April 3, 2009

Chicken Pot, Chicken Pot, Chicken Pot Pie!

I made the best chicken pot pie, ever!!! And I can't take *too* much credit- the crust was really what made it. And I used the 'Foolproof Pie Crust' recipe from Cook's Illustrated. While I was making this dough, I was extremely skeptical because of the bizarre texture. It was like Play Doh, but turned into the most delicious, flavorful, flaky, crunchy crust I've ever had. It tasted like it was made from Ritz crackers.

The secret is to replace some of the water with vodka. Water and flour form gluten togther, so by the time you use all the water you need, you'll have a tough crust. But alcohol and flour don't form gluten, so by substituting in vodka for half the water, you can use all the liquid you need, without fearing a tough end result. Genius.

The filling was made by creating a roux from butter and flour, adding 2 cups chicken broth, and 1 1/2 cups of half and half, plus some leftover shredded chicken. I added chopped carrots, onions (sauteed in butter), peas, chopped potatoes and some fresh herbs. I baked the whole thing for 30 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.

But forget the whole chicken pot pie thing - my biggest point is this crust recipe. You've got to try it. Oh, and I didn't use a food processor. I just followed the recipe and cut in the butter and shortening by hand with two knives. Turned out great, even though it looks bizarre!

Foolproof Pie Dough
from Cook's Illustrated

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add butter and shortening and process until dough resembles cottage cheese curds and there is no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough around mixer blade. Add remaining flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl (4 to 6 quick pulses). Empty mixture into medium bowl. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture.

With a rubber spatula, using a folding motion, mix dough until it is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten into 4" disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.