Friday, December 10, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie - serves 6 unless you eat the whole thing yourself

I am a healthy eater.  Almost so much that my husband rolls his eyes at what I eat (umibushi plums), the things I make him try (kale shakes) and the things I make him omit from his diet (meat once or twice a week opposed to 14).  All of which he's catching on quite well.  If he wants to eat in this house, he'll have to endure a healthy eating lifestyle.

Until I make chicken pot pie.  Words can not express the goodness in this dish.  It's one of those meals that as you take a bite, you're immediately taken back to your childhood when you were served it the first time.  As for me, I have fond memories of my parents going out to dinner on Saturday nights, leaving my sister and I with Swanson's Pot Pies.  Then, they were a mystical meal that I would take my time eating, saving the crust around the metal foil pan for last.  I could make a pie last during the entire episode of Love Boat and Fantasy Island.  Saturday night out for the parents was the highlight of my week.  I knew I'd get a pie or a Night Hawk Chopped Steak TV Dinner with tater tots.  (You know who you are and don't be ashamed that you liked it also.)

Now, back to reality.  I wouldn't touch that stuff to save my life (well, maybe).  But, I can damn sure make one to match that's a tad healthier.  If only I could watch Love Boat and Fantasy Island, it'd be, once again, a Friday night favorite. (And what goes better with pie than kale?)


First the creamed chicken or turkey, then the pot pie.  For creamed chicken or turkey:

3½ lbs organic chicken parts, or 1½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breast or turkey breast cutlets or tenders
1¾ to 2 cups organic stock
4 Tbs (½ stick) unsalted organic flour
1/2 cup all purpose
1½ cups organic whole milk, half&half, or light cream (I use cashew cream)
2-3 Tbs sherry (optional)
several drops lemon juice, salt and ground white or black pepper
2-3 pinches freshly grated nutmeg

For Pot Pie:

2 Tbs organic butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled sliced ¼ inch
2 small celery stalks, sliced ¼ inch thick
¾ cup frozen organic peas, thawed
3 Tbs minced fresh parsley
1 beaten egg
1 Immaculate  Baking Company Pie Crust (Central Market or Whole Foods)

Creamed Chicken:
Place the chicken in a dutch oven and add chicken stock and just enough water to cover the pieces. Chicken parts may need as much as 3 cups and boneless skinless pieces may not need any. Bring to simmer over high heat, then reduce to simmer so the poaching liquid barely bubbles. Partially cover and cook until the meat releases clear juices when pierced with a fork, 25-30 minutes for chicken parts, 8-12 minutes for boneless, skinless breasts. Remove the meat from the stock and let stand until cool enough to handle. If using chicken parts, remove and discard skin and bones. Shred or cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Skim the fat from the stock with a spoon.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, and whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Add 2 cups of the chicken stock and whisk until smooth. Whisk in cream (or half&half etc.)

Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture just to a simmer, whisking constantly. Remove the pan from the heat, scrape the inside of the pan with a wooden spoon and whisk vigorously to break up any lumps. Return the pan to heat and, whisking, bring to a simmer and cook for one minute. Stir in the cooked poultry along with sherry and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and season with salt & pepper, lemon juice and nutmeg.

Pot Pie:

This pot pie has a top crust only using pie pastry. Sauteing the vegetables separately instead of cooking them with the chicken ensures that they will retain their texture and color.

Prepare (using ½ cup flour) creamed chicken.  Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°. Butter a 13x9 inch baking pan or other shallow baking dish. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the foam begins to subside. Add onion, carrots, celery and cook, stirring often, until barely tender, about 5 minutes.Stir the veggies into the creamed chicken along with the peas and parsley.  Pour the chicken mixture into the prepared pan. Arrange pre-bought pie dough (you'll need both, trimming excess). For a golden glaze, brush the top with egg. Bake until chicken is bubbly and the topping is nicely browned, 25-35 minutes.

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