Nothing says southern cooking like homemade pot pie. Let me tell you how thrilled Jim was when he heard that I was making this from scratch. I had actually planned to make this last week and made a special trip to the grocery store to pick up a few key ingredients, like chicken, since I was making a CHICKEN pot pie, not a Vegetable Pot Pie. The week was busier than I planned and when asked to meet the girlfriends for a beer at 5 PM, I quickly chose to happy hour (used as a verb) rather than cook. Truth is, this recipe intimidated me…it was the pastry I tell you. I have a brain block when it comes to making and baking homemade pastries and breads. Jim was sorely disappointed when he came home to find me eating leftovers when he was planning on chowing down on pot pie.
I waited until this past weekend when I had plenty of free time to devote to this dish. Here is how I made homemade chicken pot pie by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. Thanks Kahakai Kitchen for choosing the Vegetable Pot Pie Recipe.
On to the dreaded pastry dough. Here is what you need:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
Wait! Before I start doing anything, lets open an Oregon organic pale ale. Okay, now we are ready to begin.
For the pastry, I used my cuisinart and added 3 cups flour. Wow, this nearly fills my cuisinart bowl! Then add salt, baking powder and pulse to blend.
Now add vegetable shortening and cold unsalted butter.
Ina says to pulse 10 times until mixture resembles small peas. Mine does not look like small peas after pulsing for 50 times. I opened it up and tried to turn it over by hand, but this doesn’t work well either. With the cuisinart on the mixture has stopped moving except for the bottom half inch where the blades are spinning. Not good.
So I went ahead and adding my ice water, hoping the mixture would blend with the added liquid.
This does nothing but compact the dough more.
So I turned it out onto a floured surface and had a mess on my hands. The dough was dry on top and wet on bottom. I kneaded by hand until mixed a little and then patted into small disk.
Wrapped in plastic and put in fridge for 30 minutes to "rest." Dough can be so fickle sometimes!
Okay, let's check the chicken. Not done yet. I put a thermometer in one of the meaty breast and stuck it back in for another 15 minutes. That's exactly what it needed.
Wash and dice a potato.
This is fennel.
Melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat. This is a lot of butter.
Add sliced onion and fennel. You know what fennel smells like? Absynthe, a drink with a long and controversial history, enjoyed its greatest popularity in late 19th century Paris, when Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Verlaine, Ernest Hemmingway and Oscar Wilde were among its most ardent fans. It was an inseparable part of artistic life during that period of time. It is said to have inspired fine literature and great paintings.
Traditional absinthe has been illegal to sell in the U.S. since 1912, because it contains the chemical thujone. However, in 2007 some products labelled as "absinthe" were approved for sale in the United Stated. The situation is somewhat complex, but the short version is that the agency that now regulates alcohol in the U.S. (the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) defines "thujone free" (an FDA requirement for any food made with Absinthe's defining herb wormwood) as meaning less than 10 parts-per-million (10mg/L) thujone. It is an ongoing debate whether "thujone free" absinthe should be considered authentic, with the common understanding being that traditional absinthe contained higher levels of thujone but current manufacturers arguing that vintage absinthe had similarly low levels of thujone. Whatever the truth of their arguments, the modern low-thujone absinthes are being widely publicized as the first legal absinthes in the U.S. since the 1912 ban. (according to this web site)
Anyway, I once took a shot of imitation Absynthe with my brother and it tasted the way fennel smells. I didn't care for the liquor too much, but hopefully I like fennel cooked in this meal.
This got nice and thick.
Slowly add chicken stock, pernod (which is a liquor that taste like fennel, I bet absenth would work here...but I have none.) Instead I'm using a splash of white wine. Add safron, salt and pepper.
I turned heat to medium-low and brought it to a boil, stirring almost constantly. This thickened up really nicely. Ina says to make sure this is highly seasoned. So I tasted at this point and decided to add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper.
Add to cream mixture along with actual CREAM.
I added the potatoes last so they didn't get stirred to death and fall apart.
I pulled the chilled dough out of the fridge and cut into four pieces.
With one fourth of the dough I began to roll it out into a circle. And this is where disaster struck. The dough was not pulled together like I had thought. It was way too dry and fell apart. How could I have fixed this?
I am sick to my stomach.
Divide mixture evenly into four serving bowls. Now, I think the ramekins that Ina used were much larger. I like this size ramekins, but only have three (should have four but not sure where the other one is right now.) Top with pastry, or in my case, a biscuit. ...sigh...
Brushed the tops with a beaten egg and a little water. Sprinkled with sea salt and pepper. Into the oven at 400 for 10 minutes.
Bingo! Flaky and golden crust.