Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie: Or, Projects Not to Start at 6 pm After Spending All Day with Your Kid

Hey Ma-

Ok, so first off, the chicken pot pie I made was totally, totally delicious. G and I both think, though, that it wasn't quite as good as the ones you'd buy at the Otis Poultry Farm when we were growing up. G said that he thinks the difference is that (somehow!) their crusts were even thicker and I think he's right. Regardless, John and G both ate second helpings and I devoured what was on the plate before me.

This picture above is part of why I'd advise going about this whole project a little bit differently, though, should you choose to embark on it. I made a COLOSSAL mess (ok, there are two more pictures of my mess...I just couldn't stand to keep looking at it in its entirety and so I'm only posting the one). And, though actually a pretty simple recipe, it takes a lot of time. I had to make the dough and then cook the chicken and then the vegetables and then make the sauce and then...and then...well, you follow. Let's just say that by the end I was drinking wine straight from the bottle. And by the very end? It was very, very late. We all joked that at least we were eating the meal on the same day I'd started it.

The moral of the story, I guess, is this: Make chicken pot pie from scratch! Do it! It's good and it's satisfying. But start much, much earlier in the day...and maybe don't do it when you're starting out exhausted (as I was from hanging out with M all day). Oh, and keep a bottle of wine handy.


recipe from "The Best Recipe"

for dough
1 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tspn. salt
8 T. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 T. vegetable shortening, chilled

for pot pie
1 1/2 lb. chicken thigh, de-boned and de-skinned
2 c. homemade chicken broth
1 1/2 T. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise 1/4-inch thick
2 small celery stalks, cut crosswise 1/4-inch thick
4 T. unsalted butter
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 tspn. dried thyme
3 T. dry sherry
3/4 c. peas (I used fresh, but you can use frozen...I'll allow it (that's a joke...I'm never sure how well those translate here))
3 T. minced fresh parsley leaves

for dough
Mix flour and salt in workbowl of food processor fitted with the steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with a little of the flour. Cut butter into flour with five one-second pulses. Add shortening; continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, keeping some butter bits the size of small peas, about four more one-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice-cold water over the mixture. Using rubber spatula, fold water into flour mixture. Then press down on dough mixture with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more cold water if dough will not come together. Shape dough into ball, then flatten into 4-inch-wide disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes while preparing pie filling.

for pie filling
Adjust oven rack to low-center position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Put chicken and broth in small Dutch oven or soup kettle over medium heat. Cover, bring to simmer; simmer until chicken is just done, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer meat to large bowl, reserving broth in measuring cup. Increase heat to medium-high; heat oil in now-empty pan. Add onions, carrots, and celery; sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. While vegetables are sautéing, shred meat into bite-sized pieces. Transfer cooked vegetables to bowl with chicken; set aside. Heat butter over medium heat in again-empty skillet. When foaming subsides, add flour; cook about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken broth, milk, any accumulated chicken juices, and thyme. Bring to simmer, then continue to simmer until sauce fully thickens, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper; stir in sherry. Pour sauce over chicken mixture; stir to combine. Stir in peas and parsley. Adjust seasonings. (Can be covered and refrigerated overnight; reheat before topping with pastry.)

to assemble
Roll dough on floured surface to approximate 15-by-11-inch rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick. If making individual pies, roll dough 1/8-inch thick and cut 6 dough rounds about 1 inch larger than pan circumference. Pour chicken mixture into 13-by-9-inch pan or any shallow baking dish of similar size. Lay dough over pot pie filling, trimming dough to 1/2 inch of pan lip. Tuck overhanging dough back under itself so folded edge is flush with lip. Flute edges all around. Or don't trim dough and simply tuck overhanging dough into pan side. Cut at least four 1-inch vent holes in large pot pie or one 1-inch vent hole in smaller pies. Bake until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly, 30 minutes for large pies and 20 to 25 minutes for smaller pies. Serve hot.

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