Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Asparagus and Chicken Pot Pie






     A Free Standing Pot Pie!  Elegant Comfort Food!
     Stewed chicken in a casserole dish that has a piece of pre-baked puff pastry plopped on top is not a real chicken pot pie.  There are many restaurant chefs that present pot pie like this and such an item is disappointing at best.  This style of modern pot pie presentation really is nothing more than a bowl of stew with a piece of pastry placed on top.  A real meat pie should not be served like stew in a bowl with a piece of crust placed on top.

     The original pies from the European Dark Ages began as a method of keeping food safe to eat for a longer period of time.  The original pie doughs were not considered to be edible.  The salty dough encased the food like a tin can after baking.  Several days or weeks later, the hard dough was cracked open and the ingredients inside were eaten.  The inedible crust was thrown away or fed to pigs on the farm.

     Later in  the evolution of pie, the crust was designed to be an edible part the meal.  This was the beginning of modern pies.  Savory pies were the only pies made in the Medieval Age of history, because sweet sugar and fruit were not yet commonly available.  Fruit was strictly eaten only as fresh fruit back in those days.
     Modern meat pies are descendant of the original Medieval style meat pies that had edible crusts.  There is a lot of tradition that goes into the making of an old fashioned English, French or German meat pie.  According to old tradition, a meat pie is completely surrounded by crust.

     For today's recipe, I did get a little bit fancy and I did lattice the top of the pie crust.  That is about as fancy as my own meat pie recipes get.  Modern meat pies should be free standing, just like the earliest Medieval meat pies.
     A pot pie or meat pie can be cooked in a casserole, as long as the crust completely seals the ingredients in the crock.  This style of meat pie began at sometime in the 1600's.  If making a free standing pot pie is a challenge, then using the crusted casserole option is a good choice..
   
     Pâte Brisée - French Pie Crust Dough:
     Follow this link to the recipe in this website:
     • Pâte Brisée - French Pie Crust Dough

     White Roux:  
     This recipe yield some extra roux.  The roux can be refrigerated for 7 days.  The extra roux can be used to thicken any number of soups, stews and sauces.
     Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 2 ounces of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring, to create a roux.  The rous should look shiny and not caky.
     Constantly stir till the roux becomes a white color with very little hazelnut aroma.
     Place the hot roux in a ceramic container and let it cool.

     Chicken and Asparagus Pot Pie Filling:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 hearty single portion pot pie.
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of chicken stock in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 5 ounces of large bite size pieces of chicken thigh.
     Add 1/2 cup total of a mixture of these coarsely chopped vegetables:
     - Carrots
     - Celery
     - Leek
     - Onion
     Add 1 chopped green onion.
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced peeled asparagus stalks.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of marjoram.
     Add 2 pinches of chopped Italian parsley.
     Add 2 pinches of sage.
     Step 2:  Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer till the vegetables become al dente.
     *The broth should just barely cover the ingredients at this time.  Drain off any excess broth and save it for another recipe.
     Step 4:  Add just enough of the white roux to the pot pie mixture in the sauce pot, while stirring, to thicken the broth to a medium thick sauce consistency.
     Step 5:  Add 1 tablespoon of cream.
     Add about 8 short asparagus tips.
     Stir the ingredients.
     Step 6:  Remove the pot pie mixture from the heat.
     Let it cool to room temperature.
     Chill the filling in a refrigerator, till it is less than 60ºF.

     Asparagus and Chicken Pot Pie:
     Mini cheesecake pop ring molds are available in restaurant supply stores and at some kitchenware stores. 
     Step 1:  Lightly brush a small 4 1/2" to 5" wide pop-ring mold with melted unsalted butter.  (The mold should be about 2 1/2" to 3" deep.)
     Lightly dust the butter with flour.
     Step 2:  Roll a thin round shaped sheet of Pâte Brisée that is about 1 1/3 times as wide as the pop-ring mold.
     Drape the pie dough sheet over the ring mold and gently press it into place.
     Trim the edges, so the rim of the ring mold is not covered by the dough.
     Step 3:  Spoon the chilled chicken pot pie filling into the dough lined pop-ring mold, till only about 1/8" of empty space remains.
     Step 4:  Roll 6"x 6" sheet of pie dough.
     Cut 1/4" wide ribbon strips.
     Step 5:  *This next step requires a little bit of know how.  Making a lattice pattern is fairly easy to figure out.  If a tutorial reference is needed, do a search at Youtube video or refer to a baking cookbook.
     Lightly brush the exposed dough inside the ring mold near the top edge with egg wash.
     Place the strips of dough on top of the pot pie in a lattice pattern, so the ends of each ribbon drape over the rim of the pop-ring mold.
     Trim the ends of each lattice ribbon flush with the ring mold.
     Gently press the ribbon ends against the pie dough inside the ring mold, so they stick in place.
     Make sure that no dough is above the rim of the mold.  Be sure that all of the lattice ends are inside the ring mold, or when the ring mold is popped, the crust will break.
     Step 6:  Lightly brush the surface of the lattice with milk.
     Step 7:  Bake in a 350ºF oven, till the crust is a golden color.
     Step 8:  Allow the pie to cool to a safe serving temperature.
     Carefully and gently remove the pop ring mold.
     Use a wide spatula to free the pie from the base of the ring mold.
     Use the spatula to place the chicken and asparagus pot pie on a plate.
     Garnish with parsley sprigs.

     Viola!  A modern pot pie that really looks nice and tastes great!   

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