Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

While today dawned sunny and bright, yesterday was anything but:

It was dreary, rainy, and the kind of day where you find yourself casting around for something, anything to do indoors to keep your mind off the fact that it was so yucky outside.

In other words, it was the perfect day to cook; especially something like comfort food. 

And what could be better than some chicken pot pie? I dug out this recipe from Anne Burrell and set to work. Now I realize I could have searched out something that could be made in the slow cooker, but quite frankly, I needed some quality bonding time with my stove. This dish was the perfect solution.

The first thing that needed to be done was to make the pastry for the pot pies.

First I cut up a stick of butter and 8 ounces of cream cheese.

That got added to the 1 1/2 cups of flour and a pinch of salt standing by in the food processor.

Everything got pulsed together until the dough started coming together. I added a couple of tablespoons of cold water and one egg yolk, and pulsed some more.

The dough got turned out on some flour, was kneaded briefly and formed into a ball.

I covered it with plastic wrap and popped it into the fridge until I was ready to use it later in the day.

Next it was time to work on the pot pie filling. The recipe calls for chicken legs and thighs, but I used only thighs because...well, I could, and I think they taste better than legs. But hey, use whatever parts of the chicken that float your boat.

Then it was on to prepping the veggies.

Carrots, onions, and celery all got a good chop, and some garlic was minced too.

All but the garlic was tossed into a large pot, seasoned with some salt, and left to saute over medium heat for about 7 minutes.

The house was starting to smell wonderful. 

Once the veggies had softened, I added the garlic and let that do its thing for a couple of minutes. Then I nestled the thighs on top and poured some chicken stock, which I had made the day before, over everything.

The stock was brought up to a boil, then reduced to a simmer and was left to bubble gently away for 30 minutes.

At this point in Anne's recipe, it calls to roast off some butternut squash. However, I gave this step a pass because (a) we're not particularly fond of butternut squash, and (b) there wasn't any at the market even if we did like it. That being said, I have roasted off potatoes to add when making this dish before and it adds a nice component. But this time, I just skipped this element altogether.

Anyway, back to the chicken that had been simmering away. Now that it was done, I removed the chicken and veggies to separate bowls and set the stock aside.

When the chicken was cool enough to handle, I took the meat off the bones and added it into the veggie mixture. Now at this point, you're supposed to add some chopped haricots verts. And as lovely as those might be, I went with their pedestrian cousin, the regular old green bean.

Time now to make the gravy. I love gravy of just about any sort, but this one is one of my favorites.

Step One: make a roux.

After whisking together 4 tablespoons of melted butter and 4 tablespoons of flour, it was time for Step Two -- adding the reserved stock. This got ladled in a bit at a time, until everything was incorporated and smooth.

The gravy was brought up to a boil, then reduced to a simmer, and left to bubble away for about 20 minutes. You want to be sure to stir it on a regular basis, otherwise an icky film will develop on the top.

With the gravy done, I added the chicken/veggie mix into it and let it all warm together over low heat.

We're into the final stretch!

While the gravy was simmering away, I had removed the pastry dough from the fridge to let it come to room temperature.

As I was only going to be making two pot pies for this go round, I cut the dough in half and put the portion I didn't need back in the fridge. I'll use it later in the week when we have leftovers.

I rolled the dough out on a floured surface...

...and cut out two lids for the ramekins I was using for the filling. The edges of the ramekins got brushed with an egg wash, then the lids got put on top, some vents were made, and the lids were brushed with more of the egg wash.

The pot pies were popped into a pre-heated 375 degree oven and left to bake for about 30 minutes.

As far as I'm concerned, this is a nice warm hug in a bowl and the perfect thing to chase away the blues of a bunch of rainy days. As soon as you dip your fork or spoon into the crust, it flakes oh-so-nicely and bits get worked into the chicken and gravy. And the filling? Oh my. It's sooooo good. The dark meat of the thighs adds an element of richness to the gravy that makes you want to gobble it all up. Actually, the filling would stand fine all on its own as a stew, if you aren't inclined to make the pastry.

So the next time a batch of yucky weather comes your way, this might be something to try. In the meantime, we're back to having the kind of weather we love here in Belize -- blue skies, a great breeze, and lots of sun. Now if we could only do something about those pesky mosquitoes...

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