and diced into ½-1 inch pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 small white onions, chopped
1/3 cup frozen green peas
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
3 cups good quality chicken broth
Splash of brandy or sherry
1/3 cup cream
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
½ tsp dried sage

Amounts are approximate. Here is the method:

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Sauté the onions, carrots, diced potatoes and dried sage for 5 minutes over medium heat. Cover the pot and let the veggies cook until tender, stirring frequently. The potatoes are done when a knife goes into them easily. You want all the vegetables fully cooked at this point. (You can boil the potatoes and/or carrots separately if you prefer them in larger pieces. I found it easier this time to just dice everything on the small side and sauté until fully cooked, stirring frequently and adding a little broth to keep it from sticking to the bottom.)

Sprinkle the flour over the veggies; stir and cook 2-3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the brandy or sherry, stirring to incorporate the flour, over medium heat. Add enough broth to achieve the desired gravy-like consistency and bring to a simmer. Stir in the shredded chicken and frozen peas. You want there to be gravy covering the chicken and veggies but not so much that it is swimming in it. Stir in the cream and fresh herbs. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed.

Pour this mixture into a greased 9-inch pie plate. Place the puff pastry crust over the top and fold in the edges, creasing and pressing it to the pan as you go. Use a fork to poke some holes in the crust before placing it in the oven to let some steam escape. (You can also use a regular pie crust.) Bake for about 30 minutes at 350-375 degrees F (180/190 degrees C). If you were a better planner than I, you could double the filling and freeze one portion for the next time you’re craving pot pie. Serves 6.

No comments: