Saturday, November 1, 2008
COMFORT FOOD AT ITS FINEST: CHICKEN POT PIE
I often turn the TV to the Food Channel when I'm flipping through magazines or doing some hand piecing or applique. That's how I came to be watching Tyler's Ultimate the day he did homemade chicken pot pie. When I was young, I loved those Swanson's things--mostly for the crust and the shiny tin that they came in. I could take or leave the filling. The first time I ordered chicken pot pie in the Amish country, I was shocked to discover that there was no crust, rather noodles, which the Amish call dumplings. It was rather like my first experience ordering lobster in Florida--"Where's the claws?" I cried to my waiter.
Although I knew there were shortcuts I could take with this recipe, I decided to do it completely from scratch this first time. It was definitely labor intensive, but definitely worth it as well.
Serves 4-6 (depending on size of container)
1 whole 3 lb chicken
1 gallon cool water
2 carrots, cut in 2-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 onion, halved
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
2 small parsnips, halved
thyme, rosemary, bay leaf
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 carrots, cut in 1/2 inch coins
1 bag frozen pearl onions
1 box frozen peas
1 box frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg mixed with 3 tbs water
To Make the Broth
Put the chicken in a large stockpot and cover with the water. Add the vegetables and hers and bring to a boil. Skim, then simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, skimming as necessary. Remove the chicken carefully to cool and continue to cook down the broth for another 15 minutes. Use a colander to strain the broth; discard the solids. You should have about 8 cups of broth. You will use HALF (4 cups) for the recipe. Freeze the rest.
To Make the Potpie
Wipe out the stockpot and put it on the stove over medium heat. Melt the butter, then whisk in the flour to make the roux, which acts as the thickener. Cook, whisking constantly, for about 4 minutes to get rid of the floury taste. Very, very, very slowly add the 4 cups of chicken broth, stirring constantly. This is a sauce veloute. Cook another 4-5 minutes in this manner, then add the chicken and vegetables* and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and remove from the heat.
Before adding veggies:
*defrost the peas
*blanch the onions for about 2 minutes, drain
*parboil the carrots for about 5 minutes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lay the thawed sheets (2) of puff pastry on a lightly floured, cool surface and invert the crocks you are using for the potpies (I made 2 large crocks and 3 mini pie tins) onto the puff pastry and trace a circle just slightly larger with the tip of a knife. Remove the circles carefully to a sheet of waxed paper or a cookie sheet.
Ladle the chicken stew into each crock/tin, filling to the top. Cap each crock/tin with a pastry circle, pressing the dough around the rim to form a seal. Do not cut steam vents.
Beat the egg with the water to make an egg wash and brush some on each pastry round. Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired.
Set the crocks on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the puff pastry is puffed and golden.