The Ides of March

DSC_0268My southern husband is not a fan of snow, sleet, freezing rain or wind. Unfortunately, it is winter here. He keeps our home at a temperature similar to a balmy day in the Bahamas. As we awaited a recent blizzard, I hoped to avoid waking up with a snowbound gloomy husband. In that spirit, I suggested a challenge…more of a bribe really. I would make his favorite lunch, if he’d stay upbeat throughout the storm.

While he pondered the ramifications of this, I decided to up the ante. “Remember when you were courting me, and you made me a lemon meringue pie? If you keep smiling at me all day, while maintaining a buoyant attitude, and make me a lemon meringue pie, I will make your very favorite chicken pot pie.”

He gave me a skeptical smile.

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Lunch was on the horizon, so I went to work, holding up my end of the bargain. I’ve tried every brand of chicken pot pie on the market, both fresh and frozen. How can it be that they all taste so artificial?
Of course, there’s no love mixed in. Love is a key ingredient.
I put together the crust using Ina Garten’s reliable recipe from Barefoot Contessa Family Style, then I turned to The Pioneer Woman Cooks for her chicken pot pie recipe. Oh my- there is a lot of love in this simple dish-
and just a crust on the top, making room for more good stuff beneath.
Chicken Pot Pie
3 celery stalks
3 medium carrots, peeled
1 large yellow onion
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
1 chicken bouillon cube (I didn’t use)
1/4 cup white wine, optional
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup heavy cream
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed
Black pepper
2 cups or more cooked chicken
 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Begin by finely dicing the vegetables. Slice the celery stalks into narrow strips, then slice in the other direction to create a fine dice. Repeat this process with the carrots, and the onion.

Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Saute until the vegetables start to turn translucent, a couple of minutes.

Add 2 cups of the shredded chicken and stir to combine. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the vegetables and chicken, and stir to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring gently.

Pour in the chicken broth, stirring constantly. Stir in the bouillon cube and wine if using. The flour will combine with the chicken to create a delicious gravy. Next, add the peas.

Pour in the cream and stir. Allow the mixture to cook over low heat, thickening gradually, about 4 minutes. Season with the thyme, salt and pepper, and remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Pour the chicken mixture into a deep pie pan or small casserole dish.

Roll out the pastry so that it’s 1 inch larger than the pan. Place the crust on top of the chicken mixture and cut small slits in the top. Press the crust gently into the sides of the dish to seal.

Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

DSC_0275This was a divine lunch, well deserved after a morning of shoveling, and a smile or two.

“Honey, when is my Lemon Meringue Pie going to be ready?? Honey???”

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