So, most of you know that I participated in Project Food Blog this year. I made it to Round Three, at which point the bus stopped and let me off on the side of the road. I had to walk home, and I just made it back this morning. I'm exhausted. I am consoling myself with the thought that, if I had stayed on through a few more rounds, my walk home would be that much longer.
I just want to give all of you who left kind comments and gave me advice about taking pictures and voted and supported me a great big Thank You! I have met many, many wonderful folks through this challenge, some of whom were let off the bus with me, and others who waved at us through the back window as the bus pulled away. One of them even slapped a hastily scrawled sign up that read, "Wish You Were Still Here." I wish all of you who are still on the ride the best of luck; it has been a real honor to count myself among all the talented competitors.
Having just returned home, slightly dusty from the road, I decided that I would make myself a wonderful, homey, unpretentious, warming and comforting chicken pot pie. Yes, it really does require that many adjectives. I also want to share it with everyone involved with Project Food Blog, especially those who worked feverishly to deliver some really excellent photo-tutorials for Challenge #4. I think all of them need a nice big bowl of comfort right now, too.
Oh, and as another huge Thank You to all my Twitter buddies who shared the way they make Cool Collages, I have made several to insert into this post. Yay!
Use your favorite all-butter pie dough recipe (or you could also use lard), but add freshly ground black pepper, a little extra salt and some poultry seasoning to the dry ingredients. Add in your cold, cubed butter, and then toss and pinch/rub the fat into the flour until it's the texture of coarse corn meal. Don't worry--the dough Nazis will not show up to check. Just make sure the dough is fairly mealy.
Add a little ice water and toss to combine. Do the squeeze test. If the still-dry-looking dough holds together when you squeeze, you're done. If not, add a bit more ice water and test again. Most likely, it will still look dry even when it does hold together. But just stop. Don't add more water, or you'll just develop more gluten and end up with a sticky Hard To Roll Nightmare of a dough. Err on the side of caution, and drink the leftover ice water, since. I know I will, what with all the Road Dust in my throat.
Once your dough passes the Squeeze Test, sort of smoosh it all down into an Evenish Layer in the bottom of your bowl. Then, cleave it in twain. You can use a sword, if you have one; I used my bench knife. That's right, just Back Off.
Get out two sheets of parchment paper, and shape each half of your pastry into aPuckish Shape that mirrors your baking dish. Mine dish was rectangular, so my puck was Square-ish. If you prefer a Circular Vessel, make your puck round. Roll out between the parchment to a thickness of about 1/8". For those of you who are Metric folks, that's prolly about 3-ishmm. Check that your dough is large enough to cover your Vessel by turning said vessel upside down on top of the dough and Making Sure. Once you're Sure, throw the dough in the freezer while you make the Pie Guts.
2 parts diced onion
1 part diced carrot
1 part diced celery
.5 part minced shallot
4 Tablespoons (ish) butter and/or olive oil
4 Tablespoons (ish) flour
salt, pepper and poultry seasoning, to taste
homemade chicken stock (or low-sodium store-bought)
diced potatoes (I like starchy ones--helps to thicken the sauce)
lots of diced or shredded cooked chicken (I prefer thighs)
mixed vegetables (I go for the comforting Veg-All for this--we're talking comfort, not haute cuisine)
heavy cream or half and half to finish
Dice your mirepoix; mince the shallot and sweat in butter/oil in a big old pot over medium heat until limp, translucent and just starting to color. Add the flour and stir around for a couple of minutes. Keep it moving so it doesn't stick or burn.Once your Poix has Mired, add in a bit of stock and bring to a boil. Add more stock (enough so you'll have plenty to fill your cooking vessel). Once you have all the stock in, check to see if you like your Sauce Viscosity. If it's too thin, you can dribble in some cornstarch/flour and water slurry. Just make sure it comes to a boil to cook off the raw starch taste. Once you love your sauce, toss in your vegetables--whatever kinds you like). I tossed in my Veg-All and wee potato dices. If Camille wants to help, be very firm and Do Not Let Her.She can be pretty persistent, but stand firm.
Stir in the cooked chicken, and season your Guts with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning until you Love It. Finish with a healthy splash of cream or half and half for More Dairy Comfort.
In a perfect world, you will cool your Guts to room temperature and then put the pastry lid on. In my world, I just go with it, fully expecting some of the butter in the crust to melt but just Not caring. Because I am in need of Comfort. I did tell you about the bus ride, right?Anyway, just peel off the parchment paper and place your dough on top of your Vessel. Trim to fit, and then bake at 375F until deeply golden brown and bubbling and yummy. During this time, take a nice hot shower or bath and put on your favorite jammies. Have your Beloved make you some tea.
Plate (well, Bowl), and enjoy.