ok, i have to admit up front, i’m not feeling particularly witty as i type this. if i weren’t committed to this project, i probably would have blown off cooking all together this week. those of you that know me probably realize why, today of all days, stuck on a 12 hour shift, this first of 10 over the next two weeks. it’s going to be a shitty time and not exactly how i planned on spending my birthday. yeah, i’m a little kid about it but hey, its my birthday. i’ll cry if i want to.
it probably didn’t help that i was a bit “under the weather” yesterday. there were more than a few liquid refreshments on saturday night so sunday morning was a non-starter. i did plan ahead a bit and scheduled a meal that wasn’t terribly difficult, one that had a nice payoff and lots of steps where all i had to do was wait for things to cook… it worked out alright over all. i went with a chicken pot pie for the main course and a peach pot pie for the dessert. easy peasy.
for the chicken pot pies, first thing i did was start so chicken thighs to boil in a large pot. enough water to cover, salt and pepper, thats it. bring it to a boil, cover the pot and reduce heat to medium. wait three hours or so… by this time the meat should be falling off the bone and the broth thick and flavorful. drain the thighs, reserving the liquid. shred the meat by hand and separate out the bones, gristle and skin. great for flavor but they don’t go in a pot pie!
at some point while the chicken is boiling, make a nice double batch of pie crust. i was making 4 pot pies so the double batch was needed. the recipe calls for lard but of course, i wasn’t able to get any so i subbed butter for that part as well… it adds a bit too much moisture into the crust but overall turns out alright. this is closely following an alton brown recipe, he’s the man and in my state yesterday, not much i could even consider to do to better one of his procedures. this calls for a food processor but since i don’t have one with me, i used the tradition one, my left and right hand. its really nice and visceral to mix up a pie crust my smushing that ingredients together with your bare hands. i am basically in favor of it.
8 oz butter
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
water in a spray bottle
mix the butter, flour and salt together until you have a course crumb like texture. group it together in a mound on a lightly floured surface and mist with a bit of water. press the mixture together with your hands, adding just enough water until it comes together as a solid piece. shape into a disc and chill for about 30 minutes. then, divide the dough into 8 pieces. roll each piece out into a rough rectangle and line 4 rectangular foil loaf pans with crust, reserving the other 4 for the lids. i blind baked these for about 10-15 min at 375, too lazy to weigh them down with beans so i dealt with the little bit of air bubbling that popped up. i’m easy and it didn’t stress me one bit. set the lined loaf pans aside and work on your filling.
you may find this as a surprise but i started the filling by sweating down a whole chopped onion in a bit of olive oil. add to this 6 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 finely chopped potato, 2 chopped carrots and a handful of frozen peas. season with salt, pepper, oregano, basil and sage. cook until the potatoes just start to soften. mix the veg with the shredded chicken. be sure and mix well to incorporate all the different ingredients so you don’t get pockets of flavor in your pot pie.
fill two of the lined loaf pans with this mixture. i used a bit of the chicken broth to deglaze the pan, picking up the little bits of flavor goodness left behind. i then poured the chicken broth into the pot pies about 1/2 up and then sealed them with the remaining pie crust. bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned on top. i got impatient and turned on the broiler for about 3 minutes at the end of cooking to accelerate the browning but please, have more patience than me.
meanwhile, the sweet pies… this is the lazy quick way to do this while you are cooking with a hangover, feel free to get fresh fruit and peel it if you are properly motivated… take a bag of frozen peaches, dump them in a saucepan, cover about 1/2 way up with water. dump a liberal 3/4 cup sugar on top. bring to a boil. boil them for a few minutes. sprinkle in a handful of flour, a liberal dose of cinnamon and just a touch of nutmeg. a more motivated me would have squeezed a bit of lemon juice in as well but see above for condition of cook during this preparation… stir well to ensure the flour is completely incorporated, no lumps in this, its easy and simple so don’t mess up the small details… pour the mixture into your remaining two loaf pans, seal with crust and bake same as the savory pies.
the payoff is a really easy, self contained meal with a satisfying dessert. for some reason my appetite wasn’t up to its normal rate so i still have half a pot pie wrapped in foil ready for leftovers. these turned out great and keep in mind the ingredients are completely flexible. the whole point to a pot pie is to use up leftovers, originally, so whatever you feel like throwing in will work just fine.
i promise a bit more effort next week, really, you have to understand the state i was in…