Even more artichokes, chicken, and pasta

When I was making my Grandma Crippes’ chicken cacciatore recipe, I was reminded of another of my favorite dishes. It involves many of the same ingredients, but it’s completely different.

This recipe was one of my favorites dating back to college, where I’d regularly order it at the student union. When I got out of college, I missed the rosemary chicken artichoke pasta so much that I decided to make it myself.

Rosemary chicken artichoke pasta ingredients.

Luckily as a pasta dish, and one that was literally put together in front of me for years, it was real easy to suss out the ingredients. As a young recent college grad, though, I still consulted with my mom and we came up with a recipe that I’ve been using ever since.

Mine never tasted exactly the same, but in fact, it was better. It was homemade and my artichokes are marinated. Plus, I may go a little overboard with rosemary, which suits my tastes even better.

It’s also incredibly easy to make, if not quite as instant as the student union dish. But if you boil the tortellini in the Dutch oven, it easily can be another one-pot pasta dish.

All in all, it’s perfect.

And I’ll work on making fewer pasta dishes here soon.

So pretty, and tasty too.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 bag frozen cheese tortellini (I like the tri-colored stuff because it’s pretty), cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, chopped
  • 2 T. oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh rosemary, chopped, to taste
  • 1 (14 oz) large jar marinated quartered artichokes hearts, drained
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 jar alfredo sauce (I get the one with garlic, but you can do traditional or whatever you like)

Directions

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and chicken, and saute until the chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Add in some of the rosemary (I like to add more as it nears completion too), and salt and pepper, as the chicken is cooking.

Once chicken is cooked, add in the artichokes and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally. Add in the tomatoes and cook another 1 to 2 minutes, until just warmed. Stir in the sauce and heat until boiling (it should happen quick with a good Dutch oven).

Add back in the pasta and more rosemary (if desired), stir to combine, and enjoy!

I made ghurma aloo and you can too

There’s nothing like traveling for a weekend to make me crave home-cooked, healthy fare. A weekend of eating fast food had me suddenly wishing for a big bowlful of vegetables.

But exhaustion from sleeping in unfamiliar environs and a late-night concert also meant I wanted something easy and stress-free.

Thankfully, I remembered the ghurma aloo recipe I came across sometime last year. Aloo is apparently Persian for potato, and ghurma is stew, so it’s definitely simple and easy with few ingredients.

Ghurma aloo ingredients.

However, I wanted a little more than potatoes — and tomatoes, onions, and spices. So, I added some peas and chickpeas, and skimped on a few of the potatoes. I served it over rice, and in all, it was ready in about the time it took to watch a “Psych” episode.

Aside from simple, it’s also just delicious.

If you cook Middle Eastern food at all, you’ll also have most of the spices on hand. The least likely is cumin seeds but we’ve kept those in our house for years. The others are turmeric, cayenne, and cilantro; plus, a little salt (and I threw in pepper).

It’s amazing what a handful of spices and time can do to vegetables.

So many wonderful veggies!

Here’s what I did, adapting a recipe on Epicurious:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes (I used Yukon Gold but any will work)
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 2 T. cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 t. ground turmeric
  • 1 t. salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Cayenne, to taste (I used about 2 t. and it was surprisingly spicy for my moderate palate)
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas
  • 1 to 1 ½ c. frozen peas
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, to taste
  • Rice for serving, optional

Directions

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they turn reddish brown, about 10 seconds. Add the potatoes, onion, and turmeric, and fry for about 5 minutes, until the onions and potatoes are lightly browned, stirring frequently.

Add the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and give it another quick stir to mix together. Add the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, peas, and tomatoes, and cook covered for another 5 minutes until the peas are cooked through. Add the cilantro, and give the mixture another stir. Mash the potatoes slightly, if desired, and enjoy with rice!

The Crippes family chicken cacciatore (sorta)

My Grandma Crippes would have been 84 on Monday, so to honor her memory I made one of her lovely recipes. And then, because I’m a terrible grandchild, I tweaked it a whole bunch and made it in a Dutch oven.

I’ve made her chicken cacciatore recipe several times before but it’s always been as a casserole.

Chicken cacciatore ingredients.

And, to be honest, I’ve always made a bastardized version based on my mom’s version of Grandma’s recipe. My mom tells me the recipe originally included mushrooms but no one in my immediate family liked them growing up so they got scrapped in my mom’s making.

This time I made even more changes, and probably should have made even more. But I kept the heart of the recipe in tact, which is tomato sauce, marinated artichoke hearts, and sauteed chicken. Aside from removing the mushrooms, I added onions and extra artichokes.

