Saturday, January 14, 2012

Comfort Food meets Gastronomy

So I have these great little 7 inch cast iron skillets that I just feel like I don't use enough.  They're super cute and I have this love for individually portioned things.  The other caveat of tonight's dinner is that it had to work well with beer.  There's a Patriot's play off game on and wine pairing just doesn't work as well with football.  My solution to the dinner dilemma... Chicken Pot Pie!  

So the first issue I encountered in my pie construction: I grew up on Willow Tree and Hartley's pies (if you're from Rhode Island, you know what I'm talking about) and detest chunky vegetables in my pie.  I do however like the sweetness that the carrots, peas and celery impart on the bland chicken.  Solution: construct the gravy not only with stock, but freshly pressed vegetable juice.  You get fantastic vegetal notes and the sweetness I was looking for without actually having to compromise on the "purist" nature of the pie.  Win/Win!

Now I'm not typically an advocate of short cuts, but one concession I do tend to make is frozen puffed pastry.  Have you ever tried to make puffed pastry from scratch?  It's difficult, messy and time consuming and honestly, just not worth it when Pepperidge Farm puts out a perfectly adequate substitute that involves opening a box.  

The Pot Pie before the pastry crust is added

Chicken Pot Pie
2 medium sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, etc.)
2 cups duck stock (chicken stock can be substituted)
1/4 cup finely chopped white onions
3 carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 cup English peas
4 tablespoons pale ale
4 tablespoons heavy cream
3 teaspoons cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste
1 package frozen puffed pastry (sheets or shells)

- Preheat over to 425 degrees
- Trim and clean chicken breasts
- Season each side with salt, pepper and fresh herb mixture
- Bake the chicken breasts for 18 minutes or until they reach 150 degrees internal temperature
- Using a centrifuge juicer, juice carrots, celery and peas (this should yield about 1/2 cup of juice)
- In a large skillet, combine stock, ale and onions and simmer for 5 minutes
- Add vegetable juice and corn starch
- Whisk continuously until there are no lumps from the cornstarch
- Simmer on low heat for 8-10 minutes
- Add cream and continue whisking until mixture begins to thicken
- Season with salt and pepper to taste
- Dice chicken into 1 inch cubes and place in a single layer in the bottom of the skillets
- Pour gravy over the chicken ensuring that all pieces are completely covered
- Cut your puffed pastry dough into bit sized pieces and arrange on top of the skillet
- Bake skillets for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown

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