My son has been begging for me to make chicken pot pies for dinner this weekend. His list of dishes to be served for the dinner was quite long; from the main dish, side dishes, to dessert and drink but I wasn't too keen to make all of them since I had a full and busy week. In the end I managed to make chicken pot pies from scratch for him. Oh, and he helped too. A bit of honest fact about me: I'm not a mom who loves to have my kid in the kitchen since I prefer to make things in a methodical and accurate manners (read: neat freak and controlling person) :) Also, I'm no fun to be around in the kitchen since I tend to bark orders around so people in my household tend to leave me alone. But honestly, I love having people in my kitchen, it's just they would need to be in different roles that what they'd like to do otherwise like helping cleaning the countertops, washing the dishes, and vacuuming and moping the floor. See, no wonder nobody wants to be with me in the kitchen :)
But lately I've come to realize that maybe I shouldn't be so strict in the kitchen. Any instructions on how to cook and bake would be helpful for him when he's older. So I let him help me quite a bit in making the dish. His job was to chop vegetables and to stir things in the pot, starting with mushrooms, carrots, and then pearl onions. Drops of hot oil jumped from the pot and he would in turn jump away from the stove :) He also helped dry up dishes (I love it, I really should ask him to help more). I knew he's quite proud of what he's accomplished because he mentioned to my mom that he helped me making it. And my mom said wholeheartedly that it tasted delicious. I've read that when kids help prepare the food, they'd likely to eat everything on the plate. I saw that this is true since my son ate mushrooms and pearl onions, two ingredients that he usually won't touch.
The chicken pot pie was truly delicious, the crust is crumbly and buttery; the one thing that I love to nibble on. I didn't get to make every dishes that my son asked but he didn't mind it and you know what, he's already planning the next set of meal!
Chicken Pot Pie
For the crust:
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 oz. (12 Tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
For the filling:
5 Tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb. medium cremini mushrooms, quartered (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed and patted dry
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick (1 1/2 cups)
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 oz. (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
2 1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups lower-salt chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
1 3/4 lbs. red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice (5 cups)
1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
Make the crust:
Put the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the butter pieces are the size of peas, 10 to 12 pulses. Drizzle 3 Tablespoons cold water over the mixture. Pulse until the dough forms moist crumbs that are just beginning to clump together, 8 or 9 pulses more.
Turn the crumbs onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gather into a pile. With the heel of your hand, gently smear the dough away from you until the crumbs come together (two or three smears should do it). Shape the dough into a 4-inch square, wrap tightly in the plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
Make the filling:
Heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil in a 7- to 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot. Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper. Working in two batches, brown the chicken well on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side, adding 1 Tablespoon oil with the second batch. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces (it's fine if the chicken isn't fully cooked; it will finish cooking later). Put the chicken in a large bowl.
Add 1 Tablespoon oil to the pot and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add the mushrooms. Cook without stirring for 1 minute. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl of chicken.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 Tablespoon oil and then add the onions and carrot to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the edges are browned, 8 to 9 minutes. Add the garlic and stir constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Scrape the vegetables into the bowl of chicken and mushrooms.
Melt the butter in the same pot over low heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the texture, which will be clumpy at first, loosens and smooths out, about 4 minutes. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and half-and-half. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom the pan. Reduce the heat to low and add the potatoes, chicken, and vegetables (and any accumulated juice), and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Partially cover the pot and simmer gently (adjusting the heat as necessary), stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and carrots are just tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Stir in the peas, sherry, parsley, thyme, and mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Assemble the pot pies:
Distribute the filling evenly among six ovenproof bowls and ramekins that are 2 to 3 inches deep and hold at least 2 cups.
Let the dough soften slightly at room temperature, about 20 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle. With a round cookie cutter (or using a plate as a guide), cut 6 dough circles that are slightly wider than the inner diameter of the bowls (re-roll the scraps if necessary). Cut one small X in the center of each circle.
Top each bowl of stew with a dough round. With your fingertips, gently press the dough down into the edge of the stew, so that it flares up the sides of the bowl.
Bake the pies:
Position a rack in the center the oven and heat the oven to 425ºF. Put the pot pies on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the crust is deep golden-brown, about 45 minutes. Cool on a rack for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
Source: Fine Cooking, March 3, 2011.