Thursday, January 03, 2013

Comfort Food: Chicken Potpie

I am not, and have never been, a fan of the potpie. Growing up, potpies were bought frozen and had too much crust and not enough flavor. And they didn’t lend themselves to drowning in some sort of sauce of my youth (ketchup, A-1, salsa) to amp up the flavor. But last year, when I was tending to my mom in the hospital and Brilliant Daughter was doing all the cooking for the family, she made this exceptional dish. A potpie that not only tasted wonderful, but was a comfort—to my stomach, to my soul, to my heart. I had seconds, and even thirds. (I think I must have needed a lot of comfort!)

I’ve actually resisted making it again, because even though the food memories are wonderful, the circumstances and body memories during that difficult time thwarted my effort. But I was ready to try it again. I think you’ll agree that it is worth the effort.

I started by completing my mis en place. (Prepping all the ingredients ahead of time allows me to visit with my family more during our weekly Sunday dinners.) I diced up our tasty home-cured and smoked bacon, chopped the vegetables, ran to the garden to cut some marjoram, and instead of using shredded chicken (from a purchased rotisserie chicken), I made use of the leftover turkey from First Christmas. (Yes, we had 2 Christmas’ this year!) I hate to let anything go to waste!

Once you have the ingredients in place, the prep time is about 30 minutes and then the potpie gets popped it in the oven for an additional 22-25 minutes. You could actually do the prep a few hours ahead of time, leaving the puff pastry off and completing that final step before putting the potpie in the oven for the final bake. 

This is not a terribly complicated recipe, and using a shredded rotisserie chicken cuts down on prep work, so think about treating your family to a bit of comfort…and enjoy those leftovers.

Chicken Pot Pie

5 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, diced into ½-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
12 ounces peeled whole baby carrots, cut in half
1 8-ounce package trimmed haricots verts or other slender green beans, halved crosswise
4 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon crème fraîche
3 cups coarsely shredded chicken from 1 small purchased roasted chicken (skin removed)
Fresh ground pepper
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels.

Add onion to drippings in skillet and sauté until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add carrots, haricot vert and marjoram, stirring for 1 minute. Add broth and bring to boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium-high and boil until vegetables are almost tender and some liquid is reduced, about 8 minutes. Stir in 2/3 cup crème fraîche, chicken, and bacon. Bring to simmer. Season with pepper.

Pour chicken mixture into a deep-dish pie pan or cast iron stewpot.

Unfold puff pastry onto work surface; roll out to be slightly larger than your dish. Top chicken mixture with pastry; fold edges down onto rim. Brush top of crusts (not edges) with remaining 1 tablespoon crème fraîche. Cut small X in center of crust; pierce all over with fork. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is heated through, about 22 minutes.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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