Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Inspiration Nation Southern Chicken Pot Pie - 4/13/11

This is easy to prepare ... comforting to eat ... pretty to look at. 

2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, halved and sliced
3 large chicken breast halves, total weight about 1 1/2 pounds, cut into one inch cubes
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
kosher salt, black pepper, Emeril's Essence
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/4 cup sherry
1-1 lb. bag Publix frozen vegetable soup mix, defrosted in colander under hot running water
1 tube Grands Flaky Layers Honey Butter Biscuits (8 big biscuits)

4 individual oven to table crocks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

First, take a leek:  Leeks look like green onions on steroids.  They are a cousin to onions, mild mannered and well behaved.  One thing about leeks, you really don't get the full benefit of the flavor raw, so they are always cooked.  They also tend to be sandy, so you will want to trim off the root end and the dark green leaves, cut the leek in half lengthwise, and run them under cold water.  Dry well with paper towels, then slice.

Melt the butter in a large pan, and when bubbly, add the sliced leeks.  Stir and cook until they soften.  Don't let them brown.  Remember to season them with salt and pepper while cooking.

Season the cubed chicken with salt, pepper, and Essence.  Add the chicken to the pan with the leeks and cook the chicken until no pink color remains. 

Strip the leaves from the thyme sprigs and add them to the pan.  Now add the flour to the pan, and stir to coat the chicken and leeks completely.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the flour no longer has a "raw" smell, and looks a little pasty (you've just made a roux.  Mazel tov!)  Combine the stock, cream, and sherry, and pour gradually into the pan, stirring after each addition.  When all the liquid is added, bring contents of pan to a boil, then lower heat slightly and keep stirring while the sauce bubbles and thickens.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning and sherry, if you like.  Stir the well-drained vegetables into the pan and heat everything together so it thickens.  Your sauce should look like it is somewhere between a medium and a thick bechamel.  Check your seasoning one more time, and adjust if necessary.

Carefully divide the hot chicken filling between the four crocks.  Each crock will be filled to within an inch of the top.  Don't overfill.  Open the biscuits, and cut each biscuit in half.  For each crock, take two of the biscuits (4 halves) and separate each half into two flaky layers.  Arrange on the top of the chicken filling.  When all the pot pies are complete, bake on the middle rack of a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until the biscuit topping is firm and starting to brown.  Don't overbake or the filling will start to bubble up and leak out.

Cook like there's nobody watching, and eat like it's heaven on earth.

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