Thursday, June 25, 2009

Labour of Love

Still Life with Rolling Pin
The calendar notwithstanding, summer has yet to arrive in the northeast. We've had measurable precipitation and lower than normal temperatures since June 1. I've been fighting the urge to go back into hibernation. The only way to combat the blues was to take refuge in the kitchen with something warm and comforting.
This is one recipe where any sane person would take the easy way out. There is very passable chicken broth out there in the marketplace. Homemade stock takes a couple of hours if you really want to do it right. Puff pastry in the refrigerated section of the grocery store is a godsend. Cutting fat into flour, chilling then rolling out dough is an anxiety-ridden chore. But I have a mile-long stubborn streak and a luddite snobbery about taking shortcuts. I also think that all that extra labor makes for a superior finished dish. The irony here being, it took me two days to finish a rustic casserole that any Irish pub can churn out hourly. I may never go to this much trouble again, but at least I know that I can.
Chicken Pot Pie
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 4lb whole roasting chicken
  • 2 cups pearl onions, blanched and peeled
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½" slices
  • ½lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" dice
  • ¼lb snap peas, trimmed
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼lb button mushrooms, quartered
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp hot sauce
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 Tbsp water
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ tsp salt
  • ¼lb (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into small cubes
  • ½ cup chilled shortening
Chop enough parsley for ¼ cup and set aside. Place remaining parsley, whole chicken and half the onions in a large stock pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Reserving the liquid, remove chicken from stock pot and allow to cool.. Pull meat from bones and place in a large mixing bowl. Return carcass to pot and simmer another hour. Strain stock, then return to pot over medium heat. Cook carrots, potatoes, peas and remaining onions in stock just until tender. Remove vegetables from stock and add to the bowl with the chicken meat.
Sauté mushrooms & garlicCombine chicken, vegetables, mushrooms and sauce
Cook garlic and mushrooms in 1 Tbsp butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until mushrooms release much of their liquid (about 3 minutes). Add to chicken mixture. In the same pan over medium heat, make a roux with remaining 3 Tbsp butter and the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup chicken stock until thickened. Remove from heat and add cream. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Add parsley. Gently fold sauce into chicken mixture.
Cut butter & shortening into flourWrap dough in plastic
Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Cut butter and shortening into flour with a pastry cutter until it forms a coarse, crumb-like texture. Stir in 4-8 Tbsp of ice water a tablespoon at a time until dough just holds together. Divide dough into two balls; roughly two-thirds for the bottom crust, one-third for the top. Form each ball into a disk, wrap in plastic and allow to rest refrigerated for one hour.
Roll chilled dough on floured surfaceLine pie pan with round of dough
Fill dough-lined pan with chicken mixtureCover chicken with rolled out dough
Pre-heat oven to 450°. Roll out cooled pastry rounds to fit a 9" pie pan. Line pan with larger round, fill with chicken mixture and cover with top pastry. Crimp edges, cut vents into top pastry and brush with egg wash. Place pie pan on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Turn down oven to 350° and continue to bake pot pie until crust is brown, about 35 minutes more. Allow pie to cool a bit before cutting into wedges and serving.
Pot pie cooling on rackChicken pot pie
I swear to god, I felt just like Donna Reed when the pie came out of the oven. I could have pranced around the kitchen, giddy with pride, in a big puffy skirt and an apron. Everything turned out perfectly. The crust was awesome; light, buttery and toasty. The filling was a masterpiece. The vegetables were substantial, not mushy or watered down. Every bite offered big chunks of tender chicken and creamy sauce. I desperately wished someone would walk through the door calling out, "Honey, I'm home! What smells so good?"
If I blog long enough, maybe Mr. Right will cross my threshold one day. A girl can dream, right?
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

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