Saturday, March 19, 2011

Flexitarian (Chicken) Pot Pies

Most readers of this blog know that I have a very diverse group of eaters that visit me pretty regularly. When I learned the other night that a friend who was joining us for dinner was a vegetarian, my thoughts of a lovely roasted pork tenderloin stuffed with all sorts of goodies faded away. He swore that he would be fine with salad and a side dish but that didn't sit well with me.... back to the drawing board! I have owned Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Parties! cookbook for a while now and even though her recipes are delicious (and relatively easy) I don't think that I have ever actually taken more than a glance at the whole book (sadly this happens to a lot of my cookbooks). The last page in the book has a menu for a fireside dinner.... while we do have a fire place it is decorative (and probably hasn't been used in about 50 years!) but this menu gave me some wonderful inspiration!

My ideal dinner for company is a flexitarian one - where I can customize for meat eaters and veggies without having the stress of two separate dishes. This means that no one gets left out and stuck eating salad and no one has to feel "cheated" by leaving out the meat (though there are many hearty veggie friendly ideas out there). Chicken Pot Pies actually were very east to "flex".... with a few changes to the traditional gravy that is used in the pie (I substituted a creamy sauce for gravy) all I needed to do was to add the chicken to the mix after serving up my veggie friends. This dinner is perfect for the fireside or just a delicious dinner that is easy to freeze and can easily be made in bulk so that you have a left over pie for later. I recommend preparing the roasted chickens and pie crust in advance (ie the night before) unless you have a few hours to spend on this meal.

Flexetarian/Chicken Pot Pie 
1/2 batch Pate Brisse Crust  (do not bake... just have the dough ready up to step #5)
1/2 chicken (or 2 breasts)-  roasted with herbs de provance and garlic
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 c heavy cream
1 c milk (I used some 2% to try and lighten this up a touch.... but to be honest there is already a ton of butter and cream so its up to you)
2 c carrots coins
1 onion - diced
3 ribs celery - diced
2 c potato - peeled and diced (I used baby red potatoes but you can use most any variety)
2 c baby bella mushrooms - quartered
1 bunch of asparagus - the top 4" cut into 1" chunks
2 shallots - finely diced
a handful of fresh parley, thyme and sage
2 or 3 cloves of garlic - smashed and diced
salt & pepper
1 pinch saffron
olive oil
1 egg & water for egg wash

1) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and drop in the potatoes for about 10 -15 min (until just soft) - strain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking
2) In a sauce pan, make a roux with the butter and flour. Add the warmed milk/cream about 1/2 c at a time stirring with a whisk in between to smooth the sauce.
3) Add salt, pepper and saffron to the cream sauce and set aside.
4) In a wok pan, saute some garlic in oil  - add the shallots and onions
5) As they begin to soften, add the carrots, celery, asparagus ans mushrooms - stir and allow to soften
6) Add the chopped herbs and stir together
7) Add about 1/2 of the cream sauce to the vegetables and mix
8) Assemble the individual crocks for the vegetarian pies - add 2 or 3 big scoops of vegetables until filled to the rim - set aside
9) Dice up the meat from the chicken breasts (discard any skin/bones) and add to veggie mix
10) Assemble the chicken pot pies by adding 2-3 scoops of the mixture to the crocks (make sure you have a way to tell them apart! I used two different color bowls)
11) Portion out the remaining cream sauce into the crocks
12) Roll out the pate brisse dough between two pieces of wax paper until about 1/8" thick
13) Cut out a circle slightly larger than the crock and lay it gently on top. Press down the edges to seal. (you can use a cookie cutter to cut the scraps for decorations)
14) Go over the crust with an egg wash and place in the oven for 1 hr at 375 F