August 29, 2006

Oh Fall Where Art Thou

Here in good ole Missouri the temperature is actually below 80 degrees…I can’t believe it. And better news, it’s rained for the past four days here…Too bad it’s too late to green up yards and give gardens that much needed moisture, but some crops around the state might still have a good chance of good yields.

Yummy Pie

I woke up this morning and much to my surprise – it was chilly out! I mean really cold, and it’s still pretty chilly outside. It actually feels like fall time- my FAVORITE time of the year. Fall means so much: butternut squash, warm soups and stews, chili, the beautiful colors of the trees, pumpkins, MU football games, hot cocoa….It’s one of the most beautiful times of the year. Although, it’s times like this that I miss living on the farm and seeing the wonderful Ozark falls.

I mentioned soups and stews, but I left out one of the best fall recipes: Chicken Pot Pie. Nothing is better than pot pies when the weather finally cools off and the tree leaves start to turn. This recipe from will produce six (12) ounce pies or one 2 quart pie. I like to make the 12 ounce pies and freeze some for another time.

Chicken Pot Pie
by Fine

One 3-lb. chicken
3 Tbs. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups 1/2-inch potato chunks (1 to 2 medium peeled potatoes; I prefer Yukon gold)
24 pearl onions, peeled and left whole
2 cups 1/2-inch carrot chunks (2 to 3 medium carrots, peeled)
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
8 mushrooms, halved or quartered
2 Tbs. chopped assorted fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme); more to taste
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen and defrosted)

For the sauce:
4 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-salt canned)
6 Tbs. butter (as needed)
6 Tbs. flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pastry:
1 recipe Rough Puff Pastry for Chicken Pot Pie, refrigerated or make your own, but I will say I even cheat on this part.

For the egg wash:
1 egg yolk, beaten
1/2 cup cream

To roast the chicken and vegetables:
Heat the oven to 375°F. Rub the chicken with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil and sprinkle generously, inside and out, with salt and pepper.

Toss the potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, and mushrooms with the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil and the chopped herbs.

Set the chicken upside down in a large flameproof roasting pan and scatter the vegetables around the chicken. Roast for 1 hour and 15 min., stirring the vegetables several times.

Remove the chicken from the pan to cool. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and reserve them in a bowl, with the peas. Don't rinse out the roasting pan.

To make the sauce:
Pour the fat and juices into a measuring cup or gravy separator. Spoon or pour the fat away from the juice; reserve the fat. Add the juices to the chicken stock. Measure out the fat and add enough butter (if needed) to make 6 Tbs.

Put the roasting pan (which should still have the caramelized bits from the chicken and vegetables) on the stove over medium heat. Pour in the 6 Tbs. of fat and butter mixture; when it's melted and bubbling, add the flour and stir constantly to make a smooth roux. Scrape up any caramelized remains from the chicken and vegetables. Cook the roux, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 5 min. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and simmer. Continue to stir and scrape the bottom of the pan. Cook the sauce for at least 15 min., whisking occasionally, until it's as thick as heavy cream. Season with salt, pepper, and more herbs to taste.

When the chicken has cooled, pull the meat from the bones, discarding the skin and bones. Cut the meat into small (1/2- to 1-inch ) chunks and set aside.

To assemble the pot pies:
Heat the oven to 400°F. Choose four 12-oz. ovenproof bowls or a 2-qt. casserole.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Lay it on a floured board and roll it out 1/8 inch thick into a 20x16-inch rectangle. Set the dish for the pot pie upside down on the dough and cut around the rim with a knife or pastry cutter. (If you like extra pastry, cut the pastry a little larger than the top of the dish.) Stack the pastry pieces on a plate, separating each with waxed paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Divide the chicken, vegetables, and sauce among the dishes. Lay the pastry on top, pressing along the edge of the dish to seal.

To make the egg wash:

Blend the egg yolk and cream. Brush the mixture onto the pastry with a pastry brush.

Put the pies on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake on the center rack in the 400°F oven for 50 to 55 min., or until the crust is thoroughly browned and puffed. Steam will escape along the edges of the pastry.

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