Monday, November 17, 2008

Mavis Makes A Chicken Pot Pie

From Mavis Makes A Chicken Pot Pie

Stop what you're doing right now, write down the ingredients for this recipe, and go home and make yourself a pot pie. You will not regret it, unless you're the type to regret eating two helpings of chicken smothered in cream sauce and baked under a layer of delicious, buttery pie dough, in which case, I do not believe you are my demographic.

This recipe is from Cover and Bake, one of my two favorite cookbooks, and this one is edited by Cook's Illustrated. Not one recipe from this cookbook has disappointed me, even when I have failed to fully read the directions. It also contains the Test Kitchen's famous take on green bean casserole, which is good enough to make me want to fry my own onion rings. I don't really have a point now, just, I guess, you should own this cookbook, and die a happy, artery-clogged girl.

The Dough:
From Mavis Makes A Chicken Pot Pie

I truly failed in taking pictures for this dough making endeavor, I should have created some sort of make shift camera tripod and set the timer, because my technique was ineffectual, but kind of hilarious. I used the savory pie dough recipe in the book, but failed to use a food processor as is recommended. The cookbook did offer an alternative of freezing the butter and using a cheese grater. I did not discover the issue with this hint until I had started to prepare the dough. First of all, the hint only mentions the butter, not the shortening, so I'm not sure what the intention is there. I attempted to freeze the shortening, but did not allot enough time for it to get hard, so I just used a pastry blender. Second, I must be grater impaired, because I always have a quite substantial nub of whatever I'm grating left to protect my fingers from injuries. So I had to cut up quite a bit of the butter anyway. Third, the hint doesn't really say what should be done after grating the butter. In the end, I used my hands to incorporate the butter and water. This worked out quite well, but only because I only needed about half of the dough, so my mishaps in rolling out the dough were more than covered by the massive amounts of extra dough.

The Filling:
From Mavis Makes A Chicken Pot Pie

This recipe allowed me the opportunity to both poach chicken breasts and shred the meat for the first time. Poaching raw chicken in broth looks kind of gross (see delightful pictures of the pink and yellow color combination, followed by pasty white chicken floating amidst little globules of fat) but produces flavorful results. It also makes your home smell fantastic and unbelievably comforting. The very traditional vegetable choices, and thick sauce made with broth, flour, and milk are just fantastic. Despite all of the steps in this recipe, and my missteps with the dough, we had the whole recipe in the oven in under one and a half hours, with better time management, this just may be a near staple in our home. We chose to cook half of the filling in an 8 by 8 inch pan and save the other half for later. You can also bake individual pot pies in oven proof bowls.
From Mavis Makes A Chicken Pot Pie

The Final Verdict:
From Mavis Makes A Chicken Pot Pie

I am in love with cooking again, in no small part to recipes like this. I find Cook's Illustrated often makes me feel like I'm stretching a bit, and trying something new, but inevitably, their attention to detail helps me through. The final meal was unbelievable, the thyme and wine lent a very subtle sweetness and depth of flavor to the final product. The pie dough, despite my troubles, did not disappoint, it was flaky and tender, and seemed to melt in my mouth. My husband's verdict: "a big chicken and veggie blanket in your stomach" which does not sound complimentary, but I think he is trying to say that this is the ultimate comfort food.

Savory Pie Dough Topping (from Cover and Bake)
makes enough for 1 Pot-Pie Recipe
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
4 T. vegetable shortening (chilled)
8 T. unsalted butter (chilled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes)
3-5 T. ice water

Process the flour and salt in a food processor fit with the steel blade until combined. Add shortening and process until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand. Scatter the butter cubes over the flour mixture; process until the mixture is pale yellow and the resembles coarse crumbs, transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Sprinkle 3 T. water over mixture, fold with a rubber spatula to mix, press down with spatula until dough sticks together. Press the dough into a rectangle and chill for 30 minutes. When the filling is ready, roll dough on a floured surface into a 15 by 11 inch rectangle 1/8 inch thick. Place dough over filling and trim, you can either fold the edges down into the casserole dish, or fold back onto itself and crimp into a pie crust edge.

Chicken Pot Pie (from Cover and Bake)
Serves 6-8
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 T. vegetable oil
1 medium-large onion
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
2 small celery ribs, cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
4 T. unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 t. dried thyme
3 t. dry sherry (we used white wine)
1 cup frozen green peas
3 T. minced fresh parsley

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Simmer chicken and broth over medium heat in a covered dutch oven until chicken is just done, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a large bowl and reserve the broth. Increase the heat to medium high heat, and heat oil in the dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, and celery; saute until just tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the chicken. Melt the butter over medium heat in the same dutch oven; add the flour and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in the reserved chicken broth, milk, any accumulated chicken juices, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and simmer until the sauce fully thickens, about 1 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and stir in the sherry. Pour the sauce over the chicken mixture, stir in parsley and peas. Pour mixture into a 9 by 13 inch pan, top with pie-dough, and bake until topping is golden and filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

No comments: