Food
4:30 am
Wed March 28, 2012

Best ever chicken pot pie, plus French toast

In this week's Food for Thought, Nancy talks about her chicken pot pie recipe and I pile in with an abbreviated list of the things I think  I make the best of. We also recruited KPLU newsies Paula Wissel and Erin Hennessey along with production maven Nick Morrison to brag on what  their significant others say are their culinary triumphs.  

Click where it says "Listen" to hear all about it.

When I told our Weekend Morning Edition and Grooveyard host Kevin Kniestedt about this segment he was miffed not to be included since he claims to make the best French toast. Kevin adds Grand Marnier to the egg batter, dips thick slices of French bread in it, refrigerates them overnight, then griddles them brown and finishes in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Sounds good, no? 

Let's hear about what those around you say you make that's "the best."  Now here's Nancy's pot pie recipe.

Chicken Pot Pie

from American Home Cooking by Cheryl Alters Jamison & Bill Jamison

CRUST

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, well chilled

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, well chilled

6 to 8 tablespoons chicken stock, well chilled, or ice water

FILLING

4 medium leeks

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

3 cups chicken stock

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste

1 3/4 pounds bone-in chicken parts, such as breasts, thighs, or a combination

1/2 pound red waxy potatoes, peeled if you wish, and diced

1 1/2 cups diced carrots

1 generous cup pearl onions, peeled, trimmed, and halved through the stem end

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen

3 tablespoons minced parsley

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Prepare the crust, first cutting the butter into quarters lengthwise and then into small squares. Pulse the flour and salt together in a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the mixture and quickly pulse several times just to submerge them in the flour. Scoop the shortening in small spoonfuls, scatter them over the flour-butter mixture, and pulse again quickly several more times until they disappear into the flour too. Dump the dough into a large bowl, sprinkle 4 tablespoons of the stock over it, and lightly combine with your fingers. Add more stock, 1 tablespoon at a time, rubbing it in with your fingers until the dough holds together when you press it together. Stop, it’s ready. Divide the dough in half and lightly pat each half into a fat disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare the filling, first cleaning the leeks well of any grit. Slice them in half vertically and then slice the white and light green parts into half-moons. You want about 3 generous cups.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute them until very soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour in the stock, add thyme, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the chicken. Bring the stock just to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover the pot. Cook covered for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked through. Remove the chicken with tongs and set it aside until cool enough to handle. Add to the stock the potatoes, carrots, and pearl onions. Cover again and continue cooking over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.

Roll out the pie dough into 2 thin crusts an inch or two larger than a 9-inch pie pan. Arrange the bottom crust in the pie pan and refrigerate it and the other crust for at least 15 additional minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Meanwhile, slice the chicken into small cubes. In a small bowl, mix together the flour with the dry mustard and stir in the half-and-half until well combined. Pour the mixture into the vegetables and simmer uncovered briefly until thickened. Stir in the chicken, peas, parsley and more salt if needed.

Pour the hot filling into the chilled crust, arrange the other crust over the filling, and crimp the edges neatly. Cut several steam vents in the top crust and brush with the egg white. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. and continue baking for about 30 additional minutes, until the crust is golden brown and flaky. Let the pie sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing it into wedges.

"Have no fear of perfection–you'll never reach it."

– Salvador Dali

Food for Thought” is a weekly KPLU feature covering the world of food as well as the thinking that goes into it. The feature is published here and airs on KPLU 88.5 every Wednesday during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.