Roasted chicken pot pie

It’s that whole Fall thing, that desire for rich and creamy and not-exactly-lite fare.  Frankly, I am tired of salads. Around April, I get excited for them, with the snow peas and baby greens and all, but come September we all start a’hankerin’ stews and pot pies and anything with an obscene amount of buttery gravy and possibly alcohol.

Chopped veggies, a chicken, olive oil,salt and pepper

Now that it’s mid-to-latish October and we actually get to put a real blanket on the bed and not just another sheet pretending to be a blanket, I am making rich fattening filling meals. Because Winter is coming and we need that extra subdermal layer of adipose tissue to provide energy during the hibernation period. Except that we’re not bears or squirrels. O well.

Perfectly roasted, do not let the skin go to waste, even though it doesn’t go in the recipe! mmmmm crispy skin….

Ok so we don’t need that, but isn’t there something wonderful about knowing that your house has the aroma of roasting vegetables, garlic, and chicken, and you can catch a whiff even as you turn into the driveway and KNOW that you did something RIGHT and your family will approve? Yes, there is.

In the bowl, waiting for the gravy. See, no skin. It would just get nasty and limp. Go ahead and eat it.

This chicken pot pie recipe was first spotted in a Fine Cooking magazine eons ago…I don’t remember which issue, but in the interest of full disclosure, this is not my own unique recipe. However, I have made a few changes, particularly in the top crust.

Pour in all that lovey silky gravy. Don’t forget to add the crusty bits from the deglazed roasting pan!

I am not a pastry chef. Whenever possible, I buy the pie crusts in the refrigerator section of the store. Sometimes I use those crescent rolls.  The original recipe had you making this buttery puff pastry from scratch and the 3 times I tried it, it turned out this greasy unpleasant stuff. So, I switched to a biscuit top. Who doesn’t love that?  I reckon you could use canned biscuits, but with so much effort going into the filling, I’d rather make semi-homemade. Yes, you could make biscuit dough from scratch and it would be lovely. I am tired. I have spent the entire day making the filling and doing endless loads of laundry so I used a biscuit mix.   I wanted biscuits with herbs mixed in and that’s hard to do with canned ones.  They are slightly customized with buttermilk (add a bit of baking soda to the mix) and lovely chopped oregano and thyme.

Biscuit mix,chopped herbs, artfully photographed in sunlight through a window. I call it “Biscuit Mix With Herbs In A White Bowl.”

As always, after picking all the meat off the chicken, I roasted bones with an onion and a couple of carrots, then threw it in the crockpot with a gallon of water to make stock. I am mildly embarrassed to admit that I used commercially made stock for the recipe, because I was all out of the homemade. It was a sad state of affairs, but one punts when one has to.

Daisy was feeling lazy and was pouting because I didn’t share the chicken skin with her.

This recipe makes a very large amount, so divy it up into 2 casserole dishes, and then cook one of them until the biscuits aren’t quite brown, cover it with foil, and freeze it or give it to a sick friend, so they can warm it up when comfort food is required.

mmmm with a glass of white wine and a blanket, and a good movie…perfect.

Roasted Chicken Pot Pie

1-4 pound whole chicken

6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

3 cups baby carrots (or 6 carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks)

3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cut lengthwise then sliced thin

2 heaping tablespoons minced garlic

olive oil

salt and pepper

generous handful of fresh chopped oregano and thyme  (or parsley, or AND parsley)

1/2 cup white wine (or water, tho wine is very nice)

3/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup flour

1- 32 oz carton chicken broth

 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Put the cut up vegetables and garlic in a big bowl and drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Put them all in the bottom of a really big roasting pan, and put the chicken on top. Drizzle a little oil,salt and pepper on the chicken. Put it in the oven and roast for an hour, until the chicken is crispy and brown, and the veggies are brown and it all smells so good your 24 yr old son wanders in and announces that he’s hungry.

After an hour, take it out of the oven. The vegs underneath the chicken might not be completely done and that is OK. Also, the chicken might not be 100% done and that is OK too. Let it cool long enough that it is easy to handle (about the amount of time it takes to fold 2 baskets of laundry and watch an episode of CSI you DVR’d last week). Pick all the meat off the chicken and tear it into small pieces. Put it in a huge bowl, and scrape the vegs over into it too.  Add the chopped herbs.

There will be crusty stuff in the roasting pan. If it’s a metal pan,set it on the stove and turn the stove on to medium. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the crusty bits.  Set that aside.

In a pot, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Let this cook on low, stirring occasionally until it is a light toasty brown and smells like something you want to eat all by itself with a spoon.. Slowly pour in the carton of chicken broth, stirring with a whisk. Turn the heat up a little. Scrape the crusty wine stuff from the roasting pan into it. Stir frequently until you have a nice medium-thick gravy.

Pour the gravy over the chicken and vegs in the big bowl and stir it all up.

Spray a couple of casserole dishes with no stick stuff, and put the filling in each dish. I used a 9×9 and an 8×12 oval pan.

For the topping:

3 cups Jiffy or Bisquick biscuit mix

1 teaspoon baking soda

a generous handful of the same herbs you put in the filling

1-1/2 cups of buttermilk (maybe more, you want a sticky dough)

Stir it all together.

Drop by generous spoonsful onto the filling.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes,until the biscuits are brown and the filling is bubbling up.
(The thicker the biscuit crust is, the longer it needs to cook. Check it after 40 minutes to see if the dough is done underneath. If not, give it 10 more minutes.)

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The Perfect Trifecta: mirapoix, roux, and andouille.
October 17, 2012, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Philosophical, Southern

Ok see, it’s gotten cold here. Coldish, anyway. Enough so that we had to put a quilt (as opposed to a thin cotton blanket) on the bed, and I actually closed the windows a little because wide open was TOO cold.

Anyway, I love Creole and Cajun food. They are similar but not exactly the same. Also, this post is about how I am feeling, due to situations with work stuff, not about a fancy pants recipe that you need to be impressed with…I mean (in order to refrain from offending my English Teacher Friend)…not about a fancy pants recipe for which you should be impressed.

Did I mention that I am on my second pear vodka with mango juice and Pellegrino water? No? It’s good. Equal parts each. You’re welcome.

Anyway, I found this recipe for a gumbo type stew (not actual gumbo as there’s no file’ nor okra…but that’s ok. They are forgiven due to the mirepoix and roux and andouille)

So I fixed it today. It’s cool. The weather is approaching the semblance of cool fall weather that asks one to give up the salads and embrace the stew.

Also? It has beans. Lots and lots of many different kinds. I love beans. They’re cheap and high in protein and wonderful.

Anyway, the roux. It smells like…toast and butter and angels wings and babies after a nap. Throw in some mirepoix and let cook a minute before you add it to the cooked beans and the angels start singing loud songs and warming you with their angel-breath (which smells like butter and toast)

Do I have clever pictures, artistically photographed with stylish bowls and comfortable spoons? No. Of course not.

However the roux with the mirepoix…oh my heavenly saints and angels that smells good. Then, after the whole mess is dumped in the stewed beans and sausage, scraping the pan of the last little tidbits of butter and toasted flour flavored with the onion….happy sigh. So flamin’ good.  I am waiting for the family to all go to bed so I can shamelessly lick the pan.

It’s the kind of thing you want to keep eating even though you’re full. You want to eat it until you throw up so you can eat some more.

Gross? TMI? maybe…but the Roman would do it and I used to think that was weird but now I totally understand why.



Continental Catfish
October 9, 2012, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Fish, salad, Southern

Look at all those ingredients! So complicated!

Once upon a time, a long time ago (22 years ago! Wow!) we lived in L.A.  Lower Alabama, that is, in a sweet little town called Monroeville. Among it’s multitudinous charms, there is a lovely restaurant called David’s Catfish House.   Best. Catfish. Ever.  It’s served family style, with big bowls of fabulous cole slaw and creamy amazing cheese grits. Do you know what they do? They use evaporated milk in the recipe (which will follow). It makes for amazing and creamy grits.

Tricky to assemble, too.

Anyway, back when we lived there, the boys (now 24,22 and 21…#4 hadn’t been born yet) were 3,1, and An Argument Thanksgiving Weekend. David, our second son, quickly learned that he and the restaurant shared a name, and it became His Restaurant. It was obvious, what with his name right there on the sign and also written in the linoleum tiles in the entrance.  All the boys learned that when I said “I think we should eat catfish tonight” didn’t mean fishsticks from the oven.  It meant hot, crisp fried catfish,rolled in cornmeal and fried in fresh peanut oil. They didn’t fry it until it was ordered, so it was always piping hot and delectable.

Worth the effort, tho.

However, I am not writing about their (amazing and…throw in a few more adjectives…) fried catfish, but instead about the baked ones.  One day I didn’t want fried catfish (seriously?? I cannot imagine it now that the restaurant is a solid 8 hour drive away) but instead tried the Continental Catfish- a spicy baked version.  It was delicious and the kitchen was happy to share the recipe, even though it is so simple it meant I probably wouldn’t order it anymore, because it could be made at home in the amount of time it takes to put 3 preschoolers into the minivan and drive to the restaurant.  That’s ok though, because I’d still order the delectable fried ones.

Just look at that lovely stuff, will you…

Here’s what you need:

2 pounds catfish fillets (8 or so)

1/2 cup lemon juice (from the bottle is fine)

1 stick of butter, cut into 8 pats (or however many fish fillets you have)

Your favorite Cajun or Creole seasoning blend. I use Zatarain’s Creole Blend, but Emeril’s or Tony Cacheries’  works too.

Put the frozen catfish in a 9×13 casserole dish. Pour the lemon juice all over (it will freeze onto the fillets, which is very cool), and put a pat of butter on top of each fillet. Sprinkle generously with the seasoning blend. Use however much seasoning you like. Bake at 400 degrees until the catfish is opaque and flakes easily.

How easy is that?!

More complicated than the fish. Start it earlier if you’re using long cooking grits.

Serve with Cheese Grits:

4 cups water

1 large (12 oz, I think?) can evaporated milk

1 cup long or quick cooking grits (NOT instant! Those things are a travesty!)

1 teaspoon each salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on how hot you like stuff (or use paprika if you absolutely don’t like hot pepper)

1 to 1-1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (or mild, or colby, if sharp cheese isn’t your thing)

Season them up!

Put the water and canned milk in a pot and bring to a boil. Slowly stir in the grits and seasonings. Turn the heat down to simmer and put the lid on it. Stir frequently to keep it from sticking on the bottom of the pot. Cook until the grits are done and nice and creamy. Stirring frequently is important. I use a whisk to break up any lumps, as my husband says “life is too short to eat lumpy grits.”  When the grits are done, stir in the cheese. Taste it and see if it needs more cheese, salt, or pepper. Adjust the seasoning to suit your taste.  Turn off the heat and put the lid back on.  Serve with the catfish.

mmm creamy goodness

If you put the catfish in the oven, then you can make the grits in about the time it takes for the catfish to bake, if you use quick cooking grits. If you use long cooking (like I do), make the grits first, give them about 20 minutes to cook before you make the catfish.  The grits I use are actually really coarse, so they take nearly an hour to cook. As long as you keep stirring them so they don’t stick, you really can’t overcook them (even with the quick cooking ones) and as long as they don’t scorch, the longer they cook the creamier they get.  Use as low a temperature as you can to keep them at a simmer.  Low and slow…that’s the idea to get creamy grits.

An attempt at an artsy picture of shredded cheese

Serve them up with your favorite cole slaw. Terry likes the simple kind- no fancy ingredients like dill or white wine vinegar or blood orange juice., Just simple Southern Style slaw:

Cole Slaw

8 cups finely shredded cabbage

2 cups shredded carrots

1 cup good mayonnaise (Duke’s, if you can get it. Otherwise Hellman’s or Kraft)

1/4 cup sweet pickle relish

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

Mix together the cabbage and carrots. In another bowl, mix together the mayo, relish, and mustard. Stir that into the cabbage mix. Do not make this way ahead of time, and the dressing will draw water out of the cabbage and you’ll get watery slaw.  Mix it up right before you serve it.



Easy Chili
October 1, 2012, 3:53 pm
Filed under: Easy but not quick, How To Land A Man, Meat, Staples | Tags:

It isn’t really cold yet. I mean, it never is COLD cold in Deepest South Georgia. The best we do here is a 2 day stretch in January where socks are required. Although last year we had an entire week where it was below 30 every night. You’da thought it was a new Ice Age, the way people grumbled about heating bills and lack of wool socks at the TBM (that is the local feed-seed-hunting supply place).

We like coldish weather. Well, the menfolk do, anyway, but they all have pelts and I don’t. What we do agree on is cold weather food. Spicy stuff that is filling and warm in the belly and rich with spices and meat. Stews are a household favorite, as are Thai curries and chowders in their myriad forms. Later on I’ll do a post on Low Country Crab Stew…which is like New England clam chowder only with crab meat and more crab meat replacing the potatoes and a dollop of sherry.

This is all it takes (plus a pound of hamburger)…how simple is that?

So last week I was anxious for cool weather. Mother Nature was teasing us with 60 degree nights and 75 degree days that allowed for open windows and a semblance of a blanket on the bed. The menfolk were making their stew-needing noises and I, frankly, was hankering some myself.

