In full disclosure, I used to hate chicken pot pie. Do you know why? Because one time I was at my friend’s house in Missouri and her mother served us for dinner a frozen white trash grocery store Swanson’s chicken pot pie. She plopped it (still in the aluminum container) onto our 1970s TV dinner trays with a paper napkin and a Dr Pepper while we were watching the Brady Bunch. Or was that my own mother? Regardless, I was scarred for life. (Remind me to tell you about the time my mother served a meatloaf and I almost had a seizure… A seizure caused by disgust.)
Fast-forward to the year 2010, New York City. I was at one of my most favorite restaurants in all of New York, the Waverley Inn. The restaurant is in a residential neighborhood in my favorite part of New York, the West Village. It is housed in one of the brownstones that line the street. I discovered the restaurant while I was dropping my friend off at her psychiatrist’s office. Sometimes my friend would want me to go with her to her therapy sessions and I did because it was funny. It was funny because my friend sat there for an hour and completely lied to the therapist. I thought going to a therapist was one’s opportunity to freely “expose one’s wounds.” Not so, apparently. My friend just completely bullshitted the entire hour. I thought it was hysterical so I often went to watch the show. And that, my friends, is how I found the Waverley Inn and their famous chicken pot pie because everyone knows you have to eat after lying for an hour. You need to refuel! The restaurant ambience is sheer perfection. It was my second visit to the restaurant and I knew what I wanted… The truffle macaroni and cheese. I was at the restaurant with my parents (mid 60s) and their friend (late 60s) who is actually married to my very young friend (early 40s). Mr. Late 60s ordered the chicken pot pie. I secretly rolled my eyes and thought, “Gross. Old people food. Geriatric retirement home buffet food. Soft food for soft teeth.” Imagine my surprise when the waiter delivered the most delicious looking potpie I had ever seen. Because I have no boundaries, I asked Mr. Late 60s for a bite… For research. Again, imagine my surprise when all of my chicken pot pie PTSD dissipated bite by bite. Hallelujah Jesus I am born again! Chicken pot pie is no longer my mortal enemy thanks to the Waverley Inn.
Little Miss Gracie, surprisingly, is a fan of chicken pot pie as well. Actually, not surprisingly, because Gracie is a fan of any type of comfort food. Gracie would rather die than eat foie gras, carpaccio, any type of fish, 99% of all cheeses, or anything cooked “rare, medium or medium rare.” Gracie is a little old lady trapped in a stylish 19-year-old persona. I don’t know where she came from. I think she was adopted. I bet she wishes she were adopted in hopes of finding her “real family” one day. Anyway, little Miss Gracie has a teeny tiny ill-equipped Parisian kitchen with no stove. She has had to learn how to “make do.” Poor Gracie. A Parisian kitchen with no stove. Quelle horreur!!! Gracie relies on her handy-dandy toaster oven for just about everything. True to familial form, Gracie has mastered chicken pot pie… In her toaster oven. With the help of a muffin pan, Parisian rotisserie chicken, Monoprix grocery store pastry dough and frozen vegetables from Picard, Gracie’s chicken pot pie is the true definition of a hack job. A brilliant hack job. That’s my girl.
Okay, now for the secret chicken pot pie cook. Introducing Amy Mastrangelo. Amy was a former food editor at none other than my beloved Gourmet magazine. Meeting Amy (via my blog and email) was like meeting Beyoncé. Actually it was better. Never was there a time at my house nor my mother’s house when there was not a Gourmet Magazine on the kitchen counter, earmarked and well loved with a dusting of flour and most likely, a bit of raw egg. I was telling Amy that one of my worst memories is the day I found out my cousin, Julie, threw away my entire collection of Gourmet Magazines that I had stored in her garage for safekeeping. Needless to say, we no longer speak. But God works in mysterious ways because now I have a real true life food editor of Gourmet Magazine as my friend. Amy worked at Gourmet during its heyday in the test kitchen testing and developing recipes, styling food for photography, writing recipes, editing recipes and any other glorious event that a food editor had the luxury of doing. Dream job. Amy worked under editor-in-chief Jane Montant, who Amy says, “had impeccable style, taste and grace who would walk down the halls and say, “Who is cooking with gaaaaaaaaarlic?” Apparently, cooking with garlic was a no no in Ms. Montant’s eyes. Amy and I have spent the last few months talking about… You guessed it… Food. We even had an entire discussion about pinenuts because this is what life’s about! So, in honor of today’s blog, Amy has so generously offered us (I begged her) her famous chicken pot pie recipe! It’s as if Gourmet magazine is back!
But first, let’s look at some secrets to the perfect chicken pot pie…
• make your own piecrust… It’s easy and fun
• don’t just use the piecrust for the top. Bottoms, sides and top is best
• don’t forget the herbs
• use a bit of dry white wine
• use frozen peas
• this is a great meal to freeze
• use full fat everything with chicken pot pie… Nothing dietary… Go big or go home
Okay, now let’s take a look at the recipes…
The Waverley Inn Chicken Pot Pie. Recipe HERE.
Mini Chicken Pot Pie. Recipe HERE.
Amy’s Famous Chicken Pot Pie. Recipe Below.
CHICKEN POT PIE
This is easy comfort food, a perfect one-dish dinner for a friend who’s under the weather, has a new baby, or just needs cheering up! Make ahead is easy and preferable--the filling actually tastes better given a day for flavors to meld. Accompany with a simple green salad and crusty bread, or gild the lily and serve with buttery mashed potatoes.
