Friday, January 6, 2012

Mexican Chicken Pot Pies

I had the television on the other day, when Rachael Ray's show came on. The only reason I left it on was that she mentioned she had gone to Mexico, and we had just gone to Mexico this past Thanksgiving so I wanted to see where she went. Plus I was folding laundry, so I needed some diversion, however lame it turned out to be.

You may already know, I really don't like Rachael Ray's recipes. I just don't. Every recipe I've ever tried of hers, if followed to the letter, comes out poorly. But I just keep trying, because honestly some of them sound good. Unfortunately, some just don't work, others are just plain gross. I wish I were kidding, but I'm not. And y'all KNOW I am a good cook.

She made "Mexican Chicken Pot Pies" on her show, and On Screen they looked fabulous. She had some good ideas, including poaching the chicken first, (although that is actually a Cook's Illustrated: The Best Recipe technique that I've done before) and baking puff pastry separately for a flaky, non-gooey top. She also had some bad ideas, like poaching the chicken with lime slices and cooking the vegetables too hot, and whatever that weird egg wash mixture was about. (for the record, I did ignore her egg wash recipe and made my own this time)

Some day I will learn NOT to give Ms. Ray the benefit of the doubt. Some day I'll learn that one simply MUST NOT follow her recipes to the letter, rather one must use them as a starting point, an inspiration if you will, and one must create her own recipes INSPIRED by Rachael Ray.

Yesterday, I made the aforementioned Mexican Chicken Pot Pies with Rachael Ray's recipe. They were disgusting. Boiling the limes with the chicken was likely the main problem; it imparted a bitter flavor to the chicken, and indeed the whole dish. I'm telling you, the bite of diced chicken I took after it had been poached? Gross. My husband thought it may have been the oil from the lime peel.

Still, I pressed on, hoping for the best, perhaps some of the other ingredients would mask the bitterness, for Pete's sake she has her own television show! I made the entire recipe, tasted the pie filling to "adjust" the flavors, and I kid you not, I had to open a bottle of wine just to get that taste out of my mouth! (My facebook friends can attest this is the truth!)

We made the boys hamburgers for dinner.

I should have known better than to hope at all. The pies were so disgusting that my mother-in-law took only one half of a bite, then ate the top crust washed down with 2 glasses of that lovely white wine. Number One and I only ate ours because we were simply starving, with copious amounts of wine after each bite, of course. About three glasses each, I'm guessing, just to get through one serving of that damn pie.

So with that whole episode behind me, I was left really really wanting a Delicious Chicken Pot Pie. After all, that crust was a wonderful idea. And I knew I could most definitely improve on Rachael's "Mexican" attempt, because we cook a lot of Mexican-inspired food. So I did. I used a few of her techniques, and many of the same classic pot pie ingredients but have adjusted both the amounts and some other things, so she only gets the "inspiration" credit from me.

To make ahead: Poach chicken and dice vegetables for filling. When chicken is done, dice and store separately. Cover diced vegetables. Strain stock and refrigerate all components. I'm pretty sure you could also successfully freeze the finished pie filling, then just thaw, heat and top with pastry...I will try it and let you know how it works!

This recipe is so much better than hers!
The pot pies are savory and fragrant and tangy, with just a hint of spicy heat.
Or more heat if you prefer! Not bitter in the least. ENJOY.

Mexican Chicken Pot Pies

Inspired by and greatly adapted from Rachael Ray's fiasco
Serves 4

For Poached Chicken:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium onion, halved
1 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, halved, seeds and stem removed
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Kosher salt

For Pie Filling:
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup corn kernels (thawed if frozen)
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 to 2 chipotles en adobo, minced, to taste (I use 1 if I'm feeding kids)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
juice of 1 lime

For Pie Tops:
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Place chicken in a pot with halved onion, carrot chunks, celery, jalapeno, bay leaves, crushed garlic and water to cover by 1/2-inch. Season with salt, bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer and poach 40 minutes. Remove solids and reduce stock over high heat for 10 to 20 minutes. You'll need about 2 cups for the pie filling.

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Dice chicken in bite-sized pieces.

Heat butter in medium skillet over medium heat, add chopped onions, carrots, garlic and corn, and cook to tender, stirring, for 10 minutes or so. Add flour and stir 1 minute, until the "flour" smell has dissipated and flour is no longer visible. Slowly whisk in about 2 cups of the reduced stock, then add cream and chipotle. Taste and adjust the chipotle, and add salt and pepper. Stir in chicken and reduce heat to low. Stir in lime juice, cover and keep warm (over low heat if needed) while you bake the pastry tops.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out puff pastry sheet on a floured surface. Cut out rounds the size of the bowls you wish to serve in and arrange them on the baking sheet. I also bake the pastry scraps right alongside the rounds. Brush pastry with egg yolk wash and bake until golden, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Serve chicken "filling" in bowls topped with pastry tops.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes

This is a delicious, quick dinner to pull together on a weeknight, or any night you'd like a savory, exotic and nutritious meal.

I had a huge chicken breast in the freezer, so I just diced that instead of using thighs and proceeded with the recipe. The rest of my notes are in italics, as usual. I served this with rice. The stew improves with time, so it's great if you have some leftover. Incidentally, I didn't remove the cinnamon stick or ginger, I just left it in the pot and in the container we stored the leftover stew in.

I will probably try freezing this meal and see how it does.

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes

Everyday Food, October 2007
Prep Time 15 minutes

Total Time 45 minutes

Serves 4

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil (I needed more oil before adding onions to pot)
1 medium onion, diced
1 piece fresh ginger (2 inches long), peeled
1 cinnamon stick
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used 1 1/2 cans)
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound total), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Pinch of saffron, (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup couscous or rice
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish (optional)

Place flour in a wide, shallow bowl. Season chicken with salt and pepper; dredge in flour, shaking off excess. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add chicken, and cook until browned, 4 to 6 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.

Heat 1 more tablespoon oil in the pot. Add onion, ginger, and cinnamon to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion starts to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Return chicken to pot. Add broth, sweet potatoes, and, if using, saffron. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sweet potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Discard ginger and cinnamon. Stir in lemon juice, and season stew with salt and pepper.

While stew is simmering, prepare couscous according to package instructions. Serve chicken stew with couscous, garnished with cilantro, if desired.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin