Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Chicken Stew with a Pastry Crust

Waking up to a temperature of 41 degrees F is such a nice change. I love the cooler weather of fall, even if the daytime temperatures have still been in the mid-80s and this weekend we'll be in the 90s again. Evening temperatures have been dropping a bit, too, which means it's OK to bake things for dinner like this great Chicken Stew with a Pastry Crust. The house still cools down overnight, so we still have that cooler thermal mass to help the living space stay cool without air conditioning.

You could call this dish a chicken potpie, but I made it in a skillet not a pie pan, so I like this name better. Either way it is a savory, comfort food sort of dish and great as the weather starts to turn cooler in the northern hemisphere.

Now you may think that this is a dish for the weekend when you have a lot of time, but really, if you have a rotisserie chicken, pre-rolled pie crust like the Pillsbury Ready Bake kind, and frozen mixed vegetables, you are halfway there. Don't be intimidated by the cream sauce. When you add the liquid all at once to the cooked flour, don't will seem lumpy. Just keep stirring like crazy and you will be amazed to find yourself with a wonderful white sauce to bind all the pot pie ingredients together. In case you are wondering, I made this without a recipe using proportions that I knew from past experience work.

I made the cream sauce that holds all the elements together with non-dairy butter and soy creamer, but you can easily make it with butter and whole milk, evaporated milk, or half and half. If you make it with lower fat milk, it will still be delicious, but less creamy tasting.

The sauce goes together in about 10 minutes.  Getting the chicken off the bone and cut into bite sized pieces while the frozen veggies defrost is about another 10.The sauteed veggies take another 10 or so. By that time the oven is probably preheated and then you bake it about 15 minutes to bake the crust and heat everything through. So you can have this on the table in 45 minutes or less. Toss together a salad while the crust bakes and you have a great meal. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

Chicken Stew with a Pastry Crust  
Serves 6-8

3-4 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (from a rotisserie chicken or leftover are good)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 a red bell pepper, stem, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
1  stalk celery, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 pie crust, rolled out (if  using refrigerated crust, bring to room temperature first)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large oven-proof skillet, saute the onion, bell pepper, celery and carrot until the onion is translucent and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook, lowering the heat to medium, and stirring often, for another 4 minutes. Set aside.

Cook the frozen veggies in a large bowl in the microwave  2 minutes. Add the cooked chicken that has been cut into bite sized pieces. Microwave 1 minute (unless the chicken is already warm). Remove from the microwave and scrape the cooked onion mixture into the bowl. Stir to combine.

In a medium saucepan melt the butter. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon or flexible spatula. Stir while flour cooks a bit, about 1/2 minute.  Add the seasoning and the thyme, some salt and pepper (what you would usually use for a sauce) and stir to combine. Place the milk and broth together in a container with a spout (I use a large measuring cup). Add the liquid to the hot flour mixture all at once, then stir briskly to combine the flour mixture with the liquid. Continue to stir as the mixture cooks for 3-4 minutes and becomes thickened. Pour over the chicken and veggies in the bowl and stir gently to combine.

Wipe out the oven-proof skillet with a paper towel. Scrape the chicken stew mixture into it and top with the pie crust. Tuck the end under or let them come up the side if the crust is larger than the pan. Cut 2-3 slits in the crust for steam to escape.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust becomes golden brown. Serve at once.

No comments :

Post a Comment