Brown that meat! In a great big pot!

CHILI! I shouted! With FRITOS! They replied. Because that’s how we do it. Also with cornbread but mainly with Fritos because they are elemental and perfect in every way. And no, not tortilla chips. Thick, salty Fritos. And not knockoffs, either. Frito-Lay brand Fritos.

Everything but the masa. Don’t add that yet or you’ll have nasty little lumps.

Now. I come from a chili-making family. My father, a Proud Texan, has his Own Recipe which he got from Wick Fowler. He, when he was a professor of Veterinary Medicine, would make 30 gallons at a time for the Omega Tau Sigma fraternity of which he was advisor. I would help because…y’know. Fraternity of veterinary students. Hellooo. His method involved chuck roasts and pinto beans and quart jars of Mom’s home canned tomatoes and more quart jars of his Own Special Blend of Herbs and Spices. It was (and still is) delicious. And it took all day because all that meat (like 30 pounds of it) would have to be cut into 1/2 inch chunks, then cooked in pair of massive cast iron pots over a low fire outside where the entire Fraternity Row would smell it and have jealousy. The beans were cooked the day before, and everything blended in perfect harmony to be slow simmered for several hours until He Pronounced It Ready. Oh, and he always made a gallon of “Special Chest Hair Growth Formula” chili that involved Mom’s home grown habeneros.

Mix it up good. Such a lovely shade or red.

Then I married Terry, who’s chili background was South Georgian, thus deemed ‘inferior’ by my Texas-born self…I have since learned that was pretty tactless, and actually come to like his version of chili…which involved opening cans and a pound of hamburger. It’s certainly faster and honestly, no less tasty than Dad’s (please don’t tell him that.)

Put the lid on it, turn the heat down low, and go enjoy a chapter of that new book.

Now, the version I make is a hybrid of the 2. I open a few cans- tomatoes, mainly, but occasionally beans if I decided at 5 to make chili, and not the day before where I could cook beans myself. I also use a package of chili seasoning…but it’s Wick Fowler’s which tastes remarkably like Dad’s recipe. Sometimes, if I am feeling Authentic, I’ll cut up a 2 pound chuck roast but mostly I just use hamburger (ground round, because it’s leaner and I always spill and make a mess when draining browned meat).

Daisy is pretty sure I might let her help. Good dog.

Terry’s the one who taught me to eat it over Fritos. Bless him. We’ve also eaten it over rice, which is really quite good and a great way to stretch it if one (or 2…sometimes 3) of the household sons brings a friend over. I also keep spare cans of beans for stretching, as well.

Add the masa and water to the long-simmered chili and stir in well.

Here we go!

Easy Chili
1 pound ground beef, browned in the bottom of a great big pot.
1 package Wick Fowler’s 2 Alarm Chili Seasoning Mix (ignore the directions on the package)
2 large cans crushed tomatoes
1 large can petite diced tomatoes
4 cups cooked pinto beans (or 4 cans, drained and rinsed)
Once the meat is browned, dump everything (EXCEPT the little package of masa from the seasoning kit) into the pot with the browned meat, and stir. Simmer low and slow for an hour or so…OR…you could make this up in the morning in a crock pot, set it on low, and go to work (or shopping, or take a nap, or do your regular stuff…whatever that is).
About 10 minutes before you serve it…let’s say, before you set the table or sit down for an after work Adult Beverage…stir the little package of masa into a 1/4 cup (or so…precision is not paramount) of water until well mixed and not lumpy, then pour that into the chili and stir it up. It will help thicken it and gives another layer of flavor…mild sort of corn-in-the-background flavor. If you forget to do this, that’s ok, but it’s worth it.

Proper chili is thick enough to stand the spoon up in, regardless of my inability to write a sentence that doesn’t with a preposition end.

 

Fill a bowl about 1/2 with Fritos, and ladle the chili on top of it. Isn’t that lovely!

 

Gratuitous picture of Taste-Tester #4 posing so I’ll take his picture and put it up here.

 

Now, the chili seasoning mix comes with a tiny packet of red pepper. This will take the chili to 2-alarm level. I don’t care for that, so I don’t add it. However, you might, and that is fine! The household menfolk like chili at 3 or 4 alarm level, so they add this dried pepper blend Terry’s father gives us, that is made from 6 types of peppers some friend of his grows in his garden, that includes habenaros, Thai bird chilis, and some other Satanic version of hot pepper. But, since it is much easier for them to add heat than it is for me to remove it, I don’t put it in the pot with the other stuff.