Hooray! Easy Chicken Pot Pie Doesn't HAVE to Come from a Box!

Tasty Home-made Chicken Pot PieAfter playing with tomato soup, I started thinking about some other things I had never actually eaten from a recipe vs a can, package, or box. Little wonder, the very first thing that popped to mind was pot pie. Has anyone had one not from a freezer case in the last 30 years? If that person exists, I don't know them. Well, after this week, The Boss and I joined their ranks.

And here's the most surprising part ... It was one the easiest fucking things I've ever made.

It was damned fast, too. The whole thing took only about 30 - 40 minutes to prep, including making pie crust from scratch, and cooked in about the same amount of time as its limp-ass frozen evil twin. Best part was, it was absolutely foodgasmic ... light, yet satisfying and a complete meal in one little dish.

Recipe reboot WIN!

Here's what I put together for this first go-round. I tried to do something fairly similar to the packaged pot pies, with a light creamy sauce. Next time, I'm going to experiment with some bolder flavors, maybe a Hungarian Paprikas version or something twangily Tex-Mex. Honestly, the possibilities for this sort of thing are endless. Hell, you could even do an all-veg version, which I'm interested in trying, too, something like a broccoli, leek, carrot, (maybe bean) stew encased with a lovely, flaky crust. *heh* I better move on to the recipe now, before I get myself too worked up into a food-experiment scheming frenzy. 

Chicken Pot Pie InnardsChicken Pot Pie
makes 4 pies (depending upon dish size)
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 TBSP butter - cut into pieces
6-8 TBSP cold water (as needed)
1 egg - beaten

3 TBSP olive oil
1/2 onion - fine dice
2 stalks celery - fine dice
4 carrots - fine dice
6 cloves garlic - fine mince
sea or kosher salt / fresh ground pepper
1 TBSP fresh rosemary - fine mince
3 TBSP flour
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups milk
1/4 cup parsley - fine mince
4 pre-cooked chicken thighs (or 2 breasts) - small cubes
4 pre-cooked small potatoes (or 2 med) - small cubes

1 - PREP - Preheat oven to 400º

2 - CRUST - Place Crust four + salt in a large bowl. Add butter and work it into the dry ingredients gently with your fingers, rubbing softly until beads of flour and butter are no larger than smallish peas. Then add the water, 4 TBSP to start then by TBSP as needed, and work in with a fork. Once the mix is forming together and not crumbling apart, you're ready to work it slightly. Kneed softly just to get it together, cut into 4 pieces and make little round discs, wrap in cling film, and set in the fridge to cool for at least 30 min.

3 - FILLINGS - Heat a large, deep skillet to MED and add oil until shimmering. Add onion, celery, carrots, and garlic and stir regularly, with a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste, for about 8-10 minutes (until carrots are starting to soften). Add rosemary and flour, mixing well until flour is coating all the vegetables. Then add the lemon juice and blend in well, adding the milk immediately after, 1 cup first then as needed of the 2nd cup to get a good sauce consistency (about like gravy, since the potatoes will help thicken more in cooking). Then add parsley, chicken, and potatoes. Remove from heat and set aside while you prep the crust.

4 - ASSEMBLY - Remove the crusts from the fridge. They're going to feel kind of hard, but that's good. On a floured board, knead each dough disc gently and work out into a larger, flatter form with your hands (flour them too). If you have a rolling pin, you can save a few minutes by using it to thin out the crusts to about 1/8 - 3/16". If not, you can use the palms of your hands to gently work the dough out evenly (That's how I did mine and it works just fine.).

Use ramekins, corningware dishes, or mini bread pans for individual servings. Spoon the filling into the dishes evenly, then lay the crust over the top, pinching it around the edge to form a seal and cutting off excess. You can tamp down around the edge lightly with a fork, too, if you like. Then cut a few vents in the crust and brush lightly with the beaten egg.

5 - COOK - for 35 minutes, until crust is golden and innards are bubbly hot.

Tomato Gelee with Rocket SaladThe Great Tomato Gelee Experiment

Evidently, I'm a bit obsessed with tomatoes lately, which I suppose is not really a bad thing. They're super-healthy and fantastically tasty (except for the assily cardboard-tasting crap they try to pass off as tomatoes at most supermarkets, of course). Combining my two recent obsessions, tomatoes and recipe reboots, I had a crazy idea of making a tomato gelee without using packaged or sheet gelatin. It seemed every recipe I saw for this once-ubiquitous treat, which used to be a must-have at any fancy dinner or banquet, included the "cheat" of simply putting in what used to be rendered naturally with time (and a bit of love). In my opinion, that's how it jumped the shark, sinking from haute cuisine to Auntie's Church picnic fare under the new, nastier sounding handle, aspic. *Bleh*

Browned Butter Eggs on Sourdough Toast w/ Goast Cheese and GeleeSo, using a bit of culinary MacGyverism and a whole lot of guesswork, I did the kitchen-as-laboratory thing working the food alchemy. Fortunately, I did make a fantastic gelee, which set up beautifully for presentation, yet melted like hot sex on the tongue. Unfortunately, the first attempt didn't have the balance of flavors I was looking for, the subtle layerings of taste components which would make this a killer dish. Mind you, it was still pretty fucking tasty and we've been merrily eating gelee with lots of other things (particularly goat cheese). While I go back to the drawing board, I'll share a little food porn of the gelee experiment, the initial dish with a rocket and veggie salad (goat cheese sourdough toasts on the side) and a decadent brunch of sourdough toasts with goat cheese and gelee topped with fried eggs. The combo of the yolks with the other stuff? Sex in our mouths, seriously.

Hopefully, some time soon I'll have a recipe I'd like to publish for gelee. Meanwhile, the food experiment train must chug onward.

Next week, I'll probably be taking a fresh look at some classic hors d'oeuvres and adult bevvies for an updated retro cocktail party. Until then, I'll be off playing with my food.