The change I should have made for the Dutch oven is to tweak the sauteed chicken by either not dredging it in flour or cooking it in canola oil rather than olive. What happened was a nice blackened layer of flour-y oil coated the bottom of my Dutch oven when I made it this way. Hotter oil or no flour would have fixed that.

Fortunately, it was still fine. The burnt layer was still there after it came out of the oven but didn’t impact the flavor any — just made the house smokier for a bit.

I do like this Dutch oven method, though, because it was a one pot meal. I even made the angel hair pasta in it first while I did the other prep work. I didn’t combine it all at the end because that is not how it’s been served in my family, but it’s possible … though I’d add less than the full 1 pound mentioned below.

*drools for eternity*

Anyway, here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 (14.5 oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 ½ to 2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts, cut into ½ inch chunks
  • 1 c. flour, for dredging (optional)
  • Oil, for sauteing
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
  • ¾ c. Chardonnay (or dry sherry)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used more)
  • Basil, chopped or torn, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Parsley, chopped to taste
  • 1 lb. pasta, cooked according to package instructions, for serving

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the Dutch oven on the stove top over medium heat. Drain the marinade from the artichoke hearts into the skillet, and add oil. Dredge chicken chunks in flour, if using, and brown until golden. Do this in a couple batches, depending on the size of your Dutch oven.

Remove the chicken from the Dutch oven to a plate.

Meanwhile, add more oil as necessary and saute the onion, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, artichoke hearts, crushed tomatoes, wine, and the spices to the Dutch oven. Cook until boiling, stirring occasionally.

Add back in the chicken, and stir to mix.

Cover the Dutch oven, and bake in the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes until bubbling and flavors are mixed. Let cool slightly, serve over cooked pasta (preferably spaghetti or angel hair), and enjoy!

Start St. Pat’s right with beef stew

I admit if I really wanted to do St. Patrick’s Day right I would have made corned beef and cabbage, but beef stew sounded better.

Guinness beef stew ingredients.

I found an ideally titled recipe for Guinness beef stew and thought this would be the perfect time to make it. Then, I looked at the recipe and found its ingredients, aside from the Guinness, to not really be my tastes.

So, I started looking for what would be my tastes and found that I didn’t see a single beef stew recipe that looked up my alley. Then, I just decided to make my own recipe.

The ingredients were all the things I thought would be in my ideal beef stew and then just added Guinness to that.

Mercifully, it worked perfectly. Well, again, to my tastes.

My only mistake was a tad too many potatoes. I wanted to clip up the three large russets we had and uh, that made for a pretty potato-y stew. But there are worse things.

It was time consuming, but that was expected. And it’s not very difficult or active time so that’s OK too. All in all, it’s just a good weekend dish.

Beer and beef, what could be better?!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. beef chunks
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 T. oil
  • 3 small to medium onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 can or ½ pint diced tomatoes
  • 1 c. flour
  • 20 oz Guinness
  • 4 c. broth (any will do)
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 4 celery, chopped
  • 1 ½ c. frozen peas
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 t. dried oregano
  • Parsley, chopped

Directions

Heat Dutch oven over medium heat and add 1 to 2 T. oil. Brown beef chunks 5 to 10 minutes, adding salt and pepper as you stir. Add onions and cook another 5 minutes. Add garlic and tomatoes and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.

Add flour and stir it in until mixed 1 to 2 minutes more.

Slowly add Guinness and broth, and cook until boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and cook on the stove top for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 325 degrees.

After about 45 minutes, add parsnips, potatoes, carrots, and celery to the Dutch oven. Cover again and cook in the oven for an hour and a half or so.

Add Worcestershire sauce, oregano, parsley, and peas. Cook in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and enjoy!

Fun times on Fish Fry-day

Lent has begun. Like many lapsed Catholics, I still generally keep track of the beginning of the Lenten season and its many holy days even though I no longer follow those traditions.

Still, this felt like as good a time as any to have a fish fry for those who do go without meat on Fridays during Lent. And anyway, I love fish and chips.

Fish fry ingredients.

I’ve generally avoided making it, though, as I’m bad at deep frying since I so rarely do it, and because I’ve not had good luck at finding a good batter. I’d like to tell you that my attempt this week went off without any hitches and I’ll now be doing Fish Fry-days every week, but dear readers, that was not the case.

The nadir was when I spilled hot oil on my shirt (but avoided burning myself badly!) and dropped a fish fillet on the floor. The peak was high, though. The beer batter was divine, my choice to use Alaskan pollock was a good one, and the fish fry was ultimately a delicious success.

Aside from being generally clumsy, I also, uh, tried to do too much, trying a baked fish recipe and a fried fish one on the same night, each with their own side. And doing all this mid-week after a couple of busy, hectic weeks.