Serves 6 to 8
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
1 heaping tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ stick (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 oz cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon white vinegar
¼ cup ice water
4 pounds split chicken breasts (with skin and bone—either 4 large or 5 to 6 small)
Olive oil for drizzling
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped fine (@ 2 cups)
½ teaspoon salt plus additional to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus additional to taste
½ cup all purpose flour
4 cups low sodium chicken broth, at room temperature
A 10-oz package frozen peas, preferably baby peas (about 2 cups)
6-7 medium carrots, peeled, sliced @ ¼ inch thick and steamed until just tender
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
whole milk or heavy cream for brushing pastry
Make crust: In a food processor combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder and pulse to combine. Add butter and cream cheese and pulse just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some large pieces mixed in. In a small bowl with a fork stir together egg, vinegar and ice water. Sprinkle over flour/butter mixture and pulse just until large clumps of dough form, do not let dough come together completely into a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and bring dough together to form a 6-8-inch disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. (Transfer to a resealable bag if making 1 day ahead.)
Make filling: Preheat oven to 375 F. Place breasts skin sides up on a shallow rimmed baking sheet, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast in middle of oven 25 to 35 minutes (depending on size of breasts) or until just cooked through. Cool completely, discard skin and bones and cut meat into 1-inch pieces, reserving chicken juices remaining in pan.
In a large heavy saucepan cook onion in butter with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper over medium heat, stirring, until onion is very soft. Whisk in flour and cook over low heat, whisking, until flour just barely begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Whisk in stock in a stream, whisking until smooth, and bring sauce to a boil. Whisk in reserved cooking juices from chicken and simmer over low heat, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in peas, chicken, carrots, thyme, parsley and salt and pepper to taste (make sure to use enough salt and pepper!). Cool filling completely.
Assemble pie: Butter a 13- by 9 inch deep baking dish and transfer filling to dish, spreading evenly. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry until slightly larger than dish and carefully transfer to cover filling. Fold edges of dough under to make a hem and crimp all around edge with a fork to seal. Brush dough lightly with milk or cream, cut a few vents in middle of pastry with a sharp paring knife and baking pie on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any drips) in middle of 375 F. oven 50 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown and filling is bubbling at edges. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
NOTE: Both the filling and dough can be made a day ahead; pie then assembled and baked the next. The unbaked assembled pie can also be frozen, covered well with both plastic and foil. Defrost in refrigerator all day or preferably overnight before baking uncovered. (It might need to bake a bit longer in case the very center is not completely defrosted.)
Voilà! Chicken Pot Pie mastered. Next up…hu hu hummus.
*Something you don’t know about me? When I was living in New York with Gracie (David was in LA working) in 2010, I lived exactly 3 blocks from my friend, Diandra, and her three children. She is like a sister to me so needless to say dinners at her house were mandatory. Gracie and I ate dinner at her house… Eight nights a week. :-). We walked out of our apartment on E. 68th St., hung a right onto Park Avenue, walked three blocks to the corner of 65th and Park and voilà, we were there. We never ate in Diandra’s formal dining room, we always had our dinners in the cozy little nook off of the downstairs kitchen. However, formal manners were required. Diandra’s three children were all under the age of seven at that time. Gracie was in 10th grade. Everyone was still ripe for some Emily Post table manners instruction. We were adamant about it. I admired the fact that Diandra refused to let the children say out loud after they had finished eating, “I’m done.” She preferred for them to say, “Thank you, I’m satisfied.” Hearing a little six-year-old girl say, “I’m satisfied” still, to this day, makes me crack a smile. However, this isn’t to say that our dinners were not fun. Quite the contrary. Every evening, without fail, we would engage the children with a brilliant game. The game was called Roses & Thorns. It was a game devised to get our children to talk, to communicate, to express themselves. There were no wrong answers and everyone could hardly wait for their turn, including the adults. The premise of the game was simple, Diandra would ask all of the children, “What is your thorn of the day and what is your rose?” This gave everyone a chance to get anything off of their chest that was bothering them (their thorn) and also an opportunity to relish on something positive (their rose). How brilliant is that! Since it was a therapy session wrapped up in a game, no one was too shy to express their feelings.… Including Gracie, believe it or not. After each person described their thorn and rose for the day, we all talked about it. Everything was on the table. Advice was given, giggles were had, sometimes tears were shed. The children also learned to understand that even the adults had their daily thorn and daily rose. We did this every night of the week! Needless to say, obviously, we have the most well-adjusted children on earth. :-) Just kidding, but I do honestly believe that giving ones children the opportunity on a daily basis, without sweeping anything under the carpet, to express their feelings whether they be a thorn or a rose in a safe, familiar environment without judgment, is the key to a happy child.
Obviously, as you can see from the following photos, our
children have the utmost respect for dinnertime manners...
However, I must say that after I was diagnosed with ALS, Gracie shut down. No matter how many people have spoken to Gracie about my ALS, she will not discuss it. Therapists, counselors, “church people”, Yolanda, Jenny, my parents, my sister, David, Gracie’s father and even myself… She will not go there. Many well-intentioned people have told me that I need to keep trying but I know my daughter. I know that she knows “the situation” because I did not raise an idiot. This may come off to some people as Gracie being insensitive, aloof, reserved and even kind of a, dare I say… A b*tch. But I know the real truth… It’s called self-preservation. This is a pain so deep that we just need to keep it there... Where it is… Buried away. Forcing Gracie to talk about the fact that she drew the short stick when it comes to her mother’s longevity, is a cruel and unusual punishment. Like pouring salt on a wound. They always say that God does not give you anything that you cannot handle. I call bullshit on that theory. It may look like Gracie and I are handling this with bravery… But we are not. We are both wearing masks. In truth, we are walking around the streets of Paris with hearts that have actually been broken in half. Even that well-intentioned childhood game at Diandra’s could not prepare us for this pain. There is no rose with ALS. This thorn is too sharp.
How’s that for a happy blog? You’re welcome. :-)