Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Guardian Service Chicken Pot Pie

Guest Blog: Andrew makes Mom’s Chicken Pot Pie

There is no dish so beloved in the vast canon of American cookery as Chicken Pot Pie. Every American region has a version, all of them essentially local versions of English and German meat pies of the eighteenth century. The dish is fantastically versatile, yet it makes everyone think of Mom and home. It must rank third, after hamburgers and hot dogs, among our national favorites, and far pre-dates either of them. It certainly was a favorite in the Martin household. My mom Kathi’s recipe is, to me, the gold standard. The crust is exactly what you want it to be: a crisp, crumbly shell that breaks into golden flakes in the gooey ooze of the rich white sauce. Two days in the fridge improves it; eat it cold for breakfast with hot sauce drizzled on top, or wrap it in wax paper for a brown-bag lunch.

I vary the recipe freely; this pie welcomes leftover vegetables, and is as delicious with nutmeg (New England) or saffron (Pennsylvania) as with paprika and rosemary (Kathi’s choice). I suggest you make this pie only for those you dearly love, folk who deserve a little spoiling.

Because it is a steamed pie, it turns out to be the perfect recipe to cook in the Guardian Service Kettle Oven, which yields mouth-watering results. The pre-cooking of the individual ingredients in the Economy Trio "triangle" pots gives exactly the right texture to the meat and the veggies, and cuts down on the baking time, thus reducing the heat in our San Fernando Valley kitchen (as well as our carbon footprint).

Make the crust first; while it’s chilling, pre-cook the vegetables, the chicken, and the sauce in the three triangle pots, then pour them into the pie plate, cover it with the rolled-out crust, and lower it into the pre-heated kettle-canner. Finish it under the broiler for top-browning, if you wish.

Chicken Pot Pie also happens to be spectacularly healthy, with a near perfect ratio of protein to carbs to fats. Served with a green salad or salsa, there is nothing more the body needs. In my benighted twenties I tried obsessively to reduce the fat in this recipe, with more or less miserable results. Now I am older and wiser and see Mom’s wisdom. I use the best butter and cream I can find; you should too.

Kathi Martin's Chicken Pot Pie
(adapted for Guardian Service Ware by Andrew Martin) 

1½  cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter, chilled, in bits
1 large egg
Tbs. ice water
1 egg beaten for glaze

4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 cups cooked carrots, corn, celery, spinach, what you will

1 Tbs. butter
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup dry white wine (or vermouth or sherry or Madeira)
1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 Tbs. flour
1 ½ tsp. paprika (or handful jalapeno or few grates nutmeg or saffron, cilantro, etc.)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¾ cup chicken broth
fresh–ground black pepper

Prepare pastry in bowl, mixing flour and salt, cut butter in to make coarse crumbs. In small bowl, beat together egg and water, add to flour mixture. Mix lightly til soft dough-ball forms. Shape into a flat disk; wrap in wax paper, chill in fridge 1 hour.

While dough is chilling, chop chicken and vegetables, heat in triangle pots.

In third pot melt butter and cook down mushrooms til browned, reducing water. Bring back up with wine. Add cream and seasonings.  Leave to warm, off heat.

Preheat kettle-canner on high flame.

Combine chicken, vegetables and sauce in pie plate.

Roll out crust on floured surface with floured rolling pin. Place over pie, trimming and sealing edges.  Cut trimmings into shapes if you wish; brush with beaten egg, and ventilate pie with knife-cuts in crust.

Bake in kettle-canner 30 minutes until filling bubbles. Brown 5 minutes under broiler.

Let us know how yours turns out!

For more on baking with the Guardian Service Kettle/Canner, check out a previous post on Devil's Food Cake.

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