I'm not really a collector, and I don't like to accumulate a lot of "stuff." But kitchen and dining things (oh, and books) are my one weakness. As if I needed any more of it, on a recent reconnaissance mission to a new thrift store in town, a couple of things jumped out at me and had to be purchased. Two lovely crystal goblets and four circa-1960 CorningWare (the original Cornflower pattern) 1 3/4-cup capacity Petite Pans.
Of course, they were just screaming "Chicken Pot Pies," so I swung by the grocery store on my way home and picked up some organic chicken and vegetables. Turns out, the Petite Pans make the perfect size main-dish serving. I'm going to keep my eyes open, hoping to come across at least four more. I'll be using them next for my Shepherd's Pie or Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie.
Once I find four or eight more of these or similar pans (like these 16-ounce round Corning French White), I can take advantage of the next chilly, stay-at-home kind of day, making a double or triple batch and freezing them. It's so nice to be able to pull a homemade comfort food meal out of the freezer on a day you can't, or don't want to, cook.
What is your favorite cold-weather comfort food? Favorite vintage, or new, find?
Chicken Pot Pies
(Makes 4 main-dish pies)
Pastry (see below)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
2/3 cup diced carrots
2 cups halved and sliced mushrooms (1/2-pound package)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons dry sherry, optional
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 In 12-inch skillet, heat oil. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; brown on both sides, cooking for a total of 20 to 30 minutes or until done. If you prefer your pies with shredded chicken, shred it now using two forks. If you prefer diced, set the chicken aside to cool a bit for neater dice. (Or you can use 2 1/2 cups or so of leftover shredded or diced cooked chicken, in which case you would skip this step.)
2 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In same skillet, melt butter and saute onion for 3 minutes, scraping up the brown bits from cooking the chicken. Add celery, bell pepper and carrots; saute for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt; saute for 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for a minute or two. Gradually add broth, cream and sherry; cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly and thickened. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Stir in the chicken and peas. (It's easy to forget about the peas because all the other vegetables went in at the beginning. But don't! The peas are wonderful.) Adjust seasoning. Divide mixture among four 14-ounce ramekins.
3 Roll out the pie crust to nearly 1/4-inch thick. Using your ramekin as a template, cut out 4 circles (or in my case, squares) about 1/2 inch greater in diameter than the ramekins. Top each ramekin with a circle (or square) of dough, fold excess under, press down the edges or crimp with a fork, and cut a 1-inch slit, or prick with fork, to vent. Place on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
If you like, prepare ahead of time. Chill filling, assemble, cover pies and keep refrigerated until ready to bake. Preheat oven to 400 degrees 50 minutes before serving time. Put pies in oven 35 minutes before serving time. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
(food processor* method)
1 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (7.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon lemon juice or cider vinegar
1 With metal blade in place, add flour, salt and baking powder to work bowl of food processor. Turn on for three seconds to combine. Add half the frozen butter and process for 10 seconds or until mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Add remaining butter and pulse for six 1-second pulses, or until the frozen butter is the size of small peas.
2 In cup, combine lemon juice and ice water. Pour, a tablespoon at a time, over all of flour mixture, doing a 1-second pulse after each tablespoon, or just until dough forms large clumps; do not over-process. (The amount of water you will need depends on your climate and the moisture content of your flour.)
3 Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten slightly into a 4-inch round disk; double wrap; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to three days. (Let thoroughly chilled dough stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling.)
* I have the Cuisinart DLC-10E, which (understandably after all the years I've had it) is no longer available. Here is the Cuisinart Pro Classic DLC-10S, a similar current model.
Note: This recipe is only slightly different than my smaller appetizer-size Chicken Pot Pies, for which the ingredients must be more finely diced.