28 October 2020

Chicken Pot Pie — Double-Crusted Classic Comfort Food

Chicken Pot Pie — Double-Crusted Classic Comfort Food / www.delightfulrepast.com

Chicken Pot Pie is one of my all-time favorite cold-weather comfort foods. Pie and dinner all in one! I know the name "Chicken Pot Pie" is not appealing to anyone who associates that name with the mid-century modern frozen version.

The first frozen chicken pot pie came out in 1951 and has had various iterations over the ensuing decades of convenience foods. Some have crusts top and bottom, some just a top crust, but all are heavy on the sauce and light on the chicken and vegetables.  

When I make my little individual chicken pot pies, I give them just a top crust to leave more room in the ramekins for the filling. But a regular pot pie must have both crusts. And the bottom crust does not have to be soggy.

There are various ways to avoid the "soggy bottom" problem. You can prebake ("blind" bake) the bottom crust before filling and adding the top crust. Or you can brush the bottom crust with egg wash before filling and bake your pot pie on the lowest rack of the oven at an initial high temperature. The fact that I am in the habit of lightly buttering the glass pie plate might also contribute to browning. 

Let me know in the comments whether you are a fan of savory pies as well as sweet, and any pie tips you'd like to share, or pie questions you might have. 

Chicken Pot Pie — Double-Crusted Classic Comfort Food / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Chicken Pot Pie 

(Makes one 9-inch pie, 6 servings)

The Pastry

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces/170 grams) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) milk
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (12.5 ounces/354 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon non-GMO baking powder
1 large egg

The Chicken Filling

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/57 grams) unsalted butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
2/3 cup chopped carrots
1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (1.67 ounces/47 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces/355 ml) chicken broth
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml) milk
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 cup diced potato
2 1/2 cups cold diced cooked chicken*
3/4 cup frozen peas (not thawed)

The Egg Wash

1 large egg, beaten

* I cooked 1 pound (16 ounces/454 grams) boneless skinless chicken breasts (thighs are good, too) seasoned with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper in skillet with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, cooled and diced the chicken, and refrigerated it several hours ahead. You could even cook it the day before and make the pastry a day or two before.

1 Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes and place in freezer for 15 minutes. In 1-cup glass measure, stir together milk and vinegar; let stand at least 5 minutes while proceeding with pastry. 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 pulse for six 1-second pulses or until the frozen butter is the size of large peas. Add remaining butter and pulse for three 1-second pulses.

2 Whisk the egg into the soured milk. Pour half of the liquid over the flour and pulse for three 1-second pulses. Add the rest of the liquid and pulse for up to six 1-second pulses, or just until the dough forms large clumps. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and sprinkle it with flour. Press it into an even piece and divide into 2 equal pieces. Place each half on a square of plastic wrap and flatten slightly into a 4- to 5-inch round disk; wrap; refrigerate for at least 60 minutes or up to 2 days.

3 Let thoroughly chilled dough stand at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes before rolling. On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out one piece of dough (save the plastic wrap) to a 13-inch circle and transfer it to a lightly buttered 9-inch pie plate, pressing dough (but not stretching it) to fit pie plate with about a one-inch overhang (trim with knife or scissors), cover with reserved piece of plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.

4 Using the same piece of parchment, roll out the top crust just as for the bottom crust. Place it, parchment side down, on a half sheet pan, cover with reserved piece of plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes. 

5 In 3-quart saucepan, melt butter. Add chopped onions, celery and carrots. (Sometimes I use sliced mushrooms; you can use anything that adds up to the same amount.) Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper, and cook for a minute, while stirring. Stir in chicken broth, milk and, cream, marjoram and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes, until thickened. Stir in the diced potato, and simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Stir in the cold chicken, and then the frozen peas. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

6 Beat the egg to use as an egg wash. Brush some of the egg wash inside the bottom crust; you'll use the rest on the top crust. Let rest in refrigerator for 20 minutes, or in freezer for 10 minutes. Move oven rack to lowest position. Preheat oven to 450F/230C/Gas8.

