Monday, September 27, 2010

151. Diane's Chicken Pot Pie - Worst and Best

     It was a gray and miserable day; I was sick, sleep deprived and headachy - all very good reasons to stay out of the kitchen! Needing comfort, however, I decided to make chicken pot pie. My fogged brain confused things and, while the chicken mixture tasted fine, the color was ugly.

     For some reason, I thought if I added food coloring to the mixture, it would look better. It didn't. Now it was a ghastly yellow/tan. I hoped my family would not notice or care and went ahead and made the pie crust. My fogged mind messed up and I added too much shortening to the crust mixture. A normal me would have throw the whole mess out and ordered a pizza, but I went ahead and baked the pie. The resulting meal was unbelievably awful - my dear husband ate it anyway which eventually caused him to have a gall bladder attack. It was the worst pot pie!

     Years later, we read about a restaurant in the Ozarks purported to serve the best chicken pot pie in the state. After a two-hour drive on winding, hilly roads, we pulled up an  old, run-down place with  only two or three other cars in the parking lot.

     Not expecting  much, we went inside and placed our order. The pot pie arrived in huge bowls - but, there was no pie crust! Instead, the chicken mixture was smothered with a layer of whipped potatoes. Two crisp triangles of puff pastry were anchored on top like little brown flags. How can this be the best pot pie in the state? I wondered.

     After the first bite, I knew it was better than any pot pie I ever tasted!

     These days, I only make crustless pot pie with whipped potatoes - it is at the top of my comfort-food list.

Diane's Crustless, Chicken Pot Pie

1 C chicken broth
1/2 C milk
3 carrots, pared and cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
2 celery stalks, split and cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1/2 C frozen peas
2 chicken bouillon cubes
poultry seasoning
4 T margarine
4 T flour (or modified food starch)
1-2 C cooked chicken, diced
Whipped potatoes

Cut carrots, celery and onion. Combine in a microwave-safe bowl. Add 1/4 C water. Cover with waxed paper and cook on HIGH for 5 minutes. Vegetables should be crisp tender. Heat for 1 minute intervals on HIGH if necessary. Remove and drain.

In a large dutch oven, melt margarine over med. heat. Add flour, stirring constantly. Turn heat down to  low and stir while mixture cooks for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add broth while stirring constantly; add milk and continue stirring. Return pot to med. heat. Add cooked vegetables, peas and meat. Sprinkle in bouillon and seasoning. Stir to mix well. Heat and cook until mixture is a good consistency - not too thin and not too thick; add water or milk if necessary. Stir - do not let mixture burn.

Meanwhile, boil desired amount of cut up red potatoes, (peeled or unpeeled), in salted water in a covered pot. When soft, drain and mash with butter and a little milk; whip until smooth. Keep warm until ready to use.

Ladle pot pie servings in bowls and top with a large dollop of whipped potatoes. Serve immediately.
4 Servings.

Note: The pot pie filling may be frozen and vacuum sealed for later use.

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