Chicken Pot Pie

One of the guilty pleasures of my childhood; the frozen version.  I haven’t had much experience with any other; the one I particularly remember was the Boston Market one, which was too sweet and too bland and generally not like the real thing.

I’ve been meaning to do this for over  a year, but finally actually made my first try at it today. It was successful beyond my wildest dreams—tasted exactly right, and yet contained only actual food ingredients (well, perhaps something nasty in the commercial crust or the bouillon).

Based on the Pillsbury Classic Chicken Pot Pie recipe; what I record here is what I actually did, as best I remember.

Pre-heat oven to 425°.

Cut two chicken breasts into ¾” or so cubes, and sauté gently until firm. Add 1 ¾ cups frozen peas and at least get the frost off them. This is too much meat, I think. And a mix of vegetables might be more interesting, although Lydy doesn’t want carrots in it.  But I think carrots would be good, and they’re certainly traditional. I drew the line at collard greens or cauliflower, though.

Mince one medium onion (recipe calls for 1/3 cup, so this is more than called for).

Melt 1/3 cup butter over medium heat, and sauté the onions a couple of minutes, until transparent.

Gradually add 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, with ½ tsp salt, 25 turns of fresh-ground pepper, and ¼ tsp or so each of thyme and sage.  Oh, and maybe 1/8 tsp of celery seed. Anyway, add this stuff gradually into the butter and onions.  Then add 1¾ cups chicken stock (I used Knorr bouillon) and ½ cup milk, still gradually and while stirring. I found this made a fairly glutinous mixture.

I used commercial crusts (top and bottom), and a 10-inch pie plate (recipe was for 9-inch, but I had extra meat and no shortage of other stuff). Put bottom crust in pie pan, then dump meat and veggies in, then pour the sauce over them. Finally, put on the top crust, seal the edges, and cut vents for the steam. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. If your crust / oven requires it, cover the edges for the last 15 minutes to avoid over-browning.  Let sit at least 5 minutes (I waited 10, and it was still essentially impossible to get a piece out as one piece) before cutting and serving.

Makes perhaps 6 reasonable servings. Total elapsed time was about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Thoughts for the future: might be better to put a cookie sheet under the pie plate (less cleanup inside the oven). I had a bit too much filling even for a 10-inch pan, so one big breast is plenty (original recipe calls for 2½ cups shredded chicken). Maybe try with leftover turkey / turkey broth after Thanksgiving or Christmas. I wonder if finding containers to make single-serving portions is worth it? That would resolve the serving issue, but would require making my own crust.

Apologies to anybody who has trouble reading this due to my playing with the typography (accent in “sauté”, and fractions).

Pancakes

Finally started taking action on the problem of not getting enough pancakes in my life.  As it turned out, this required a last-minute trip to the store, since the amount of soy milk in the house was inadequate.

I did a batch of vegan whole-wheat pancakes that were okay (better than today’s batch, as I remember it) a long time ago, but don’t seem to have said anything or recorded the recipe.

Last two pancakes in the batch

I don’t like “fluffy” pancakes.  I like something closer to crêpes.

The recipe as I made it today:

1 cup white flour
1T sugar
1.5T baking powder
1/8t salt
1C unsweetened soy milk
2T vegetable oil

Mix, cook on medium hot  griddle, probably greased.  Makes 2 servings.

These came out kind of okay, though a bit thick, a bit tough, and a bit flavorless (I thought they lacked salt).

For next time, I plan to add something like 1/8 cup soy milk, and take the baking powder down to 1T.  (The original recipe actually called for 2T, I reduced it before making this batch.)

Turns out baking powder has huge amounts of sodium in it, when used in this kind of quantity.  Today’s recipe had 42% of the allowable sodium intake for a normal diet.

In the long run I’ll play with grains, I think, and maybe play with vegan egg-replacer.  I’m looking for a more rubbery, less cardboard, kind of a texture.  More oil might be involved too.  I’m trying to limit the number of things I change at once for a few iterations; though I suppose I may eventually give up this recipe entirely.

I could give up the vegan route, and work  on normal pancakes.  But that leaves Pamela out, which seems like it shouldn’t be my first choice.

450° Oven

Tonight I tried a technique that I got from Lynn on The Splendid Table last weekend (while I was driving around town alone; that’s when the radio is on). She gave it in response to a college student who liked to cook and wanted a new technique (he started with stir fry, as did I).

Worked great.

It’s one of those general ideas that can be applied millions of ways.  If I understood right, the name comes from the fact that the oven temperature is really the only thing that holds true across the whole range of things you can do with it.

