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.  

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