For the last couple of months, Beijing has been trying really hard to make me feel sick. There is food filled with whatever flavor enhancers/antibiotics/growing hormones etc. which wouldn’t be legal to sell anywhere in in Europe, fake alcohol (it makes you feel so good when you drink it, but oh so bad the morning after), people spitting and blowing their noses on the street and making those bullets of gunk drop down right in front of you, the hygiene in restaurants and food stalls leave much to be desired and of course days in January when the air quality due to the smog wasn’t “hazardous” can be counted on one hand.
So I think it’s quite interesting, but mostly just really annoying, that I didn’t get sick under these circumstances, but after staying for three days in a country with fresh and clean air, good cooking (I’m so humble) and loads of vitamines, I got sick.
But I will not let my stuffed nose (maybe I should try blowing it on the street) or headache get me down and I will continue my cooking marathon. Hopefully the dishes I’m cooking in the next couple of days will turn out just as a good as this chicken pot pie and will make me feel better, so I’m healthy again when I return to the unhealthy city.
If you’re going full in for this pot pie, which I totally recommend, it takes quite some time and effort, but you’re ensured to end up with a highly comforting chicken pot pie with the most flavorful and appetizing filling and flaky and buttery crust possible. In case of lack of time, there are some shortcuts you can take and I’m sure you’ll also end up with something really good.
Slightly adapted recipe from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.
Even though making the pot pie takes time and effort, you can make all the individual components up to a day or two in advance and assemble them before you pop the dish into the oven. You can also go for some shortcuts, but you probably will be comprising a bit in taste. For shortcuts you can use store-bought pastry or store-bought chicken stock and you can use leftover chicken pieces.
You can substitute the veggies for some others. Bittman recommends parsnips & green beans & shallots or rutabaga & celery & leeks.
1 whole chicken, my chicken was 1.250 kg
2 onions, quartered
3 bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorns
2 tbsp butter and more for greasing the baking dish
1 cup pearl onions
2 large or 4 medium or small carrots, diced
2 tbsp flour
2 handfuls of chopped parsley
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cream
1 cup peas, I used frozen ones
1 egg, beaten
Put the chicken and onions in a large pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. When it boils turn down the heat to medium-low, add the bay leaves, a generous pinch of salt and the peppercorns and let it simmer for 45 minutes (or) until the chicken is cooked through. Skim any foam that rises to the surface during this time.
Remove the chicken to cool and save the cooking liquid (this will be your chicken stock later). If you haven’t made you’re pastry yet, you should make it at this stage (recipe below).
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, take the meat of the bones and shred or cut it into small pieces. Return the carcass to the pot (making sure everything is submerged, if not, break it into pieces, but don’t add any more water) and bring it back to a boil. Let it simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take out the carcass (you can do this by sieving, but I just took them out with a spatula) and reduce the liquid to 1 1/2 cups. Depending on how much liquid you start with, this can take 15-45 minutes (I had a lot of liquid in my pot). At this point you can store the liquid and the chicken separately in the fridge for up to 2 days. If you’re baking the pie right now, heat the oven to 375˚F/190˚C and grease a 2-quart baking dish.
Put 2 tbsp of butter in a pan (I used the same pan as I used to make the chicken stock and I didn’t wash it in between) over medium heat. When the butter is melted add the carrot and the pearl onions and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until the veggies begin to soften. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the flour, keep stirring until the flour turns slightly brown, then add the parsley and keep stirring for another minute. At this point you can store the veggie mixture up to one day, just reheat before proceeding.
Add the chicken stock and cream to the veggie mixture and turn the heat up to medium. Stir until it starts to bubble and thicken, but don’t let it come to a rolling boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning (I had to add quite a lot of salt and pepper) and stir in the peas. Put the mixture into the prepared baking dish. At this point you can cover the dish and store it in the fridge up to one day, let it come to room temperature before proceeding.
Roll out the tart crust large enough to cover the baking dish. Lay it on top and if you have decent crimping skills (which I obviously have not) you can crimp the piecrust, or you can leave the sides hanging over the edges or just do what I did and and make marks with a fork. Use a sharp knife to cut 3 or 4 vents in the top and brush the top with the beaten egg. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the top is deeply golden (you might have to top it with some tin foil after a while to prevent the crust from burning – I had to do this after about 25 minutes) and the filling is bubbling.
Flaky tart dough
Recipe from Martha Stewart
This is my favorite tart dough, it is incredibly flaky and buttery, but it only needs a little pulsing of a food processor to make it. There are a couple of things you need to pay attention to, to ensure the flakiness. Make sure the ingredients you work with are very cold, don’t overmix the dough (definitely no kneading) and to do this you might need to half the recipe or work in two stages if you’re food processor is too small. Cause if your food processor is too full, it will mix the dough at the bottom more and that part will be overmixed, while the top part of the dough in the food processor isn’t mixed enough.
Makes enough for 9- or 10- inch tart shells.
I used a little under half a recipe for this pot pie.
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup ice water
3 cups and 2 tbsp flour, plus a little extra for work surface
1 cup (2 sticks) very cold butter, cut into little (1 inch) cubes
In a small bowl, mix together salt and water. Place in the fridge until needed.
Place flour and butter in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse briefly until mixture forms small crumbs. Add salt water and continue pulsing until the mixture has formed a dough but is not smooth.
Evenly divide the dough on a floured surface. Form each piece into a disk of about 1 inch thick, wrap it in clingfilm and store it in the fridge for at least 2 hours.