Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie in half the time? Yes, please!

I’ve always dreamed of making a real, honest-to-goodness chicken pot pie with no shortcuts – mainly, no store-bought pastry.
    But I’ve hesitated when considering the possible time involved to make a chicken pot pie entirely from scratch.
    That’s why, when I saw an article in a recent special Cook’s Illustrated publication titled “Chicken Pot Pie in half the time,” you can bet I gave it a look.
    The article promised the Chicken Pot Pie with Savory Crumble Topping (click for the recipe) recipe would not only take less time to make than a traditional chicken pot pie, there would be no sacrifice in flavor.
    The final result was absolutely delicious, and just as I dreamed good homemade chicken pot pie should be. There was definitely no sacrifice in flavor, and the savory crumble topping is actually a tasty step up from a usual chicken pot pie crust.
    However, it did still take a full two hours and 15 minutes of solid work to make on my own.
    If that means it takes nearly five hours to make chicken pot pie with a full homemade crust, count me very glad to have found this “shortcut” version that uses a crumble topping instead.
    I found this chicken pot pie to be best on the day it was made. It will serve four people easily.
    The recipe I linked to above is on a blog, but it is nearly the same as the one I used from the Cook’s Illustrated magazine – note the few differences below, which are in bold.
    Chicken thighs and store-bought low-sodium chicken broth are brought to a simmer. The thighs are simmered until they are cooked through (about eight minutes), then are transferred to a bowl. The broth is poured through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or measuring cup and set aside (ie., don’t pour it down the sink!!!)
    The topping is made by combining flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. Cubes of butter are sprinkled in, and the butter incorporated into the flour with fingers until it resembles cornmeal. Grated parmesan cheese, then heavy cream are stirred in until combined.
   Curiously, the recipe doesn’t say to scatter the dough by ½ inch pieces onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, and it should. After the dough is made, the recipe says simply to place it on the baking sheet. That’s wrong! You don’t want one giant blob of dough being baked – you want small pieces.
    In the same Dutch oven in which the chicken was cooked, onion, carrots and celery are cooked in oil. The chicken is shredded into bite-size pieces in the bowl it is in, and the veggies are added.
    The mushrooms are then cooked in the same Dutch oven, then soy sauce and tomatoes are added and cooked more until the liquid has evaporated and mushrooms have browned. The mushrooms are transferred to the bowl with the chicken and veggies.
    Butter is melted in the pot, then flour, the reserved chicken broth and whole milk are whisked together and simmered. Be sure to let the mixture come to a full simmer, then whisk it constantly for about one minute at the simmering stage until it thickens slightly.
    Lemon juice and parsley are added to the sauce, then the chicken and vegetable mixture are added to the pot.
    The mixture is poured into a 13x9 inch glass baking dish, and the crumble topping is scattered over evenly.
    Bake until the filling is bubbling, about 12 to 15 minutes.

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