Serious Eats for One Month- Getting Back To Basics

My cooking skills lately have been so bad.  I’ve been rushing home from work and throwing together a haphazard dinner with dubious ingredients or just being lazy and not watching that pot boil or letting the stove wreck havoc with whatever I’ve thrown in there.  There was no love in what I served my family- not that they ever complain, I love them for that- and it was getting depressing.

I recently discovered the website Serious Eats and I was impressed with the level of instruction and pictures.  So many of the recipes looked delicious and were well within my cooking level. Since it was around the time that I usually make my meal plan for the month (not that I’ve ever stuck with it to the end) I decided to look through and pin to Pinterest some recipes that I thought the family would like.  One for each day of November.  It’s a short month anyway- we have a few birthdays and Thanksgiving weekend up at the in-laws.

And in keeping with the internet initiative of blogging every day in November, I figured it was not only a good time to come back, but also to critique my back-to-basic cooking adventures.

Tonight I made Double Crusted Chicken Pot Pie.

  • For the crust:
  • 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 6 to 7 tablespoons whole milk
  • For the filling:
  • 2 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless, chicken thighs, legs, breasts, or a mix
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts, washed, halved vertically and cut into 1/2-inch half moons (about 3 cups)
  • 2 medium stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (1 cup)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, halved vertically and cut into 1/2-inch half moons (1 1/3 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons whole milk, divided
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 large egg yolk

Procedure:

For the Crust: in food processor, place half the flour, sugar and salt and pulse to combine.  Add butter cubes and pulse until mixture resembles wet cornmeal.  Add remaining flour and pulse once or twice to combine. (I have a teeny tiny food processor and none of this worked.  I had to pulse what I could and finish it in a bowl, cutting in the butter with knives.  I need a pastry cutter…hint hint.  And yes, that is TWO sticks of butter.  Delicious but deadly.)

Transfer mixture to large bowl and using rubber spatula, stir in 6 tablespoons milk, pressing mixture against sides of bowl, until mixture comes together into a dough. If too dry, add remaining tablespoon milk. Wrap 1/3 of dough in plastic wrap, pressing into 4-inch disc. Wrap remaining 2/3rds in plastic and pressm into bottom of 10-cup soufflé dish (see note above). Place soufflé dish and dough disk into refrigerator.

For the filling: In large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat chicken broth on medium heat until simmering. Add chicken and simmer until just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow chicken to cool in broth. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove from broth, shred into bite size pieces, and transfer to medium bowl. Strain broth, reserving 3/4 cup and pouring remaining broth over chicken. Set aside.  (I didn’t cook the chicken this way- I used a roasted chicken I cooked this morning to replenish my chicken stock and I picked it clean of all the meat)

In same unwashed saucepan, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add leeks, celery, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are almost soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add vegetable mixture to chicken. (Go figure- Stop and Shop was OUT of LEEKS.  I used two russet potatoes instead, cooked until slightly tender.)

In same saucepan, heat butter on medium heat until melted. Stir in flour until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, until raw flour aroma is gone and flour is pale golden blond, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, slowly add 1 cup milk and 3/4 cup reserved chicken broth, scraping up any bits that have accumulated on the bottom, and cook until mixture is smooth and comes to boil. ( I would double this and make more gravy.  Although tasty, the pot pie was a little dry. And besides, what’s better than freaking gravy?)

Remove from heat and stir in vegetable/chicken mixture, parsley, and thyme. Stir in frozen peas. Season to taste and transfer mixture to large bowl. Cover and chill until just cool, about 1 hour.  (I ran out into the pouring rain to pick some thyme from my lawn garden and chopped it up with the parsley…and totally forgot to put it in with the filling mixture.  Duh.)

Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and place pizza stone on rack. Preheat oven to 400°F for 45 minutes. (I didn’t read this the first time and didn’t wait the whole 45 minutes.  I waited until I was ready to go.)

On lightly floured surface, roll out larger piece of dough to 14-inch circle. Roll up dough with rolling pin and then unroll over souffle dish, allowing dough to fit into bottom and completely up the sides. If very soft, chill dough in dish until dough is firm, about 15 minutes.

Fill crust with cooled chicken filling. Roll out remaining piece of dough to 9-inch circle and place over the top. Press the edges together, trim, and crimp with fork. (Chicken wasn’t cooled, but I didn’t think that mattered.)

In small bowl, whisk yolk and remaining 2 teaspoons milk. Brush over top crust. Poke a few slits into the top of the crust. Place a piece of parchment paper on the pizza stone and place the pot pie on top. (I forgot the egg, too [where is my head?] but I did but a few pretty slits in the top.

Reduce heat to 375°F. Bake until deep golden and filling is hot (at least 140°F), 70 to 80 minutes. Serve. (It only took an hour for the crust to brown and filling to bubble.  I should have started this 3 hours before I wanted to serve it, or do the filling the day before.  I did have a good two cups of filling left over, so I’m planning on making mini pot pies for lunch this week.)

Overall, this was really good, buttery and filling.  I think next time I will eliminate the bottom crust just to cut down on the fats.  I worked hard and poured a lot of love into the pot pie and even though I forgot a few steps, MR declared it delicious.  This ones a keeper.

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