Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie - A Users Guide

Yield: Two 9x13 pans

I have a recipe that I downloaded from AllRecipies.com for Chicken Pot Pie. I don't remember which one I have, the search returns 74 unique recipes. It doesn't really matter, I've changed it so much that the original recipe is just a starting point. This is how I make it, and this will make two 9x13 pans of the stuff. That's what I need to feed the crowd that shows up to eat it if I let them know what's in the oven. 

Olive Oil
Chicken Breasts - 2 pounds, boneless/skinless cut into cubes or small pieces*
Frozen Peas, I can't remember if it's a 14 or 16 ounce package, just the normal size
Frozen Sliced Carrots, same size package as the peas
Celery, about 1 cup thinly sliced or chopped
Potatoes, 4-5 small yellow, skin on, wash them good and dice them up small
Onion, diced
Garlic, at least 3 cloves
Thyme, 3 or 4 sprigs fresh
Rosemary, 1 or 2 sprigs fresh
Frozen Puff Pastry, two packages for a total of 4 sheets, thawed
Butter, or close facsimile thereof, one stick
Flour, about 1/3 cup
Can Chicken Stock, 4 of them (homemade is even better and you'll need 6-8 cups of that)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and spray the bottoms of your pans with cooking spray.

Open up the puff pastry sheets and carefully unfold them so they are flat. Lay one sheet in the bottom of each 9x13 pan and stick them in the oven for about 12 minutes. Just until they puff up and are golden. Watch them closely, they can go from zero to charcoal pretty quick at that temperature. When they are done, pull the pans out of the oven and set them aside for now.

Put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a very large skillet over med heat. Once it's hot, get your chicken into the pan to saute. While that's going, chop your potatoes, celery, onion and garlic. When the chicken is cooked, add potatoes,  celery, onion and garlic to the pan and continue to cook until the onions are translucent. Make sure the garlic doesn't burn, it will get bitter.

Strip the leaves off of your herbs (hold onto the top of the stem and loosely pull down the stem towards the base, most of the leaves will come right off). The time can go directly into the pan, mince the rosemary first. Give it a good stir.

Dump in the carrots and peas, stir after each addition. Add salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. Everything doesn't have to be cooked through but make sure the chicken is done.

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until golden, then add about a third of a cup of flour to make a roux. Cook the roux until it's starting to turn brown in color and smells a little nutty. Slowly add your chicken stock to the roux and continue to cook, while stirring with a whisk to break up any lumps, until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Divide your chicken and veggie mixture evenly between the two 9x13 pans, just pour it right over the pastry base that you already cooked. Top this with the sauce, try to pour it evenly over the top of the chicken mixture.

You should have two unbaked pastry sheets left, lay one gently on top of each dish, don't pinch anything closed or the pastry won't puff. Put the pans into the oven and cook uncovered for about 45 minutes. You will probably need to rotate these halfway through so they cook evenly. When it's done the pastry will be golden brown and the insides will be bubbling, better line the bottom of the oven with foil so you don't end up with a mess.

Once these are out of the oven let them sit for about 10 minutes if you can keep people out of it that long. It's not a big deal but it's a little easier to serve that way. I cut each pan into 12 servings.

The Kid always says I never get enough salt and pepper into this dish so he adds more at the table and then eats two helpings. Dig in!

*If you prefer you can poach the chicken in some water with a bay leaf or three, some garlic and an onion and then shred it. If you do it this way, add the meat to the veggies before your start loading the crust. I hope I didn't leave anything out but if you find a misteak or have a question, let me know and I'll fix it.

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