Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

Whenever I have leftover chicken meat, I make a chicken pot pie.  It is a great way to use leftovers, a practice that is good for the planet (avoiding waste).  Leftover vegetables can easily be incorporated into this recipe, as well.  I have used summer squash, zucchini, corn, cauliflower, potatoes, and green beans, as well as the vegetables that are listed in the recipe below.  Root vegetables such as turnips and parsnips would be delicious, too.  Don't feel like you have to measure the chicken and vegetables exactly, as I usually just load it up with whatever I have.  I just used measurements below to aid you in detemining the appropriate quantities.  Remember that a higher proportion of vegetables to meat is actually better for your health and better for our environment.  And use local chicken and local vegetables whenever possible to make your eating more sustainable for the planet.  One key to this recipe is the onions.  Make sure you include them, as they give the sauce a delicate sweetness that makes this pie especially delicious.  If you don't have a vidalia onion, you can use a yellow onion, but the vidalia onion is sweeter.  You also could substitute leeks, which also have a sweet flavor that would enhance the sauce nicely.

Serves 4-5

4 TBS butter
3 TBS flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
½ vidalia onion, chopped
1 celery, diced (slice lengthwise into 3 or 4 pieces, then chop horizontally)
1 carrot, diced (slice lengthwise into 4 pieces, then chop horizontally)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ tsp herbs de Provence
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1/3 cup frozen peas

Double pie crust dough (I often use store bought, from the refrigerator section, and especially like the Trader Joe’s brand from the freezer section, which has more wholesome ingredients than brands I find at regular grocery stores, but this time I used a recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, which I copied at the end of this recipe for your convenience.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Melt butter over medium low heat in wide sauce pan.  Increase heat to medium.  Add onions and stir to cook for about 3 minutes.  Add celery and carrots and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.  Add flour, 1 TBS at a time, and stir constantly for about 2-3 minutes, until flour coats vegetables and starts to cook.  Add chicken broth slowly, stirring constantly until thickened.  Add milk and continue to stir constantly until sauce is slightly thick and smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste (I used about ¼ tsp sea salt).  Add remaining vegetables and chicken and stir to combine.  Turn off stove.  Let cool before placing in pie dough.

Roll out dough pieces individually on floured surface, using additional flour on rolling pin.  Place first dough piece on bottom of pie plate by wrapping onto floured rolling pin and then unwrapping into pie plate. Put chicken mixture in the pie plate and spread evenly.  Add second pie dough on top in similar manner, crimp edges, and bake for 20-30 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

Pie Dough Recipe adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook:

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 TBS sugar
1 tsp sea salt
8 TBS vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces and chilled
12 TBS unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
6-8 TBS ice water

Process flour, sugar and sea salt in food processor until combined.  Scatter shortening on top and process with pulses until mixture has texture of coarse sand.  Scatter butter pieces on top and process with pulses until mixture has texture of coarse crumbs.  Put mixture in bowl and sprinkle 6 TBS ice water on top.  Use rubber spatula to stir mixture and press together into a ball.  Avoid using your hands, as this will heat the mixture and make a less flaky dough.  Use a little more water if necessary to make the dough stick together.  Divide dough into two equal pieces.  Press each piece into a 4” disc that you flatten with the palm of your hand.  Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (up to 2 days).

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