7 Pour the chicken filling into the chilled egg-washed bottom crust. Put top crust in place, trim and crimp. To vent the pie, make six 2-inch slashes. Brush the top with a thin, even coat of egg wash; let rest in refrigerator for 15 minutes. If desired, do a second thin, even coat of egg wash. Place the pie in a 15x10x1-inch baking sheet or a half sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes (an excellent and inexpensive  kitchen timer); reduce heat to 375F/190C/Gas5 and continue baking for 20 minutes until crust is golden brown. Cool on wire rack for about 20 minutes before serving.

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15 October 2020

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Pumpkin Spice Muffins - makes 18 and uses whole can of pumpkin / www.delightfulrepast.com

Pumpkin Spice Muffins are my less-sugar, more-pumpkin, "healthier" alternative to my light and fluffy Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

After all, autumn is well underway and cannot go by without at least one pumpkin recipe! As always, I developed my recipe to avoid waste; so it makes precisely 18 standard muffins and uses the whole can of pumpkin.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins - makes 18 and uses whole can of pumpkin (this image a watercolor sketch of a pumpkin) / www.delightfulrepast.com
Didn't actually use this pumpkin in the muffins, but wanted to include
a seasonal watercolor sketch.

Of course, you can make your own pumpkin purée, if you like. See the directions above the muffin recipe.

The texture of these muffins is wonderful. The key to proper texture of any muffin is not overmixing, not developing the gluten in the batter. So I've included some tips in the directions.

Despite the less than typical amount of sugar I use (2 teaspoons per muffin, in case you limit your sugar intake as I do), you could easily slap some frosting on these and call them cupcakes!

What is your favorite way to enjoy pumpkin? And only in autumn or year-round?

Fresh Pumpkin Purée

Look for a pumpkin that is unblemished and firm with a sturdy stem. A 2-pound pumpkin (or part of a larger pumpkin) should yield 1 3/4 cups (as in a 15-ounce can) of purée.

Preheat oven to 400F/205C/Gas6. Scrub the outside well and cut off the stem. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds and stringy bits. Leave the skin on. Place cut-side down on parchment-lined 15x10x1-inch baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes, until fork tender and very soft. Let cool.

Scrape out the flesh, place in food processor or high-powered blender, and puree until smooth. If the consistency is looser than canned pumpkin, put the puree in a mesh yogurt strainer or cheesecloth-lined colander to drain. Store in an airtight container (I like canning jars) for up to 4 days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins - makes 18 and uses whole can of pumpkin / www.delightfulrepast.com

Pumpkin Muffins

(Makes 18)

2 dip-and-sweep cups (10 ounces/283 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons non-GMO baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter
3/4 firmly packed cup (5.25 ounces/149 grams) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 15-ounce can (or 1 3/4 cups fresh) pumpkin puree

Optional: 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 Preheat oven to 400F/205C/Gas6. Spray a 12-cup and a 6-cup standard muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper liners. In 1-quart glass measure or bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. If adding nuts, stir in the finely chopped nuts.

Note: What led me to the Nordic Ware muffin tins was an almost fruitless search for ones that did not have hard-to-clean seams around the muffin cavities. I also love that the 12-cup pan has a lid, making it easy to transport decorated cupcakes.

2 In 2-quart glass measure or bowl, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla extract. Beat in eggs, beating well. Stir in the pumpkin puree. Add thoroughly whisked flour mixture to thoroughly whisked wet mixture, and stir with spatula or large spoon just until combined, about 15 to 20 gentle strokes circling the bowl; do not overmix. 

3 Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, divide batter between cups. Scoop the batter from the edge of the bowl so as not to further mix the batter. Bake for about 18 to 22 minutes, or until a center muffin tests done with a toothpick.

4 Cool in pans on wire rack not more than 5 minutes. Turn out onto a pristine kitchen towel. Place on wire rack to cool for a few minutes before serving. The muffins will keep well at room temperature in an airtight container for 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support.