Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie and a Bonus Recipe! [Rhonda]

Degree of difficulty: medium (I'm not gonna lie. Time-consuming prep and sauce. But I'm also gonna tell you this will kick the crap out of any--any!!!--frozen pot pie you will ever buy.)
Time: 1 hour prep and cook
Serves: 3 to 4

Snow has blanketed (OK, spritzed) our backyard and it's time for a blazing fire and something warm and cozy to eat. Mike suggested homemade chicken pot pie. Right. Like that's easy.

To make it worth your while, make a big batch of the filling and freeze some for another night. And use purchased puff pastry for the crust.

The sauce is divine. It belongs to a chicken-stuffed-with-morels recipe my beautiful girlfriend Rosemary Schulz made BC (before children), again on a snowy night in their charming South Salem colonial, and I've never, ever forgotten it. (I'll include it in this post...) As I study the recipe, now browned at the edges and snaggle-toothed on three sides, I notice it's written carefully, in neatly formed script, with a proper slant, my handwriting from a very distant past. Life just speeds up.

Chicken Pot Pie

1 to 2 cups cooked chicken (I use the leftovers from my roasted chicken)
1 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots, diced and briefly steamed
1 cup frozen peas, briefly steamed

Optional additions: 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped and sauteed briefly, 1/2 to
1 cup diced cooked potatoes (I've used leftover roasted potatoes to good effect),
1/2 cup sauteed onions (can make it a touch sweet though)

Puff pastry--defrost according to package directions. I've used Pepperidge Farm brand on this, but recently discovered Dufour Puff Pastry (at Whole Foods) which is in a class by itself, really amazing. I cook the puff pastry separately so it doesn't get soggy on top of the steamy veggies and chicken.

Ramekins (mine are 4 1/2 inches in diameter) OR one baking dish for the whole shebang

Place diced and cooked veggies and chopped cooked chicken in mixing bowl.

Preheat oven to 375 F for the puff pastry (or whatever temp your package calls for). Roll out puff pastry on floured board or countertop.

Cut pieces slightly larger than the ramekin or baking dish you're using. Drape puff pastry over an upside-down empty ramekin (to hold the shape) and bake in oven according to package directions (I baked the Dufour about 20 minutes).

Make the sauce.

The Cream of Chicken Sauce
2 cups chicken broth (canned is fine here)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
(I make 1 1/2 times the recipe for 3 pies...)

Combine broth and wine in saucepan. Reduce to 1 cup. Melt butter in another saucepan and add flour, whisk. Add broth/wine, whisk, cook til thickened and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cream. Simmer about five minutes, stirring.

When pastry is done, pour the hot sauce over the veggies and chicken in mixing bowl. If not hot enough, transfer to saucepan and heat on the stove for a moment. Pour into ramekins or baking dish, top with baked crust and serve.

Bonus Recipe:
Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Morels and Wild Rice
10 dried morels
1/2 cup cooked wild rice
1 1/2 lbs whole boneless chicken breasts (can leave skin intact for extra juiciness)
1 tablespoon butter (plus butter for greasing the baking dish)
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons cognac
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 1/2 cups cream of chicken sauce

Preheat over to 425 F.
Put morels in mixing bowl and add warm water to cover. Let stand 30 minutes until softened. Cook rice, set aside.

Split each breast lengthwise down the center to make two halves. Place breasts skin side down on flat surface and pound to thin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Drain the morels and squeeze. Cut mushrooms into quarters. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in saucepan and add the onions. Cook until wilted. Add mushrooms and cook briefly. Add the wild rice, salt and pepper, and stir. Add cognac and chives. Remove from heat and cool.

Spoon some mixture into the center of each breast, fold over the sides, top and bottom of each fillet envelope-fashion, enclose completely. (Can hold together with a toothpick)

Arrange close together but not touching in baking dish (lightly buttered). Brush each breast with melted butter, place in oven and bake 20 minutes.

Liquid will accumulate around the breasts as they cook. Transfer breasts to warm serving dish. Reduce cooking liquid by half. Add to cream of chicken sauce. Spoon sauce over breasts and serve.

Suggested soundtrack: Jay Sean's "2012" has been running through my head for days...a happy little ditty for kitchen dancin' as you cook

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