Food Network’s Chicken PotPie with Cheddar Crust and a Narrowly Avoided Meltdown

I have a confession.  I’m a food porn addict.  I have shelves stuffed with magazines and cookbooks.  I have a folder of bookmarked food blogs and recipe sites that I visit regularly.  I get that tingly feeling in my stomach when I see a picture of some delicious looking food and I just want to–Well, before this goes any farther and we’re all freaked out, let’s just say that I really like food pictures.

When I was in line at the grocery store the other day I noticed the October issue of Food Network Magazine.  I’m a sucker for a steamy, thick, creamy, broccoli cheese soup and there happened to be a bowl filled with this goodness right on the cover.  Sold!  It helped that it’s the fall edition, too,  because I love almost all food associated with it.

Now, before I get into the fabulousness that is the chicken potpie recipe featured in this month’s issue, it’s important to note that I have not been feeling like a very good cook lately.  I seem to either be finding really mediocre recipes on the internet or I’m making very highly rated recipes in a mediocre fashion.  I’ve also been pressed for time recently and haven’t really wanted to cook when so many other things needed my attention.  Cooking always wins the time constraint argument because I have to feed my 5-year-old, and since Stuart let me quit working at a “real” job  to do what I love at home, I feel like caring for the house and feeding the boys is my responsibility.  If I’m not going to be a serious breadwinner, at least I can be a serious bread maker.  If Stu’s going to be bringing home the bacon, the least I can do is fry the shit up and serve it with a side of something tasty.

I haven’t been making great food lately.  I’ve tried a lot of recipes from food.com that sounded really delicious and were rated highly by other users, but they’ve  turned out pretty lackluster.  After about three weeks of edible-but-not-awe inspiring meals I started to get discouraged with my cooking.  Stuart was very, very sweet throughout this pity party. He tried to make me feel better about my cooking and told me that my cooking was just fine, but I can’t be bothered to hear things like that when I’m in the throes of a massive, self inflicted personal crisis.  (Gods love that man.  Most days I don’t know how he puts up with my shit.  I hope he never wises up to the fact that there are other, more normal women out there carrying fewer bags than me.)

Just when I had decided never to cook another meal ever again, a friend posted this beautiful quote on his Facebook page: “Falling down is a part of life.  Getting back up is living.” Right there on Facebook, where I spend all my waking, procrastinating hours, was the incentive I needed to pick myself (and my pride) up off the floor, dust myself off, and get on with things.

Yesterday, I opened up the Food Network Magazine and got to work on my chicken potpie with cheddar crust (which took the greater part of the day to assemble, explaining why TFN labeled it “weekend cooking”).  The recipe called for a rotisserie chicken, but I figured  if I was going to attempt something so lavish, that I’d also bake my chicken.  It was the most beautiful, moist, flavorful chicken I’ve ever cooked and it made me feel good to know that I hadn’t lost all my cooking mo-jo while I was throwing a mental temper tantrum. It surprised me beyond measure to learn that I am actually competent enough to throw a bunch of ingredients together all willy nilly and create something edible).

I felt at home in the kitchen, like I belonged in there.  I had my Spotify blaring and I was wearing the adorable little red and white polka-dotted apron my mom and I found in an antique store in Jordan, NY.  There were no time constraints and no one was bugging me every five seconds to come look at some sort of Lego Star Wars battle or help with homework.  It was just me, Mumford and Sons, and the beautiful dead chicken, whose recipe follows.

Beautiful Dead Roasted Chicken with Poultry Spice

Every chicken has a destiny.

1  31/2-4 pound whole chicken

1/2 stick butter, room temperature

1 tbsp dried rosemary

1 tbsp dried thyme

1 tbsp dried sage

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

4 cups water

2 ribs celery

2 carrots

1 onion

handful of parsley

In small bowl, mix together butter, rosemary, thyme, and sage.  Set aside.  Pour water in a roasting pan.  Chop celery, carrot, and onion into large chunks and add to pan along with parsley.  Set the wire rack inside roasting pan. Discard innards, rinse chicken and pat dry.  Gently separate skin from meat using your fingers.  Using hands, rub butter mixture underneath and on top of the skin to coat.  Sprinkle top of chicken with salt and pepper.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 2-2 1/2 hours.

The water in the bottom of the pan creates a steam bath for the chicken that keeps it moist.  Putting the butter mixture between the skin imparts flavor that would have otherwise been lost in the potpie recipe since the skin gets discarded.  I can’t wait to slather my Thanksgiving turkey in butter and spices and roast that baby to golden perfection.

Ok, so on to the real reason you’re all here: my endlessly witty, prolific writing the potpie recipe.  Many thanks to the Food Network for making me feel competent in the kitchen again.

Food Network Magazine’s Chicken Potpie with Cheddar Crust with Commentary by Beth

FOR THE CRUST:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Humble Pie

1/2 tsp fine salt

freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar (I used 1 cup of Australian sharp and 1/2 cup of Kraft mild cheddar.  Someone ate part of my block of the Aussie stuff and I had to improvise.  *Cough* *Stuart* *Cough*

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

6 tbsp cold vegetable shortening

FOR THE FILLING:

1 3 1/2-4 pound roasted or rotisserie chicken

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

5 tbsp unsalted  butter

1 onion, chopped

5 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

6 stalks celery, chopped

6 carrots, chopped

Kosher salt

1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced  (Note: I used 10 oz of sliced shiitakes because you can’t find cremini mushrooms in this damn town.)

7 tbsp all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dry white wine

2/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

freshly ground pepper

1. Make the crust:  Pulse the flour, fine salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a food processor.  Add the cheese, butter, and shortening; pulse until the butter is in pea-size bits.  Ad 1/2 cup ice water and pulse until the dough just starts to come together. Turn out on a sheet of plastic wrap and pat into a disk.  Wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour and up to 2 days.

2.  Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Discard the chicken skin and shred the meat; set aside.  Put the bones in a pot and add the chicken broth.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Strain the broth and set aside.

3.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Melt the butter in a pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, thyme, celery, carrots, and 1/2 tsp Kosher salt; cook, stirring until soft, about 6 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and 1/2 tsp kosher salt; cook until soft, about 6 more minutes.  Add the flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.  Add the wine; cook until almost evaporated, about 1 minute.  Add the broth, cream, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thick, about 3 minutes.  Add the parsley, shredded chicken, and salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to a 3- to 4-quart baking dish (I used a 9×13 casserole dish).

4.  Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper until slightly larger than the baking dish.  Drape the dough over the filling, press it against the inside of the dish, and trim.  Brush with cream, then cut a few slits in the top.  Put on a baking dish (it’s going to bubble over a little); bake until golden, about 35 minutes.  Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

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