Friday, September 21, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

You know the tastes of your family by the weekly or monthly rotation of foods that you cook and present at the dinner table. This concept could work the other way around too. You could actually influence those tastes by what you put on that same table each night, forcing about a sole favorite or multiple well-favored meals.

Indian food tops a fixed dinner rotation in our house with a whopping 4 dish per week spin, leaving the remaining days for either experimental culinary ventures and/or ambitious blogging projects, perhaps figuring in a spread from a preferred list of sumptuous repasts. Not forgetting the regular, much needed weekend nights out.

It is on that roll, that my children wax lyrical of chicken pot pie and lobby to add it into our regular cycle, so it would make for 4 IM's (Indian meals) + 1 day pot pie, thereby decreeing it a definite part of the weekly home menu.

I'll admit, though that I hold a strong infatuation towards it too. So if you asked the question, maybe  4 years ago of whether I'd ever tried my hand at chicken pot pie , the answer most definitely would not have been "yes".

Honestly, I don't know why it had taken me so long to learn such a really nice thing. Owe it to extreme intimidation leveled in with  some slight trepidation.

As you probably know there is more than one right way to nail pot pie. I stumbled through hundreds, trying and never really liking. Chicken, vegetables, white sauce- no, none of that daunts me. It's the pastry that makes me buckle. That after all the roasting, mixing, and white sauce stirring, which actually is quite a breeze, I'd have to pull together an all dough pie crust. I wasn't going to sweat over pastry dough after what I thought was the culmination of a dish well done. All I needed was to surface the whole thing. And so, for the first few years, I proceeded to top my pot pies with bread, which worked, until the whole bread boat would sink mid- bake in the oven.

Then, one day I came to know the multipurpose use of puff pastry, which could be a tastier and, of course, easier option in topping those pot pies, courtesy the loyal freezers of my local grocery. And how easy it became,  this lipsmacking savory tart glutted with moist elements, swimming together in a saucy smother of creamy bechamel. Top this luscious medley with the crispy puff pastry, and you have a dish done right,  effortless and extraordinarily satisfying.

Easy as pie, it is indeed. Chicken breasts, roasted to juicy, just rightly seasoned perfection and soft vegetables, blend beautifully, bite by bite with the buttery flaked dough, commanding every second of your tastebuds' attention. A properly vented crust, allows for the slight oozing of gravy to creep atop flaky crevices, and here the gorgeous factor plays into the scene, so, so well.

Swelled to golden beauteousness, it is the show stopper of all comfort foods. Four mini pots of awesomeness will wow even the most picky eaters. Though, when serving all of four, I strongly urge you to double or possibly quadruple your ingredients since you absolutely, positively might go about tucking in more than your fair share of pie.

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 2 tsp cayenne or paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1- 1 ½ lbs)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 ½ c frozen carrot coins or diced
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne 
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ c all purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ c low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ c milk (full fat)
  • ½ c heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt or enough to flavor
  • 1 c frozen green peas
  • Puff pastry sheet, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375° F.
  • Place 1 tablespoon vegetable oil into a greased baking pan and combine into it cayenne, garlic powder thyme and salt. Coat chicken breasts in the spice mixture. Loosely cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until done. When cooled, shred or piece with knife into bite size pieces. Set aside.
  • In a large deep skillet on medium- high, heat the remaining tablespoon vegetable oil. Add the onions, carrots, celery
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and vegetables have softened, about 2-3 minutes. 
  • Stir in garlic and cayenne.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add the butter and melt. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the chicken broth, milk and cream. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. 
  • Add pepper and salt.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle in peas and reserved chicken. 
  • Unfold thawed pastry sheet and gently roll out with a rolling pin.
  • Cut the sheets into four squares or circles large enough to cover the tops of six bowls.
  • Divide the chicken mixture equally among the four  bowls. 
  • Place a pastry square over the top of each bowl, pressing down around the rim to secure.
  • Brush with the beaten egg.
  • Cut a small X on top of each pastry top with a knife to vent.
  • Put the bowls on a baking sheet and place in oven.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry puff is a uniform golden brown and completely done.
  • Allow to rest a few minutes before serving.
Sidenotes:

Simplify and make a giant pot of chicken pie using the whole pastry sheet for cover.

Don't throw away those leftovers! Make pot pies with turkey and ham, even curry meat -it's all good under the pastry hood.

Veggie possibilities are endless. Cauliflower, mushrooms, and hearty potatoes can make for a very versatile pie.



My first born who was delivered with a fiery Indian palate, absolutely claims this pot pie as her second favorite meal.


I just wanted to end on quite a different note. About a couple of weeks ago, when travelling in our minivan through unknown lands, we encountered a flooded road and instead of making the smart choice of turning around, JZ attempted to drive through the wash, heading on to the side end of the road. With that, our vehicle, with us in it, settled tire deep, not only in water but swampy, impassable mud. The tail end of our car couldn't be seen and there was no way to steer it to dry ground. A few minutes went by, when 2 passerby pickups stopped just ahead, got out of their trucks to enquire on what happened. One truck had in it a family of five, where the children jumped out to help their dad and the other driver, aid us in guiding our sizable vehicle out of the deep water and mud. In the sizzling triple digit heat, with combined effort, they were able to pull our sinking vehicle from the thick sludge and onto dry road. Not only did these people bring us through a situation we never would've been able to get out of on our own, but they saved us from a fairly large State fine imposed on violating the Stupid Motorist Law .

When we offered to do something for them in return, the answer from one went something like this, "Remember just to make sure you turn around and do the same for someone else, one day." And for certain, we will, kind sir.

Although I am quite sure they will never read this, I felt the need to thank all those wonderful folk. We were swept off our feet by their bigheartedness, in it experiencing the loving goodness of a great God, through those obliging hands and feet.

"Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10 (NLT)


We will ever be grateful for you, sweet Samaritans, being our blessing and grace on that hot September day. May the Lord watch and keep over you, mightily blessing you all, through and through. 

******

9 comments:

  1. lots of recipes here to catch up Tisa.. this looks great... and I would love to try.. beautiful pictures too.. great to know you had some nice people to help you in trouble.. take care

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    1. Thank you so much Reshmi, yes, they were too kind. You take care!

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  2. A great recipe my friend, there are tons of vege options flitting through my head :D
    LOVE your story, I cannot believe you were in such a predicament! Those people were like Angels sent just for you :) - its nice to know that even today they are still around!
    Hope you are all ok now!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    Replies
    1. Thank you musch, sweet Uru. I'm sure you can do wonders with this dish! So true right, angels indeed.

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  3. GORGEOUS pot pie! Love this - looks super comforting and delicious.

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  4. Wow..this looks delicious! I have been wanting to try baking pies but never got to it! This one sure seems simple yet delicious to try :)! God is our helper indeed! He does send his angels in times of trouble! I am a witness too...He had sent such an angel to save me, when I was in deep trouble one day! I dont know where I would be today if he had not :D

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!