Monday, March 7, 2011
Chicken Pot Pie
Rainy days are for comfort foods. Foods that make you feel warm inside, that make you want to curl up and fall asleep to the sound of raindrops. Foods that are rich, satisfying, and make you close your eyes and smile.
Since rainy days are scarce in San Diego, I rarely have the appropriate atmosphere to make my favorite comfort foods (something about eating stew on a warm sunny day just isn't right, don't you think?). So when the weather does cool off and stormy weather moves in, I make sure comfort food is on the dinner menu.
Chicken pot pie is probably my favorite of all. It's everything you could ever hope for in a comforting meal: warm, hearty, and absolutely delicious. Plus you can make them in their own individual ramekins so the pot pie is all yours. When you break through the flaky crust of your pot pie, piping hot from the oven, you're met with a luxurious, creamy sauce brimming with sweet bright vegetables, flakes aromatic herbs, and big chunks of moist chicken. And when you let the crust soak a little bit in the sauce? Hooohh man, it's good. I mean really good.
I adapted my recipe from Ina Garten because, let's be real, who does comfort food better than Ina? You can find the original recipe here. I used left over roast chicken instead of roasting chicken breasts specifically for this recipe. Either works I suppose so long as you have about 4 to 6 cups of chicken (I fell a little short). I also made a few changes, including reducing the amount of butter (a stick and a half?! Really Ina?), adding fresh thyme, and a splash of cognac. Doesn't that sound irresistable? So go ahead. Enjoy a rainy day right -- with this chicken pot pie on your plate.
Chicken Pot Pie
Adapted from Ina Garten
Makes between 4 and 6 individual pot pies*
For pie filling
4-6 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed
5 cups chicken stock
2 chicken boullion cubes
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter**
2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
2 cups medium-diced carrots
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup half and half or cream
2 tablespoons congac
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (2 cups)
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pastry
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 pound cold salted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper
1. Prepare the pastry. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, mix flour and baking powder. Add shortening and butter and pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, slowly add ice water until the dough just comes together. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead it gently until it forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place int he refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat chicken stock in a small saucepan. Stir in bouillon cubes until dissolved. In a large heavy bottom pot, melt butter over medium heat. Saute the onions until translucent, 5-10 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Add flour and cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add congac and cook for 1 minute. Add hot chicken stock. Simmer over low heat for a few minutes, until thick. Add cubed chicken, peas, parsley, and thyme.
3. Divide pie pastry into 4 equal parts. Roll out each part on a floured surface into a circle about 1/4 inch thick.
4. Divide pie filling into 4 ramekins or ovenproof bowls. Place a piece of dough over each bowl and trim the dough so that it is 1/2 inch larger than the top of the bowl. Reserve extra pastry for additional pies. Crimp the dough over the bowl, brush the tops with egg wash, and make three slits on the top of the pies. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
5. Place on a baking sheet and bake for one hour, until crust is golden and the filling is bubbling hot. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes and enjoy.
*I largely followed the proportions of Ina's recipe, which claims to make 4 pot pies, and came out with 6. A lot of it depends on the size of the ovenproof bowls you use. I wrote the recipe as making 4 pot pies, but if you have extra filling, just use the excess pastry dough you trimmed off the edges and make more. They are also freezable!
**Warning, these were still VERY rich. I think if, who am I kidding, when I make them again I'll cut down on the butter even more, maybe 3/4 or even 1/2 a stick.