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Friday Night Comfort Food: Chicken Pot Pie

28 May

In the infamous words of the lovely Chef Carla Hall, “I’ve been thinking about chicken pot pie all week!”

I can’t tell you the last time I had chicken pot pie, and no, I’ve never made one before yesterday. But soon after Chef Hall whipped up a might tasty looking one on Top Chef, I saw Alton Brown make his version on an episode of Good Eats. Ever since, it’s been calling to me like a siren. Juicy chicken and savory vegetables in a creamy, rich gravy tucked away beneath a buttery crispy crust. Yes, please.

There are things about traditional pot pie of which I’m not a big fan. As much as I love chicken and potatoes together, I think there’s enough starch in the crust and gravy to suffice. Secondly, I cannot stand cooked peas. Maybe lightly steamed and shocked in ice water, but otherwise, no thank you ma’am. What I needed was a different green vegetable for both color and deliciousness, some earthiness, and something special to kick up that gravy. No sad, gray gravy here.

Let’s begin! Here’s what you’ll need

Filling

  • 1.25 lb. chicken breast, diced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 5-6 cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 tbsp. dry sherry
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig parsley, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Crust

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 oz. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2-3 tbsp. ice water
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water)

First, prep the crust. I used a pretty basic pate brisee for this. Just combine the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and then slowly add in the butter and process using short pulses. The resulting texture should be sandy.

Add 2 tbsp. of ice water and process just until the dough will hold together when pinched between your fingers. Add more water only if necessary and then roll the dough into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour. If you do this in advance, take the dough out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before rolling it out.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the diced chicken with a little bit of olive oil and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and then brown the pieces in a large pan.

In a separate pan, warm the milk and chicken stock together over low heat.

Add a small amount of oil to the same pan and sautee the onions, garlic, zucchini, carrots, and mushrooms just until they release their juices. Add the sherry and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Add the butter, allow it to melt and then mix in the 3 tbsp. of flour. Slowly whisk in the milk/chicken stock mixture and then add the parsley, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the mixture reduces and thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the chicken.

Pour the filling into a shallow baking dish. This 2 quart oval casserole dish was just the right size. A deep dish pie pan or 8 x 8 in. baking dish would probably work as well.

Roll out the pie dough to the shape of your cooking vessel, only slightly larger so that there is some overhang. Cover the filling and crimp the crust along the edges of the baking dish to secure. Cut some vents in the crust to let out steam, and then brush it with the egg wash.

Bake the pot pie for 30-35 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown

Allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes before digging in. Eat and be comforted.

Hope you all have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Ciao for now,

Neen

Clean BBQ? It’s True…

28 May

When Joe and I decided to have folks over for Memorial Day this year, I decided that I wasn’t going to prepare a bunch of food that I couldn’t eat. For one thing, I knew that there would be leftovers and I wasn’t tossing away my grocery money on food that wasn’t in my plan. Furthermore, I thought my guests deserved food and not “food-like products.”

Here I am hanging out with Mr. Stripey ready to grill, so what was on the (mostly) clean menu?

Clean Eating Magazine’s Caramelized Onion, Spinach, and Artichoke Dip served with Trader Joe’s natural corn tortilla chips, chopped carrots, toasted whole grain bread, and sugar snap peas (from Westmoreland Berry Farm—so delicious!).

Dry rubbed chicken legs grilled to perfection and then glazed with a natural BBQ sauce.

Grilled portabella mushrooms, green peppers, and tomatoes tossed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, kosher salt, lemon-thyme, pepper, and garlic.

Not pictured: Dry rubbed smoked spare ribs that I had hanging out in our freezer for awhile. I was saving them for a special occasion. I warmed them over low heat in the crock pot for a few hours with a bit of cider vinegar and sucanat in the bottom. It made its own sauce and tasted absolutely fantastic!

Chocolate sour cream cupcakes, modified from Clean Eating’s recipe. I replaced the skim milk with unsweetened chocolate almond milk the second time I made these and never looked back. Best chocolate dessert ever.

I also made classic and in no way clean vanilla ice cream using the base for Cliff’s ice cream recipe from the Top Chef cookbook. It was some really great stuff. I used heavy cream and milk that was practically fresh from the dairy and the rest of the eggs that I gathered from the farm. Joe is still savoring the final container of it.

Sunday evening I realized that my berries from Westmoreland were on the verge of over ripening. Not wanting to let them go to waste and having cold/sweet stuff on the brain, I made some frozen yogurt. That vanilla ice cream might be decadent, but this stuff is sweet, tangy, cool, and 94 calories a serving.

Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

2 cups good quality low-fat plain yogurt (I buy mine from Blue Ridge Dairy Co.)

1 cup pureed fresh strawberries

1/3 cup raw, natural honey

Pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and then chill in a lidded container in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. This really improves the texture and flavor quality of the final product, so don’t skip the rest period!

Churn for approximately 25 minutes in a countertop electric ice cream maker and then transfer to a lidded container and freeze for at least 3 hours before serving. On his show Good Eats, Alton Brown often says, “Your patience will be rewarded.” Listen to these wise words.

(Makes 6 servings)

I really would have taken a picture of it’s awesome pink color, but it didn’t last long enough! I guess I’ll just have to make it again soon…

Stay local!

-Neen