Friday, March 4, 2011

Ad Hoc: Chicken Pot Pie

Unlike the asparagus salad-thing, this was a giant pain in the ass.  I realized this as soon as I saw "simmer each of the vegetables in separate saucepans for 8-10 minutes.."  This said so... nonchalantly... could only mean a giant pain-in-the-behind recipe.

And it was.  BUT.  It was worth it.  And, in Keller's defense, if I had actually *read* (rather than skimmed) the recipe all the way through, I would have done things in a different order and saved roughly an hour of time.

Earlier in the day, I made pie crust and stuck it in the freezer.  Then forgot about it.  Tip #1 in not taking 3 1/2 hours to make pot pie: don't freeze your crust all the way through and then take it out when its time to roll the dough.

The filling: a bunch of veggies and some shredded chicken.  I had a thing of pre-made frozen shredded chicken which was a giant time-saver.  Yeah, the opposite of my fancy-free-range-hippy chicken from when I roasted a chicken, but sometimes you have to make do with what you have.

So, as I alluded to earlier, I peeled the carrots/onions (this wasn't mentioned anywhere, but I figured no one likes onion skins), cut these and the potatoes up, and boiled/simmered them one by one with a bay leaf, thyme sprig, and eight peppercorns.  Yes, EXACTLY 8.  Oh, and I had to cut and blanch some celery.  I realized early on that (1) I didn't have enough saucepans to do them at once and (2) it would take even long if I did them all at once, so I basically cooked each as I finished cutting and dumped them on a cookie sheet to cool.

I moved onto the next "step" in the instructions, the bechamel.  Obviously, i've made this before.  I did not think about the fact that it needed to cook for a total of 45 minutes - the same amount of time it took me to do all the veg - or else I would have started with that.  Tip #2 - do the bechamel first.  Then prep the veg.

The roux:

About the same time I started the bechamel, I realized my crusts were currently doubling as hockey pucks in the freezer, so I took those out to thaw.  Then I made toddler vegetables and chicken with a "cheese sauce" that consisted of me stealing some bechamel base (which was nowhere near thick), tossing in some gouda and melting it.  It was rather grainy, but he didn't mind.  Enough that he asked for seconds, and thirds, and I ended up just pouring a spoonful of bechamel over the veggies/chicken for his last serving.  Upon simmering and thickening, I strained into a measuring cup and tossed in the herbs and spices.

After baby was in bed, I rolled out the dough -

- then put in dish (one upside: no need for re-chilling the crust, since everything was done and it was still pretty cold).

I adore pie crust, so I wasn't cutting any away.  Instead I just brushed some extra egg on it and rolled it up.  I also poked the crust with my nails several times, whoops.

In the oven it went:

And out it came, an hour later.  As you can see, bechamel leaked through where my nails punctured.  Plus, it probably should have been a little thicker, but I didn't care to wait any longer to get the damned thing in the oven.

It.  Was.  Amazing.  The crust was buttery and flakey and a little more savory than pie crust usually is (maybe because the cream had soaked in?)  SO GOOD.  I ate seconds even though I was bursting because it was so good I didn't want to stop.  Mmm....

So, timesavers for anyone that tries this:  don't forget about your dough and over-chill (30 minute savings).  Start with the bechamel (45 minute saving).  And have enough saucepans on hand that you can cook 5 things at once (at least 20 minute savings).  With those, this is a reasonable dinner.  Otherwise... save it for a Sunday where you can cook allll day if you want.  And still have time to do the 40 million dishes you have spread over your sink and kitchen counters because your dishwasher broke.

No comments:

Post a Comment