Sunday, August 8, 2010

Comfort Food: Chicken Pot Pie

So after dealing with the car in the shop this week and leaving the equivalent of a small vacation in funds there, I needed some comfort. And what do you feed hungry men? I have chicken, some standard vegetables, and a pie crust. Oh wait, where is that heavenly recipe Nancy introduced on her site a while back? The one that was to-die-for amazing?

Well, friends, I have to tell you--she was right. I also adore Pioneer Woman, but I must preface with 1) This is not the fastest recipe (unless you have Samurai skills with chopping vegetables)--but it is relatively uncomplicated (with the exception of carefully flipping a store-bought pie crust on top of a pie dish & crimping edges of pastry with hands--well, for me anyway--I don't work with pastry on a regular basis) and 2) This is not the healthiest recipe the way that the Pioneer Woman makes it or any of her recipes. However, I have done my best to make it somewhat more healthy--well, SOMEWHAT is key. And you don't miss the extra fat (which I guess I added some back with cheese) or a little tiny bit of whole grain in the filling. And, I'm sure you can make it with veggie-chicken too (no boiling/roasting required).

But, it's worth making it. I highly suggest reading through the recipe in its entirety before starting. And if you're going through the effort, go ahead and make two and freeze a pie or give to a tired woman that's just had a baby :)

From The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Makes one 9-inch pie

3 celery stalks
3 medium carrots, peeled (I left these unpeeled, but scraped them very clean)
1 large yellow onion
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter (I only used 2 Tbsp. & a teeny bit of olive oil)
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (I roasted two frozen chicken breasts per pie-after sprinkling them with seasoning--Nancy boiled hers)1 cup all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour & 1/2 cup all-purpose flour)2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/2 cup white wine (optional) (all I had was dry vermouth & it made a really wonderful addition)1 cup heavy cream (I used whole milk and it was just fine!!)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (Nancy's addition that I also made-great idea!)
1 tsp. ground thyme (like Nancy, I only used 1/2 tsp.)1 tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 pie crust (I also cheated and used store-bought)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. (I suggest you not do this until you're about to assemble the pie--I mean, it is SUMMER after all!)
Begin by finely dicing the vegetables (celery, carrots, and onion).

Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and peas. (I waited to add the peas until I added the milk/cream--see further down--I like my peas a bit less "cooked"). Saute until the vegetables start to turn translucent, a couple of minutes.

(If you use less fat, like myself, the vegetables may brown a bit or stick to the bottom--if that happens, just add a little extra water or broth to prevent sticking).
Add the chicken and stir to combine. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the vegetables and chicken and stir to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring gently.

Pour in the chicken broth, stirring constantly. Stir in the bouillon cube and wine, if using. The flour will combine with the chicken to create a delicious gravy.

Pour in the milk/cream (and cheddar cheese if you choose to use it--and if you waited to add peas like myself, add them now too) and stir. Allow the mixture to cook over low heat, thickening gradually, about 4 minutes.

Season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Be sure its adequately salted! (Since I did not use low-sodium broth, no extra salt was needed--however, I didn't realize this and my pie ended up a little too salty-just a warning). If you waited to preheat the oven, do so now at 400 degrees.

Pour the chicken mixture into a deep pie pan or small casserole dish.

Roll out the crust so that it's 1 inch larger than the pan. Place the crust on top of the chicken mixture and cut small slits in the top. Press the crust gently into the sides of the dish to seal. Pioneer woman says: I don't worry about making a perfect edge on my chicken pot pie because 1) it looks more rustic and B) I'm lazy and hungry, and I want to eat (Couldn't agree more!).

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Use a large spoon to serve.

Now sit back and watch those men marvel. This last part is the easiest. Especially if you're lucky enough to have them offer to do the dishes. Good luck!

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