Saturday, November 23, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

Last Wednesday we had dinner at Foodie’s house and she decided to make something that is considered by some to be the ultimate comfort food, Chicken Pot Pie.

There was a reason for her menu choice...that day, she lost her beloved pet of 16 years, a sweet little terrier mix named Lucy. Lucy was a happy little dog that was always delighted to see our little crew (and everyone else) when we arrived. I remember once seeing her bounce the highest I’ve ever seen a dog bounce and now, in retrospect, perhaps that was a metaphor for her personality...a happy, lively and effervescent little dog who simply loved doing what dogs do. Rest peacefully, sweet Lucy, we will miss you.

Losing a pet is so difficult. 

Chicken pot’s all the good things wrapped up on one, isn't it? Chock full of vegetables, a velvety sauce, spices and a delectable puff pastry topping…mercy, what could be better? There are obviously many ways to make this all-time favorite, but I like the simple, straight-forward approach that Foodie uses. When her children were young, she told us she would make individual pot pies to suit their special preferences – one with more chicken, one with no mushrooms – and Foodie gave us the same loving attention.....she served each of us our own pot pie presented in lovely handmade, yes I said handmade, crocks.

In my opinion, chicken pot pie is a go-to fall/winter dish...a must on the menu repertoire...
...and, the ultimate comfort food. We were happy to be with Foodie to remember a great dog.

Chicken Pot Pie
By: Foodie

One whole chicken or chicken parts
Chicken broth (enough to cover the chicken)
8 oz of mushrooms (any kind, but shiitake work well; they add a bit of earthiness)
1 cup pearl onions
4 carrots peeled and sliced
4 potatoes cut into bite-size pieces (I like Yukon Gold)
Frozen peas or string beans, pre-cooked (if desired)
1/4 cup heavy cream
Spices of choice (tarragon, rosemary, sage, thyme work nicely with chicken)
Puff pastry sheets (Trader Joes makes a nice product)

Cook a whole chicken or chicken pieces in chicken stock until the chicken is fully cooked and falling off the bones. Remove the chicken from the pot and, when cool, tear into bite-size pieces. Set the chicken aside and reserve the stock. Sauté the mushrooms in a bit of butter or olive oil and set aside. Place pearl onions, carrots, potatoes in the broth and cook until the broth is reduced and the vegetable are a bit tender (remember, they will cook a bit more in the oven). The starch in the potatoes will thicken the broth a bit but add some cornstarch to thicken it a little more. Add some spices, heavy cream and a splash of white wine if desired to the broth and vegetable mixture. Pioneer Woman also adds a bit of turmeric to her chicken pot pie sauce to give it a lovely amber richness. Add the reserved mushrooms, chicken and peas/string beans (if using) to the vegetable mixture and pour into one large or four individual casserole dishes. Top with the puff pastry, brush with a beaten egg and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes...just to brown the pastry.

For dessert, I made whole-wheat brownies slathered with apricot jam and gussied up with white chocolate shavings.

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