Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trying out Tyler - Ultimate Chicken Pot Pie

I am a big fan of Tyler Florence. He makes everything look so easy and delicious on his food shows. Until now, I have primarily been a Tyler Florence fan, however, rarely try out the recipes. I have chosen a few "Ultimate" menus and crossing my fingers the food is as good as it looks.

Watercress Salad with fruit and nuts

The rain has started making an appearance here in the Northwest, perfect weather for Ultimate Chicken Pot Pie. I actually saw the Ultimate Pot Pie episode, but didn't pay much attention to the process, I thought, if Tyler can make a whole meal in the time the show is on, how hard can it be. Well, don't believe what you see. I found the recipe on the FoodNetwork website, along with the watercress salad and mashed potatoes Tyler made on the show. I read the recipes and the reviews. The reviews were good and bad.

I don't remember making Chicken Pot Pie before, especially since I doubt I would have wanted to deal with the pie dough. On the recipe difficulty was listed as "Easy" and the total cooking time, 1.5 hours. Hmmm, not bad. So let's get started. The whole chicken goes into a stock pot, cover with cold water and then add the "chopped" vegetables. Not a big deal. Next bring the water to a boil and then let simmer for 45 minutes. You think to yourself, "I'm halfway done, right?"
Strain the stock, discard the vegetables, and cool the chicken. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Take the chicken and separate all the meat from the bones, remove skin. Now, make the roux, take the frozen puff pastry out to thaw, and chop the parsley and the carrots. The other vegetables were frozen peas and frozen baby white onions. So I made the roux added a lot of salt and pepper, added 6 cups of stock (2 cups less than on the recipe) and then added the chicken and vegetables. Bland, bland, bland. I added more salt and pepper AND garlic powder. Much better.

I set the chicken aside and turned the heat off. I got started with the mashed potatoes. Basic mashed potato technique, boil, drain, mash, add butter, sour cream, horseradish, salt & pepper. I almost omitted the horseradish, but glad I stuck to the recipe.

Back to the pot pies... filled the large ramekins with chicken mixture, only 3/4 of the way, and then topped with puff pastry. Into a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, wait, wait, DELICIOUS!

Ultimate Chicken Pot Pie
Recipe Adapted from The Ultimate Pot Pie by Tyler Florence
The Ultimate Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Broth:
1 whole chicken, 3 pounds
1 gallon cool water
2 carrots, cut in 2-inch pieces (I used 1 small sweet potato)
2 celery stalks, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 onion, halved
1 head garlic, halved horizontally (I peeled all the cloves)
2 turnips, halved
4 fresh thyme sprigs (I used dried, 1 tsp.)
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 bay leaf
Pot Pie:
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 carrots, cut in 1/2-inch circles
1 bag frozen or fresh pearl onions, see note
1 box frozen or fresh peas, see note
Leaves from 4 fresh parsley sprigs
2 frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 egg mixed with 3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano

Put the chicken in a large stockpot and cover with 1 gallon of cool water. Add the vegetables and herbs and bring the pot up to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim well; then simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, skimming frequently as the oil rises to the surface. What we're doing here is not only cooking the chicken but also creating the base sauce for the pot pie. Remove the chicken to a platter to cool. Continue to cook down the chicken broth for another 15 minutes to condense the flavor; you should have about 8 cups when you're finished. Using a colander, strain the chicken broth into another pot and discard the solids. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat and discard the skin and bones.

Wipe out the stockpot and put it back on the stovetop over medium heat. Melt the butter and then whisk in the flour to form a paste. This is a roux, which will act as a thickener. Now, gradually pour in 8 cups (I only used 6 cups, that was a little too much, 5 cups is best) of the chicken broth, whisking the entire time to prevent lumps. Whisk and simmer for 10 minutes to cook out the starchy taste of the flour and thicken the broth; it should look like cream of chicken soup. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the shredded chicken, carrots, pearl onions, peas, and parsley. Stir to combine and turn off the heat. (I simmered for 20 minutes longer. the onions tasted raw and bitter. I won't use the frozen onions again in the future. I will replace the frozen onions with 1 large chopped Walla Walla Sweet.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lay the thawed puff pastry sheets on a lightly floured, cool surface. Invert individual crocks on the pastry sheet and, using a sharp knife, cut circles around the outside of the bowls, slightly larger than the bowl itself. Fill the crocks 3/4 of the way with the chicken mixture, making sure each serving has a nice amount of chicken, vegetables, and broth. Carefully cap each crock with a pastry circle, pressing the dough around the rim to form a seal. Lightly beat the egg with 3 tablespoons of water to make an egg wash and brush some on the pastry. Sprinkle the pastry with the Parmigiano. Set the crocks on a cookie sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, until puffed and golden.

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