Here’s what I did:

Slice about 3/4lb of pork and marinate in lemon juice, olive oil, red wine, a couple of cloves of garlic, and rosemary.  Oh, and a good squirt of oriental pepper sauce.

Preheat oven to 450°.

Peel and slice one sweet potato pretty thin (3/16 kinda).

Cut one red and one green peppers into strips.

Cut two onions so they fall apart into strips.

Cut one yellow zucchini into 1/4inch-plus slices.

Dump the veggies into a pan as big as will fit (in area; doesn’t need to be deep).  Or two.  Pour on some olive oil, quite a lot of oregano, some basil, salt, and pepper.  Mix a bit.  Dump the meat and marinade over it, and get the meat spread out.

Put in oven until done.  Was about 50 minutes this time.

We ate it wrapped in burrito-scale tortillas; sort of Italian burritos.

Lydy and I voted it a success, but there were some leftovers anyway.

Chicken Tacos, Take 2

Did a second try at the chicken tinga tacos I originally tried in February, making the change I most wanted (ditching the canned chipotle in adobo sauce) and getting pretty good results.

I boiled half or so an onion, two cloves of garlic, and 20oz of boneless chicken breast with 3 chopped chipotle peppers (these were actually labeled “Morita”; in any case, smoked red jalapeño), for a bit over an hour.  Just enough water to cover by the end (I didn’t have to top it up).  Drain, reserving liquid.  Don’t bother trying to separate the chiken from the rest if you started from boneless like this.  Some rough stirring towards the end will break up the bits nicely, too.  Still, full breasts or a full chicken would probably be better, I will try that when I’m ready for a big batch.

Then I sautéd another onion and a bit and 3 cloves of garlic in some olive oil, and added 1/2tsp ground coriander and 1/2tsp whole cumin seed.  When this was well started, I added a small can of tomato sauce.  This was probably too much, or the wrong thing; 1/2 cup of minced tomato would probably have been better, or sauce rather than paste, or less.  Too much sweetness came through to the end, and I think it was from the paste.

When the tomato paste was well mixed in I added the meat and mixed it around a lot.  I started adding the reserved liquid back fairly early, to get the texture “right”.   In the end I used about 3/4 of the reserved liquid.

Serve in small white corn tortillas, with minced onion.  (And coriander leaf if you like that, which I don’t all that much, and didn’t have any on hand.)

The result was good.  I’d have liked more spice and a bit more front-of-mouth spice, probably some cayenne in with the spices would have been good.  And probably a 4th chipotle into the boiling stage.  The smokiness came through decently, and another chipotle plus the cayenne should give about the right heat.  Definitely less tomato paste, or some other form of tomato.

Two dinners plus 4 units of leftovers again.

I think after one more decent batch, I’ll be ready to do a *big* batch and have *lots* of leftovers.

Chicken Tacos

No pictures, I was overlapping with two other things.

First try at anything like this. I examined a number of recipes on the Internet before deciding what to do.

Boil a pound of chicken meat with half a chopped onion and some chopped garlic, in just enough water to cover. Get it thoroughly cooked, we’re going to pull it off the bone and shred it anyway. I used boneless breasts since we had a spare pound, but cheaper cuts with bones will probably work better. Remember that I specified the amount of meat, so compute properly if using cuts with bones and skin. Drain, save the cooking liquid. (Half an hour is about minimum, more like an hour is better for the texture we want.)

Cool and shred the meat. Discard bones and skin and lumps in the broth.

Saute a couple of minced onions and some garlic in oil. Add 1/2tsp cumin seed and 1/2tsp ground coriander.

Add 1 cup diced tomato.

Add one 7oz can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced. I couldn’t find the dried peppers. I’d like to develop this recipe to not use this bit of processed food, and would definitely like the result to be less sweet.

Add perhaps half the broth from boiling the chicken; don’t make it too soupy.

Add the shredded chicken meat.

Cook for a while (an hour or a bit might be good if you have time). Salt to taste (I believe I used about 1/4tsp). Top up with broth if it gets too dry. You can cook much less, practically just enough to warm the meat and get it coated with sauce, if you have to.

Serve in soft corn tortillas.

Good with sour cream. Good with avocado.

The result was pretty good, and popular with those at the table. I found it good, but too sweet, and maybe too smoky (chipotle are smoked jalapeño). Fixing that would mean finding the dried pepper, and making my own sauce around them, which I’ll certainly do if I can find them.

We got two dinners and 4 lunches out of this, looks like.