For years, my mother owned one of the scariest microwave ovens
in the world. One of her brothers passed it on to her around 1978 when he upgraded to a newer model. It looked like something that belonged on a space ship, big and silver and scientific. As I recall, it transformed our lives. Scrambled eggs in the microwave (no pan to clean!), frozen macaroni and cheese...and my favourite: chicken pot pie. The ultimate comfort food.
How carefully I would eat the crust, trying desperately to make it last so as to have a tiny bit with each bite. Every time, I burned the roof of my mouth on the hot chicken gravy.
So tonight, I took the last of that roast chicken (you are probably tired of hearing about that chicken, I imagine) and made my modern version of Chicken Pot Pie (Without the Pot).
Why no pot? For a long time I didn't have any bowls that were oven safe. Then there was the fact that I always felt pot pies don't have quite enough crust. So instead, I make a kind of a meat pasty with pate feuilleté. It's pretty to look at, satisfyingly crusty and keeps the chicken hot enough to burn the roof of your mouth.
The ingredients can vary somewhat, but tonight the recipe went as follows:
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cooked chicken meat
2 chicken breasts (if you can scrape together a cup and a half of cooked meat, skip this - it's much better with leftover roasted chicken meat)
margarine (the cat got at the butter last night - bad kitty!)
1 clove of garlic
1 small potato
1 medium carrot
1/2 cup peas
1/4 cup capers
1 tsp tarragon (frozen)
2 heaping tsp of mustard
2 heaping Tbs of crème fraiche
1/4 cup wine
1/4 cup chicken broth (in this case from the roasted bird)
1 tsp flour
2 pastry rounds
There is a certain amount of prep work for this recipe, but it is worth it in the end. Chop the garlic finely and start it cooking in a little of the butter (if you have any) or margarine (sigh). Roughly chop the onion and add to the pan. While the onions are cooking, cut the raw chicken breast in small pieces. If you have enough cooked meat and can skip the raw chicken breasts the prep is much quicker. Remove the onions and garlic from the frying pan and add the chicken along with a little more butter or margarine. Turn the heat up fairly high so that you can brown the chicken and cook it quickly. Once the chicken is browned on all sides, add the wine to deglaze the pan. When the wine has reduced to about half, turn down the heat and add the rest of the ingredients (vegetables duly sliced, cubed or chopped as appropriate). Taste the sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the flour over the sauce and give it a quick stir.
Assembly: roll out the first pastry and cut it straight down the center. Pile as much filling as you think the pie can hold on opposite sides of each of the pastry halves. View image
Fold the tops over the filling and gently pinch together the edges of the pastry. You want to seal it pretty well or else you'll have sauce leaking out of the pastry onto your oven floor and burning there. Repeat with the second pastry. Bake them in a hot oven (200c/400f) for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown on the outside and bubbling inside.
The critic was very impressed. And yes, I did burn the roof of my mouth. Some things never change.
It's my second favourite way to use up roast poultry leftovers. The best way is a sandwich with just meat and lots and lots of mayo. Mmmmm....
This recipe, however, goes a lot further! Serve it as a light lunch or with a substantial salad for dinner.