Tag Archives: chicken

Hearty Chicken Pot Pie

When it comes to comfort food, I think it’s safe to say that chicken pot pie is the most popular.  My credo to cooking has always been to take old favorites and give them somewhat of a face-lift and this blog entry is all about doing just that.  First of all, forgive me while I preach, the most crucial ingredient is the chicken.  I buy all of my meats from Whole Foods; however, I especially like their poultry and the cut that I get is the “split chicken breast”.  Essentially, that just means bone-in and skin-on chicken breasts.  To me, these are virtually fail-proof.  For this recipe, I use 3 chicken breasts to give the dish that hearty feel that I love.  Next, lube up-for lack of a better term-your chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and pepper, and place into a 375 degree oven and cook for 30-35 minutes.  From there, leave them to rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes–this will ensure the most juicy, most flavorful chicken you’ve ever had.

Simultaneously, while the chicken is cooking, I normally get started on my pastry dough.  For the pastry dough:

-1 1/2 cups flour
-2 pinches of salt
-1 1/2 sticks of cold butter
-5 tablespoons of ice cold water

Pour all of the ingredients, except for the water, into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse the mixture about 8 to 10 times until the butter turns into the size of peas.  After you have reached the desired consitency, slowly stream in the cold water while pulsing the mixture.  Next, layout a sheet of cling wrap and dump the pastry dough out onto the cling wrap and form a disk with your hands.  Lastly, wrap up the disk and refrigerate for the remainder of the chicken cook-time and resting.

Finally, the aromatics–the vegetables.  I always start with bacon to use the residual fat as flavored cooking oil.  Then, I add my flavor boosters–my mirepoix.  For those of you that don’t know what a mirepoix is, it’s essentially a classic french aromatic bunch of carrots, celery and onion.  Any additions of vegetables from there are things that I deem either flavorful or seasonal.  After the vegetables have picked up the brown bits from the pan and softened a bit, I then sift in about 2 tablespoons of flour.  Be sure to stir around a bit and let the flour cook off some of its chalky taste.  Next, add a cup of vegetable stock and a cup of whole milk and bring the entire mixture to a rolling boil.  Remember, nothing comes to its fullest thickening potential until it has come to a boil. Take this time to season with salt and pepper–it’s all about slowly building flavor.  Next, remove the skin from the rested chicken and cube up into bite-size chunks–add to the mixture.

Last, but not least, scatter flour on a board and roll out your chilled pastry dough.  Add your pot pie filling into an oven-proof baking dish and top it with your pastry.  Then, seal the dough with egg wash and make some slits for the steam to escape and ensure a crispy crust.

Place the pot pie into an oven and bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes, or until the crust is browned. Enjoy!

Windy City Pot Pie~

Now that the year is coming to a slow conclusion, I feel as though I have more time to dedicate to my cooking and my blog.  With the cold weather here to stay, the first thing I feel like making is my famous roasted chicken potpie.  The ingredients to accompany the chicken will differ with whatever I may fancy at that moment in time.  The picture will show an array of browned winter-welcoming vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, celery, mushrooms, etc.  It doesn’t hurt to “guild the lily” a bit by having the entire pie topped with a parmesan-crusted puff pastry—yum.  The fact of the matter is, when Chicago’s winter hits, you better be ready for it and fast.  The only way I know how to properly prepare for the windy city’s fury is to create meals that will warm that of my shaky bones. 

To me, the most important step in this entire process is finding a really good quality chicken.  I just recently went to my local butcher on West Randolph and picked up a whole Amish chicken.  Not only does this type of chicken have a hormone/antibiotic free flesh, but also, provides a very meaty bird.  There is nothing more irritating than cutting into a chicken to find that there is hardly any meat on your soon to be dinner.  When butchering the bird, I prefer to leave all cuts bone-in and skin-on.  This imparts a great flavor and an immense amount of moistness to the meat.  After you have butchered that of your chicken, rub your pieces with olive oil and sprinkle with liberal amounts of salt and pepper.  Lastly, sprinkle with your favorite mixture of minced herbs and roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes. 

While the chicken is cooking, I take advantage of this downtime and start getting my filling for the potpie prepped and cooked.  Cover the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pan with olive oil and a teaspoon of butter and start rendering some bacon cut into lardons.  After the bacon has rendered and is crispy, remove it so that you can sauté your vegetables in progression.  I always start with my aromatics—onions, carrots, celery and then garlic.  From there, you may add in any vegetables that you like.  Next, start on your cream-based filling.  Traditionally, this process begins with a roux to thicken some chicken stock and/or milk.  My approach toward this is to simply pour a quart of heavy cream into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  The cream will continue to raise twice its size amidst the boil and then collapse; it should do this 2 times and then be perfectly reduced.  Turn off the burner and set aside to rest.  From there, check on those vegetables of yours and make sure that they are browning nicely.  Of course, when browning anything there is going to be a brown film in the bottom of the pan—take this time to deglaze the pan with some sherry. Sprinkle with a little more fresh herbs and then add the cream reduction to the pan of vegetables.  When the smells in your house begin to make your neighbors jealous, you can give yourself a pat on the back and then take a bite in front of them.  After the chicken has become all browned and cooked through, set aside to rest.  Next, peel up the skin, cube up the chicken off the bone and toss into the vegetable cream sauce. 

Finally, take some store-bought puff pastry and roll out to fit your ovenproof baking dish.  Rub the perimeter of the baking dish with a beaten egg and then fit your puff pastry cap to the dish.  Brush the outside of the pastry with the rest of the beaten egg, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake until puffed and golden.  Not only will this dish make you want to hibernate in the house until it’s gone; it will warm the soul and give you an immense sense of accomplishment.  Hopefully you all enjoy this dish as much as I do.  

Rainy Day Snack~

There is nothing more gratifying than a simple chicken salad on a cold, rainy day.  As always, I try to give all standard recipes somewhat of a “face-lift”; so this curried chicken salad with an apple and jicama slaw is just the way to go about it.

In an attempt to save some of my secrets, I will tell you what I do as opposed to give up the recipe, tee hee.  I start out by picking out some bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and roast them with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper (at 425F….also, rub some curry powder underneath the skin of the breast).  After they have cooked, allow them to rest so that they can re-absorb some of their juices.  Remove the skin and cut the chicken into cubes, off of the bone.

Next, whip up your favorite “chicken salad” dressing and mix that with the chicken.  I will say, my mother used to make her chicken salads with Miracle Whip–this probably explains why I hated chicken salad growing up.  To me, there is nothing more suitable than REAL mayonnaise.  If you make your own, even better.

Now for the slaw….you basically want to make a “matchstick” cut on that of your apple and jicama.  In other words, julienne both of them.  For those of you who have not had jicama, it is the love child of an apple and potato and it is amazing.  Again, for the dressing of your slaw, use whatever you would like.  Some people prefer a “sweet and sour” slaw–it is whatever you fancy.  I fancy a buttery croissant to absorb the remnants of my chicken salad and slaw, so that is what the picture will display.  I also pair it with a roasted corn and bluberry salad amidst the summer time–the accompaniments will change with the seasons, of course.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Caleb Fortney~