Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Haldan Farm Chicken Pot Pie

Yesterday I was able to successfully turn what started out as a cold and windy day into a beautiful sunny warm day simply by planning a meal more appropriate for the morning weather. Alas, by planning a cold-weather meal I was able to guarantee a warm day!

Despite the beautiful weather everyone loved the meal. For some, it was possibly the first non-commercial, non-frozen pot pie they had ever had.

Here it is:

Haldan Farm Chicken Pot Pie

2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1 t salt
6 - 8 T very cold butter cut into 1 T chunks (fresh from your own cow is great)
2/3 cups buttermilk (again, fresh from your own cow is best)
Egg wash made with one yolk and 1 to 2 T water.

In a food processor, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add all but 2 T of the butter and pulse until looks like meal. Add rest of the butter and pulse just enough to barely chop. Add buttermilk all at once and pulse until the dough is soft and shaggy and just comes together. Form into a ball with as little handling as possible, wrap and put in the refrigerator.

1 whole chicken (home-raised, if possible)
2 cups fresh peas (home-raised, if possible. Rinse frozen ones could be used in an emergency)
1 cup diced carrots (home-raised, if possible. It was not possible for us this year - the slugs got to all of them!)
2 cups 1/2 inch diced "boiling" or new potatoes (home-raised...)
1 T salt, or to taste
black pepper
1 t cumin
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional, but we like the boost it gives to the gravy)
2 stalks coarsely chopped celery

Wash chicken and put into a pot. Cover with water, add celery, and cook for about an hour and a half, or until the chicken is well-cooked. Don't over cook.

Let the chicken cool slightly, remove the chicken from the pot, and then let cool some more. When it is cool enough to handle remove the meat from the bones and cut into 3/4 inch (more or less) cubes. From a large-ish chicken you should have about 1 1/2 pounds of chicken meat, slightly more than 4 cups. Cover the meat and refrigerate.

Strain the stock and discard celery. You need about six cups of stock. Feel free to have more if you want more gravy. Add the salt to the stock and cook the vegetables in the salted stock until they are just done. Meanwhile...

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a separate heavy-bottomed pot melt about 6 ounces of butter. Add about 6-7 T of flour and stir to make a roux. Add the hot stock and vegetables and stir until thick and bubbly. Mix the nutritional yeast with some water in a bowl or jar and add the dissolved nutritional yeast to the gravy. Add the cumin and black pepper. Add the chicken and cook until hot.

Pour the filling into a large pan for baking (I used a 9x11 inch pyrex dish). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is large enough to cover the pan with slightly overhanging edges. Trim dough to about 1/2 inch over the edge of the pan and flute to decorate and to help hold it onto the pan. Make an egg wash (with your home-raised eggs, of course) with one egg yolk and a T or two of water. Brush the egg wash on the dough. Cut many vent holes. Put into the preheated oven. Cook about 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is nicely browned. Serve immediately.

Makes about 8 or more servings.

Some tips:
The filling must be bubbling *before* you add the crust or the crust will be too hard and overdone before the filling is cooked. You can use less pots and pans by making the filling in a large cast iron (as pictured) or other pot and put the crust right on top of that and stick it in the oven.

To make it ahead make the filling and refrigerate. Make the dough and refrigerate. Right before serving heat the filling to bubbling before topping with the crust and baking. All can be made a day in advance.

You can substitute half of the flour with whole-wheat flour. Add a little more buttermilk.