Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dinner tonight... Simple, Classic Chicken Potpie

Mr. Fritz can thank Mr. & Mrs. Glade for tonight's meal. Mrs. Glade had kiddo number four in September and it was my turn to bring the family a post-new-baby meal. Since I knew the Glades enjoyed this particular recipe (I made it for them after baby two or three -- I can't keep the years straight anymore!), and since it yields two 9-inch potpies, I thought it would be the perfect chance to treat both them and Mr. Fritz to its comforting goodness. Also, it's fun to have a pie crust to monogram!

This recipe, by cookbook author Pam Anderson, is not terribly complicated. But it can be time consuming to prepare. My best advice is to make sure you do all the prep work before you head to the stove, because by the time you start sauteeing, things will move very fast. In fact, if you can reel in a sous chef on this one to help you chop, measure, etc., you should. (Mr. Fritz doesn't presently cook and, unfortunately for me, is not interested in entering The Mrs. Fritz School of Cooking in order to become sous chef material. I adore him regardless.) In any case, here's how I went about preparing it: First, I chopped the onions and celery and put them in one bowl. Then, I put flour and thyme in another bowl and evaporated milk and chicken stock in a third. The recipe calls for shredding the meat from 2 rotisserie chickens; that went into a fourth, large bowl. And I chopped a quarter cup of parsley and put that in a fifth bowl. After measuring out 1/3 cup of white wine and 1/3 cup of butter, with my kitchen counter looking like it ought to be on the set of a cooking show, I finally headed to the stove.

And from then on, it really did go fast: First, I heated up the milk and stock mixture in the microwave. As soon as that started warming up, I began sauteeing the celery and onions in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes, then added those vegetables to the bowl which held the shredded chicken. Then I dropped the butter into the pan and waited for it to melt and stop foaming. At that point, I added the flour and thyme mixture and stirred until it began to turn golden, about a minute or so, and then whisked in the hot milk mixture. That quickly thickened into a nice sauce. Then in went the wine, then a bag of frozen peas and carrots and the chicken, onions and celery plus salt and pepper and a quarter cup of chopped parsley. Mixed all of that up really well and distributed it between two 9-inch deep dish glass pyrex pie plates. Topped each pie with a refrigerated pie crust, fluted the edges, made a little monogram on each one by pricking the surface with an appetizer fork, then put them each on a baking sheet and into the oven for 30 minutes on the low-center rack. Crust turned a lovely golden brown and resulting pies were hearty and filling -- just right for a crisp fall day and just right to bring to a family in the midst of a joyful, if tiring, transition.

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