Sunday, February 14, 2010

- Comfort Food: Chicken Pot Pie

Long ago and far away, I traveled to Wisconsin a fair bit. Strange, but the integrated library system that we used at Colonial Williamsburg was licensed from a firm in Brillion, so trips to users group meetings in the Green Bay area became an annual event. One of the earlier jaunts lasted several days, and I soon tired of restaurant food and motel accommodations. By the time we headed back to Virginia, all I could think of was a home cooked meal and my own bed.

Flying into O’Hare late in the afternoon, facing a fairly extended layover, we decided to get an early dinner … one last meal out. Fortunately, we found our way to a diner where I ordered chicken pot pie. It was the ultimate comfort food. A buttery brown crust broke open to reveal a rich chicken broth, shreds of real chicken, chunks of floury potato, and nuggets of sweet carrot. Granted, it did have some tired peas, but they were easily fished out and put aside (peas should never be subjected to extended cooking, imho). The pot pie was so good that I tried to imitate it when I got home. And I’ve been refining the recipe ever since.

The most recent version got us through a rainy gray day, with leftovers to spare. Give it a try next time you find yourself debating what to do with a leftover rotisserie chicken.

Chicken Pot Pie

½ rotisserie chicken
2 small to medium potatoes
2 small or 1 large carrot, shredded
A handful of mushrooms, sliced relatively thin
1 shallot, sliced fine
1 cup Bisquick
1/3 cup milk
Butter and flour for roux

Take the meat off the chicken and set aside. Cover the leftover bones and skin with 6 cups of water and simmer for an hour or so until you have about 4 cups of rich broth.

Make a roux by melting 2 Tbs. of butter and adding 2 heaping Tbs. flour. Whisk in the broth and cook until thickened.

Nuke the potatoes until tender, leave the skins on and cut into rough dice. Put in the bottom of a 2 quart casserole. Top with shredded carrot, sliced mushrooms and sliced shallots. No need to cook the veggies … they will be get all the cooking they need in the oven. Layer on bite sized pieces of chicken.

Pour in warm, thickened broth until it just covers the chicken. Top with a biscuit crust made by quickly mixing 1/3 cup of milk into 1 cup of Bisquick with a fork. Handle the dough gently … rolling it out on a pastry cloth, flouring the rolling pin a bit to keep it from sticking.

Bake at 425 until the crust is golden and the sauce is bubbling (easy to see if you use a clear Pyrex casserole dish) … about 15 minutes, give or take.