I can thank the Food Network for 70% of my food cravings. The rest can be attributed to a combination of hormones, food blogs, and advertising. So last weekends round of Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Good Eats, and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives left me craving chicken pot pie. I know that it’s getting beyond casserole season and that before I know it I’m going to be eating only and all fresh vegetables and fruits. That does not change the fact that I have a few more weekends of weather that makes me crave food that will stick to my ribs. Probably not good for bathing suit season, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay.
Usually I prefer a biscuit-top pot pie. Mostly I’m a huge fan of the biscuit dipped in chicken gravy combination, and that’s the direction I head when I’m making pot pies. But one of the episodes we watched featured a puff pastry top, which sounded too good to resist. I also like to throw a few vegetable curve balls into my pot pies. The tried and true favorites are there- carrots, peas, and chicken. But I also enjoy adding pearl onions, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes. I also got the idea to simmer the cream/milk with a whole chipotle pepper from (who else) Bobby Flay. I love the flavor of dried chipotle, and so when I found whole dried chipotles at the co-op, I knew that it was going to be a good addition.
I wanted the chicken to have a smokey flavor, but as I live in a one bedroom apartment in the outskirts of Washington, D.C, smoking food is not an option. So, instead I brushed the chicken with liquid smoke before I cooked it, which works like a charm. If I understand it correctly the way Alton Brown explained it, liquid smoke is made by trapping smoke that has been created by burning wood in a controlled environment, like a chiminea. The smoke is trapped and the condensation that is created is diluted (I believe.) Either way, it creates an authentic smoked flavor in meats and vegetables, and it’s a big coup in apartment cooking.
This recipe is really easy, I promise. I suggest you read through the instructions before you start making it because it’s a lot of multitasking. As soon as you get one vegetable simmering or parboiling, there’s another task to start. As long as you’re able to focus and think about scalding milk while you chop, you’ll be fine. And I promise it’s worth it. It’s bold, spicy, sweet, and savory all the the same time. And since this type of food is going to be disappearing for the summer soon, it’s a great compliment to an afternoon of basketball.
Chicken Pot Pie
1 chicken breast
2 cups frozen peas
4 whole carrots, peeled
1 1/2 cups pearl onions
1 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms
1 sweet potato, peeled
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp flour
1 whole, dried chipotle pepper
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp liquid smoke
Salt & pepper
4 tbsp olive oil (half for vegetables, half for chicken)
Begin by peeling and dicing your carrots. Heat oil and garlic, and add in carrots. Saute five minutes, then add in peas.
While your peas and carrots are cooking over a medium heat, take out your pearl onions. If you have never worked with pearl onions before, you should approach them like you would a head of garlic. Cut off the ends on both sides, and take off whatever skin comes naturally. Don’t worry about peeling them all the way down. Dump them in a pot of boiling water, and parboil them for about 5-7 minutes. Then, strain them, and they’ll be ready to add to the peas and carrots. In order to get the skin off, just squeeze them a little, and the good part should pop right out.
While your onions are parboiling, you’re going to scald your milk and cream. So, mix those two ingredients together over medium heat. Add in the chipotle pepper. If your milk comes to a boil before it’s time to add it to the other ingredients, simply simmer it.
After your onions are parboiled and added to the peas and carrots, peel and chop your sweet potato, and bring that to a boil. You also want to parboil those, so boil them about 10 minutes until they’re medium tender.
While your potatoes are boiling, rinse and chop your mushrooms, and add them to the pea mixture.
Once your potatoes have joined their fellow ingredients, it’s time to stir in the milk and cream. You do not want the chipotle to join, so just add in the milk. I like to add in half the milk, and then add in the rest as the vegetables absorb it. At this time also add flour, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
Now that most of your ingredients are happily married, you can bring the temperature down, put a lid on it, and let them simmer while your chicken cooks. Go ahead and brush the liquid smoke over the chicken, and heat oil in a saute pan. When your pan is hot, dump your chicken and any liquid smoke left in the bowl into the pan. Cook your chicken all the way through. When it’s done, dice it, and add it to the rest of the ingredients. If your liquid is looking low, you can add the rest of your milk.
Let the whole mixture simmer while you heat the oven to 350. Your puff pastry should be thawed (that takes about 40 minutes, so account for that during the preparing). If you’ve not worked with puff pastry before, it’s super easy. Let it thaw as it comes in the package, folded. When it’s thawed, lay it out on a lightly floured surface and make sure it’s all in one piece, mend any cracks.
When your oven is hot, dump your simmering ingredients into a casserole dish. Drape the puff pastry over the dish, sealing all the edges. Brush the top of the puff pastry with egg, and bake for 30 minutes.
Let cool slightly, and serve.