Starting this blog off with an entirely new design involved a lot of trips down Memory Lane. It was a very long and complex project just to get the old posts transferred over. Each and every one of them had to be reviewed and the print function added for every single recipe. Those of you who had previously had to suffer through interminably long printing times and an obscene amount of text, will be delighted to know that you can now print any recipe without the mountains of prose I surround my posts with. That’s progress. And the other signs of progress?
I have to say that I am pretty appalled at some of our earliest photography. It was very often poorly lit and even out of focus. These posts pre-dated the arrival of my I-Phone camera, which no less that Annie Liebovitz herself pronounced the camera she would advise to buy. The lighting got better, the focus was sharper and that old instructor, experience, has certainly improved our end product. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t actually cringe at some of the pictures…especially when I arrived at a very early post for Chicken Pot Pie. There is the background, almost in perfect focus was a bottle of Dawn dishwashing soap. The Chicken Pot pie was just a blur in front of it, as you can see in the photo…so this was ready for a do-over…
I was once told that the Chinese word for ‘chaos’ was also the synonym for ‘divine opportunity”. And that is how I am approaching some of the truly great dishes that got short shrift in the Photography department through no fault of their own. And I greet this opportunity to return to some truly memorable meals that I can expand on and re-introduce to you in all their I-Phone camera-readiness. And the first one is this really great Chicken Pot Pie. And I had a helper doing all the images you see here. My dear friends Beth and Peter were here and Beth, a wonderful photographer shot all these images. Thank you Beth!
First off, let’s talk about the pastry. It’s a highly adaptable method for perfecting store-bought puff pastry, specifically those Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets found in almost every grocery store’s frozen foods section. The trick here is to get a great bottom crust for your pie. And this is done by putting the pie plate on a sheet pan and then putting both sheet pan and pie plate on the bottom of a 375 degree oven for between 30 to 45 minutes.
Unlike the sodden results or practically uncooked pastry of the past, you’ll be pleased to see the entire pie takes on a beautiful browned look. And in the case of this Chicken Pot Pie, instead of the standard single crust, you get this wonderful true “piece of pie” that even holds the filling better. Now, about the filling.
Chicken Pot pie is one of those deeply gratifying ways to use almost any vegetable you have on hand. It’s a very useful way to clean out the vegetable bin or at least have the flexibility to use any vegetable you want. In this case, I used four them. I started with four Farm Stand Leeks. I parboiled some broccoli florets. I thawed 12 oz. of peas and I stripped four ears of corn of their kernels. I wanted a pie that was wall-to-wall filling and that’s what I got.
As to the chicken itself, there are two ways of going here. You can poach four chicken breasts in cream or you can go with a half a rotisserie chicken and save yourself the poaching. The latter is what I did. I’d done chicken sandwiches with a delicious chicken from, of course, Costco and had half a bird left. It was perfect for this purpose.
Recipe for Chicken Pot Pie in a Puff Pastry Crust
4 chicken bone-in breasts or ½ rotisserie chicken
1 cup heavy cream
4 leeks, white and light green parts only cut into 1/8 slices
1 Head of Broccoli broken into bite sized florets
4 ears of Corn, removed from cobs.
12 oz. Frozen Green Peas
9 tbsp. of unsalted butter, divided
4 tbsp. flour
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
¼ cup brandy, cognac or white wine
1 tbsp. dried tarragon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp. water
2 sheets of Pepperidge Farm frozen Puff Pastry
- Take the puff pastry out of the freezer 40 minutes before using to defrost.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- If using chicken breasts, put them in a single layer in a baking dish. Pour the cream over them and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the cream, reserving the cream and the cooking liquid. Let the breasts cool, de-bone them and cut them into 1 inch pieces. Alternatively, take the meat off the bones of half a rotisserie chicken and cut it into one inch pieces.
- Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
- Blanche the broccoli florets in highly salted boiling water for 3 minutes, the corn and peas for 1 minute. Drain the vegetables and cool them under cold running water. Drain thoroughly. Put the vegetables in a large bowl.
- Melt 4 tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until translucent, not brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside and add to vegetables.
- Melt another 5 tbsp. of butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Do not let flour brown.
- Add the chicken broth and cook until thickened. Then add the cream and juices and the brandy, cognac or white wine. Cook over low heat until thick, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the tarragon, salt, pepper and simmer one minute. Add the chicken and mix gently into the cream sauce. Remove from heat. Add chicken to the vegetable mixture
- Mix the egg and water in a small bowl. On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry so that it is 1/8 inch thick. Butter a 9 inch pie dish, preferably a M. Henri pie dish and line it with one sheet of puff pastry. Trim any excess pastry leaving a half inch overhang. Brush the edge of the dish with the egg wash. Ladle the chicken filling into the pie dish. Pile it high. Roll out the second sheet of puff pastry and puncture it with tiny holes very gently. Lay the sheet of pastry over the top of the pie filling. Crimp the edges of the pastry decoratively Then take the egg wash and brush it all over the pastry.
- Place the pie dish directly on the bottom of the oven, or on a sheet tray and put it in the bottom of the oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until it is beautifully browned checking it frequently. Serves 6.