Friday, December 19, 2008

Chicken pot NOT

I’ve been thinking about chicken pot pie for a while. I downloaded a recipe mostly because it was a two crust version, whereas, most of the time, there’s just a crust on the top.

Yesterday, having been CFTBD (cook for the boys day), was the perfect opportunity. I’ve been cooking a chicken in the pressure cooker for the “boys” (read “dogs”) for the better part of two years. I save either the breast portion or the legs and thighs for Peter and me. While pressure cooking is time-efficient, it is a bit unpredictable in terms of the outcome.

Depending on how much of the chicken is frozen (yes, even though the bird is in the refrigerator case, the store keeps the temperature so low that much of it is hard as a carp), one has to determine the proper cooking time. Generally speaking 12-15 minutes with the rocker rocking does the trick and you just run cold water over the cooker to drop the pressure.

However, breast meat done in the pressure cooker is hard to get ‘just right.’

So…I’ve started poaching the chicken after disassembling it into its component parts. There are two upsides to this: you can get wonderfully delicate breast meat; you get a larger amount of stock.

So…back to the pot pie. I decided I wanted to make it. Then I realized we had just had two consecutive meals with bisquick involved and the starch of a two-crust chicken pie was a turn-off. Hence the recipe below; no crust – just what you would expect to be in a chicken pot pie. I call it:

Chicken pot NOT
1 whole chicken breast
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup celery, diced
½ onion, sliced
¾ cup mixed bell pepper strips
1 large carrot, cut into 1/8” rounds
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried tarragon
½ tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup baby spinach leaves

Cut two slices into the chicken breast, one in the middle and the other near the neck end. Cut all the way down to the bone.

Place the breast into a pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a simmer and reduce the heat to a gently bubble and poach for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken to a cutting board to cool.

When it’s cool, remove the skin and pull the breast meat off the bone and shred it with your hands. Set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter and oil. When the butter is melted, add
Onion, garlic, pepper strips, carrot, celery, and mushrooms. Cook until the onions are softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are softened but still retain some texture, 8-10 minutes.

Add the herbs and the flour and the chicken. Bring back to a strong simmer and cook until thickened to a gravy-like texture.

Serve over perfectly cooked (as Peter will do) basmati rice which you have topped with baby spinach leaves.

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