Monday, April 11, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Cheap Eat Challenge: Can a family of 6 eat cheap and tasty (and pretty healthy too) on $6/day? Let's find out.

I call this "sunburst of the heart" pie, and don't even think of stealing my brilliant design because it's, like, trademarked or whatever due to the utter genius of my artistry. It's going on display next month at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so if you think it's just a dowdy pie in an old-ish looking pan with a blob of extra dough in the middle, that just shows how little you know about modern art. It also shows that I did not get one single decent picture of the cut pie. Alas.

So we got our dreary rainy day. Perfect for chicken pot pie. If it's hot in your neck of the woods, I feel confident that more chilly/rainy/drearyness will come and go before things level out. So put this in your back pocket and maybe freeze some of the leftover meat from your next roast chicken. Because chicken pot pie is an excellent leftover meal.

Which is a lot of the appeal. If you have a little chicken and some broth or drippings, plus some vegetables--even if they're not the perkiest--hanging out in your refrigerator, then you just need a dough and you're good to go. We didn't have enough meat for a full sized chicken pot pie. I was going to make little ones in ramekins (which would have been lovely), but utter laziness won out and I discovered that if you simply fold the sides of your pie crust down a bit, you can make them fit whatever size fillings you've got. Add the sunburst of heart design, and you've got yourself a winner.

Chicken Pot Pie
adapted from The New Best Recipe
Serves 4-8
Prep time: 10 minutes (if chicken already made; otherwise, you'll need an extra 20 minutes to boil some chicken meat)
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cost: $4.40
(crust: 1.35, chicken: 2.00, vegetables: .50, flour: .05, butter: .30, milk: .20)

Note on vegetables: Use what you've got. I used carrots, kale, and peas. But celery, potatoes, corn, beans, asparagus, mushrooms, or pretty much any vegetable would work as well.

1 recipe Basic Butter Pie Crust
1-1 1/2 lb shredded chicken (I used only 8 oz. and folded my pie crust down)
2 C chicken broth (chicken gravy will also work. I used broth and added the very flavorful drippings from the chicken I'd roasted. If you broth is weak, you may want to add 1 chicken buillion cube)
1 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp onion powder)
3 medium carrots, diced
1-2 large kale leaves, shredded with the ribs removed and chopped
3/4 C peas
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 C flour
1 1/2 C milk
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh)
3 Tbsp lemon juice (I forgot this, but it's supposed to brighten up the color of the vegetables; Best Recipe says sherry works even better, but we never have that around so lemon juice it is)
2-3 Tbsp fresh parsley (optional)
Make the pie dough.

If not using a leftover chicken, boil your chicken until it's no longer pink. Shred the chicken.

Heat oven to 400 while you prepare the vegetables.

If using leftover vegetables, warm them before proceeding. If using raw vegetables (as I did), heat oil in large frying pan. Add onion, carrots, and any other uncooked hard vegetables (so no peas, tomatoes, spinach, or cooked stuff). Saute for a couple minutes, then add the kale stems. Saute another minute and add the kale leaves. When the leaves are wilty and the vegetables are somewhat tender (but not mushy or overly soft). Salt and pepper to taste and take the vegetables off the heat and set them aside with the shredded chicken.

Heat butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook about a minute. Add chicken broth, any drippings you have, milk, and thyme. Bring to simmer and simmer until the sauce thickens (probably 1-2 minutes). Stir in lemon juice if using.

Pour sauce over chicken/vegetable mixture. Add any soft vegetables (peas, tomatoes, corn from a can, cooked leftover veggies, etc.) Add parsley if using. Stir and add salt and pepper if needed. (You can do this early and keep it in the fridge till dinner if you wish. Just warm the mixture before pouring in the pie crust.)

Pour mixture into pie crust. Cover with second pie crust and seal the edges. Cut vents in the dough, add the leftover blobs of dough in artistic and beautiful ways, as seen above.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until the pasty is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Let it sit for a few minutes and then cut right in and serve.


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