COOKING ADVENTURE #35: Chicken Pot Pie
I’ll be frank, readers. There have been very few times that a cooking adventure has actually gone the way it was supposed to with no problems. In fact, I can count these times on one hand. However, we can now add this cooking adventure to that list. Not in my wildest dreams did I expect this recipe to turn out so well. And even better, it is something I can eat! It also happens to be one of my favorite comfort foods. While I have been trying to branch out on the things I eat (I ate most of a hamburger this past weekend!), I’m still playing the eating game cautiously. All it takes is one wrong food to send me into a painful ulcer fit. Now that I know how to make this hot comforting dish, I plan on doing it often. It’s not complicated by any means, uses very few ingredients, and there’s almost no way I can botch it up… unless I forget certain ingredients, which… I won’t lie to you… I did once during this adventure. Doesn’t matter. The pie turned out perfect without it and it tasted like something… that someone else besides me made.
Chicken Pot Pie has been one of my favorite foods since I was a kid. It was especially enjoyable on a brisk fall day after I’d been out playing in leaves or taking a long walk. This dish immediately reminds me of the sights, smells, and tastes of autumn. And let me say, I adore autumn. It’s my favorite time of the year and it’s the time of the year when my cooking/baking gets more creative. So… expect to see some new and interesting recipes soon.
Now: a disclaimer. Nothing disastrous or terrible occurred during this cooking adventure. I didn’t get slimed by chicken, my stove top burner didn’t explode, the pot pie wasn’t under-cooked, and the carrots didn’t spontaneously combust. The pie was beautiful… beautiful, I tell you.
The first step is to take a package of raw chicken tenders and cut them into cubes. And please, do this with a sharp, non-serrated knife. I made the mistake of trying to cut them up using a steak knife. No. I ended up shredding the chicken more than cutting it into cubes. And I didn’t even have the sense to stop after the first one because… I didn’t want to dirty another knife. So once I’d thoroughly ripped the chicken pieces to smithereens and coated the knife in tiny chicken spots, I tossed the chicken into my stainless steel pan on the stove top. Next, I pulled out a package of cut carrot discs and measured out a cup. Now, one must be extra vigilant when using carrots from a bag. You know why? Because they apparently just throw the entire carrot in to the processor, even if it has a giant stalk of green fluffing out the top. I found one of these severed tops in the bag, with a nice slimy green bush poking out and promptly threw it away. The carrot discs were also a bit big for someone to eat in one bite. I cut them in half before adding them to the pan.
Next, I added enough water to the pan that it covered the chicken and carrots and then turned up the heat to medium-low. It took a while for the carrots and chicken to cook through but eventually, when the chicken was white and the carrots soft, I drained the water from the pan and dumped the food out onto a plate. I was supposed to have added peas here and in my excitement to make the dish, I forgot to buy them at the store. No matter. It wasn’t a crucial part of the chicken pot pie.
I turned my attention to making the sauce next or as I like to call it, Pot Pie Goo. Keeping the burner on low, I added 1/3 cup butter to the pan, 1/3 cup flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and 1/4 tsp. celery seeds. Now, I’ve never used celery seeds before. I bought them especially for this recipe. I’m not even sure I’d use them in anything else. They have a strange sour kind of flavor, one that I immediately identified with another chicken pot pie. There were a couple times that I forgot my lunch for work and went to the store up the road and bought their chicken pot pies from their deli section. And whenever I ate them, it always tasted like my mouth was drowning in vinegar. It’s because they used WAY TOO MUCH celery seed. Seriously, a little goes a long way.
I let all of these ingredients combine in the pan, stirring constantly with a fork until I had a thick yellow sauce. Next, I added 2/3 cup milk to the pan very slowly, as I stirred it with the sauce. Then, I was to add chicken stock. Well, I didn’t just forget to buy peas… I also forgot to pick up a box of the chicken stock at the store. But… I had a solution! I have a little Tupperware container of powdered chicken stock that my mom bought from a Mennonite store in Upstate New York. It doesn’t contain any MSG, so it’s a little more healthy. If you don’t have any of this miracle chicken stock, you can just use some chicken bullion cubes. I added a spoonful of it to the 1 and 3/4 cups of water, stirred it in, and then gradually poured it into the sauce. Then, I turned up the heat a little and waited for it to thicken, stirring occasionally.
While it thickened, I pulled my Pillsbury unbaked pie crusts from the fridge and unrolled one into my 9 inch pie plate. Then, I poured the chicken and carrots into the bottom of the pie and spread them around evenly. If you want a really flaky crust, you can put the bottom crust in the oven and bake it for 5 minutes just so that it’s firm. It isn’t necessary though. Then, I poured the thickened sauce over the chicken and carrots. Then, I unrolled the top crust over the pie, and pinched both crusts together to get a good seal. I even went so far as to give them scalloped edges for a real professional look! After cutting a few slits in the top crust, I put it into the oven at 425 for a half an hour.
About 25 minutes in, the pie crust was nice and brown on top. I took it out then, not bothering to wait the extra five minutes. If I had, it might have burned… like a certain baklava cooking adventure…
I didn’t eat this pie until the next night when I had my mom over for dinner but after a quick reheat in the oven, the pie was steaming again. And boy, did it hit the spot! I had a second helping which is pretty much unheard of. Ever since the ulcer, I’ve been eating pretty meager meals and certainly not many that warrant a second helping. But my stomach wanted more!
This is my first success for September and I’m feeling pretty good about it. So next week, we’re going to switch it up a little and try this little recipe which I found on Pinterest. (My friend, Celena, from the “Evil Cthulhu Cookie” adventure got me hooked on it.) Pumpkin Pie Croissants are next week. Stay tuned!