Monday, December 21, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie


I know that talking about the weather is nothing more than a pointless exercise in banality, but it's ridiculously cold outside. I'm not complaining- I'd rather be cold than hot at the moment- but on those days when the inside of your apartment feels like what you're used to the outdoors feeling like in the winter, it's hard not to run to the kitchen and make every warm, rich, cream-laden dish that enters your frostbitten brain in its search for a little extra insulation.


Recently, we had one of those days: wind chills of -20 with wind gusts around 40 mph. I thought people were always exaggerating when they talked about weather like that in the lower 48, but it appears that I was very, very wrong (just as wrong as I was in thinking I'd be able to get away with wearing my collection of cute peep toe heels and ballet flats during the winter and retain any sense of feeling in my feet. Come on, I've never lived north of DC... I'm a winter weather moron). But I digress... I had this recipe for chicken pot pie bookmarked for what seems like eons, but it inevitably fell to the bottom of my list of things I must make NOW because, let's face it, so many other things sound more rewarding to make and eat than chicken pot pie. Are we sensing a theme here? About me being wrong? I thought so.

Chicken Pot Pie
(adapted from Martha Stewart)

The original recipe calls for 4 chicken breasts and 4 chicken thighs, which seemed like way too much for my tastes. If you want more chicken, go for it. I also used slightly smaller, deeper baking dishes than stated here, and they worked beautifully. Homemade puff pastry works best here (believe me, one bite of the flaky, tender, buttery, ethereal goodness makes it worth the extra effort), but the frozen stuff will work in a pinch.

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup baby carrots
1 cup frozen green peas
1 cup fresh or frozen pearl onions
4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms, trimmed and cut into quarters
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 large egg, beaten

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Place chicken, chopped onion, celery, and chopped carrots in a large stockpot; season with salt and pepper and enough water to cover. Wrap thyme and garlic in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine to enclose; add to pot. Cover pot and place over medium heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until chicken is no longer pink, about 25 minutes. Strain, discarding vegetables, and reserve chicken and liquids separately; let cool and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice-water bath. Add baby carrots to boiling water and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer to ice-water bath until cool. Drain; set aside. Place peas in boiling water and cook about 30 seconds; drain and set aside. Add pearl onions to boiling water and cook about 1 minute, transfer to ice-water bath until cool. Drain; set aside.
4. Heat 1 teaspoon butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes; let cool.
5. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces and place in a large nonreactive bowl along with baby carrots, peas, pearl onions, and mushrooms; set aside.
6. In a medium skillet, heat remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid and heavy cream. Cook, stirring constantly, until liquid comes to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce; season with salt and pepper. Add to bowl with chicken and vegetables; toss to combine.
7. Divide mixture evenly between four 13-ounce shallow baking dishes. Cut puff pastry into four 8-inch circles and place on top of each of the bowls, crimping edges as desired. Cut a slit in the center of each piece of puff pastry to allow steam to escape; brush beaten egg over puff pastry.
8. Transfer bowls to a baking sheet. Bake until puff pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Little Celebration


I made this cake a few weeks ago, just because I wanted to send something nice to work with the hubs. I haven't had the energy (or the steady hands) to decorate a cake for a few months, but that has passed and I feel well enough to share a little secret with you...


We're having a baby!

Yes, the last few months of not feeling well have been due to severe morning sickness (which they really need to re-name, by the way). It was physically a very, very rough ordeal, but I'm finally gaining back the weight I lost, my energy is back, and food has regained its appeal. So again, please forgive my relative absence over the last couple of months. I expect to be posting regularly with lots of goodies for you.