Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spring Chicken Pot Pie

If you think a Pot Pie is more of a winter offering, think again.  This one has Spring written all over it.  It’s filled with fresh Spring vegetables and there’s no heavy cream sauce. The recipe relies on a simple Chicken Stock sauce that is full of the flavor of all the ingredients because they are cooked in it. And if that isn’t lure enough, it uses one skillet to cook absolutely everything from start to finish. And I didn’t even have to cook the chicken since I used a Costco bird.  The pastry is store-bought puff pastry and the whole thing takes about an hour to make. With all that convenience added to the recipe, it’s hard to believe the pot pie has an ancient history.

No Blackbirds in today's recipe
You have to go back to the Roman Empire to find the roots of today’s Chicken Pot Pie.   The Romans served meat pies at banquets and quite often featured live birds under the cruse which would emerge undoubtedly startling the dinner guests.  Remember that old nursery rhyme about “Four and Twenty Blackbirds baked in a pie”?  in 16th century England, the ancient taste for meat pies was revived. Pork, lamb, game and venison were all baked into pies.  But birds predominated.  In Elizabethan England, pot pies were made using “Chicken Peepers”—tiny chicks stuffed with gooseberries. The taste for meat pies came with the earliest settlers to the New World. In the 19th century, there was even a version that featured Robins as the main ingredient.  The pot pie is now such a part of our culinary traditions, it’s as American as Corn on the Cob. Here’s the recipe.

Recipe for Spring Chicken Pot Pie
Active Time: 25 minutes. Total Time 1 hour.  Serves 4 to 6.

2 medium leeks, white and light-green parts only, cut crosswise into 1/3" rounds
5 tablespoons (or more) olive oil, divided
3 cups of cooked Chicken cut into bite-sized pieces
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
3 medium carrots (about 5 1/2 ounces), peeled, cut into 1/4" coins
8 ounces of Button or Cremini mushrooms, quartered
6 ounces frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon chopped dill
½ tsp. Chili Pepper Flakes
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, such as Dufour or Pepperidge Farm, thawed
1 large egg (optional)

1. Place rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 425°F. Remove the puff pastry from the freezer to thaw. If you see or feel dirt in leeks, rinse well, separating layers, then pat dry; otherwise, leave rounds intact.

2. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a 10" cast-iron or other deep, heavy, ovenproof skillet over medium. Add garlic and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Using a slotted spoon, transfer garlic to a plate, reserving about 3 Tbsp. oil in pan.

3. Return pan to low heat and add flour, 1 Tbsp. at a time, stirring to combine after each addition.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is the color of peanut butter, about 5 minutes.

4. Stir in stock 1/4-cupful at a time. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add carrots, mushrooms and leeks and simmer until carrots are just softened and liquid is reduced by half, 10–12 minutes. Add chicken, garlic, peas, dill, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper and 1/2 tsp. Chili Pepper flakes and stir to combine.

5. Remove from heat. Place pastry over skillet, tucking corners gently into sides; it won't completely cover pan but don’t worry, just make sure you put the skillet on a baking sheet to avoid spills in the oven.  Whisk egg with 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl and brush top of pastry. Cut four 1" slits in pastry to vent.
6. Bake pot pie until pastry is beginning to brown and underside is cooked, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
Divide pot pie among plates. Serve with a green salad alongside.

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