But I’m not giving up.

After all, maybe it just was not my week to try new things (she writes as she just spent an hour and a half walking because she still doesn’t know her way around campus).

Fish Fry-day!!!

Here’s what I did, following a Serious Eats recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. cornstarch
  • 1 (12 oz) can beer (ale or lager, I used Hamm’s because I’m classy)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 to 1 ½ lbs. skinless white fish fillets (like cod, haddock, or pollock)
  • Pepper, to taste
  • About 6 c. canola oil for frying
  • Malt vinegar, for serving (optional)

Directions

Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, beer, egg, and salt in in a medium bowl, and stir until there are no lumps. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to 3 hours.

Begin to heat the oil in a large Dutch oven to bring temperature to 375 degrees over medium heat.

Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season with pepper, and any additional salt as desired.

Once the batter is ready, drop each fillet into the batter bowl. Once temperature of oil reaches 375 degrees, pick up a fillet with a pair of tongs and carefully place in the hot oil (the recipe recommends holding it in the oil for a few seconds but with my coated Dutch oven, nothing stuck if I didn’t hold it), and repeat with as many fillets will fit without overcrowding.

Cook for about 5 minutes until golden, turning as necessary and adjusting heat as necessary, and then use tongs to remove to paper towels to drain. Repeat the process with remaining fillets as necessary until all are cooked.

Serve with malt vinegar and chips, as desired, and enjoy!

Poland, pickles, perfection

Monday marks my favorite holiday, Casimir Pulaski Day. Growing up in Illinois, we had two unique school holidays, and this was one of them thanks to a large Polish population. The other, of course in the Land of Lincoln, was that we celebrated Lincoln’s birthday specifically not Presidents Day generally.

I have written in the past about how awesome Pulaski was (while making Polish foods) and how he warrants recognition for his role in the Revolutionary War.

Especially in these times, it’s important to remember and recognize that immigrants were playing a role in this country going back to literally its founding.

If you want a refresher about the “Father of the American Cavalry,” check out his Wikipedia page.

To celebrate the man, his contributions, and my own (one-quarter) Polish heritage, I try to find something to make from his home country each Pulaski Day. This year was no exception, and I’m rather proud of this one.

A unique Polish pickle soup to recognize a unique Polish man.

Polish pickle soup (aka zupa ogórkowa) ingredients.

There were several recipes online for zupa ogórkowa, which actually seems to translate as cucumber soup but most called it either sour cucumber or simply pickle soup. None of the recipes perfectly suited what I was picturing so I melded them all together.

I won’t lie, this soup will not be for everyone. But if you like dill pickles, and me and my sweetie do, boy is it great. It also all comes together relatively quickly.

For my tastes and sensibilities, it’s an awesome winter soup, featuring heavily those ingredients that in times past (and in lean times now) that keep well throughout a long winter and are easy enough to come by. We, in fact, had most ingredients on hand except not quite enough of them. And I did get fresh dill but the dried stuff would do just fine.

The results were pure perfection, particularly for this time of year and this holiday.

What lies beneath is an abundance of pickle flavored perfection.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 4 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2-3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 4 T. all-purpose flour
  • 6 c. broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 2 t. dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, chopped
  • 1 c. pickle juice
  • 1 c. dill pickles, grated
  • Dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sour cream, for serving (optional)

Directions

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and saute for 5 to 10 minutes and vegetables are softened.

Add the flour slowly and stir until combined. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the thyme, oregano, and bay leaves. Then, stir in the broth.

Bring mixture to a boil, and then add the potatoes. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 to 25 minutes until the potatoes are just softened.

Add the pickle juice, pickles, salt and pepper to taste, and cook another 5 minutes, covered.

Stir in the dill, and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Serve with sour cream and any additional dill as desired, and enjoy!

Get full ahead of Fat Tuesday

Lent is coming. If you practice that sort of thing.

I don’t, but at this time of year, this relapsed Catholic still can’t help but think of the many holidays and sacrifices (that I’m not making) ahead. But mostly, I think of the Mardi Gras celebrations to come in New Orleans.

Then, I think of the the cajun food that I can enjoy.

Most years, when it’s still cold and miserable in Iowa, I make a hearty gumbo. But I wanted to try something different this year. So, I asked Mom for her popular jambalaya recipe.

Jambalaya ingredients

I can see why it’s so beloved amongst her friend group — it is literally full to the brim with meats and flavors. But like with the cassoulet I made earlier this year, I could not rationalize eating 6 pounds of meat, so I cut some back from her recipe (that seems to come from the USA Cookbook).

The ingredients I used were the same, but my amounts varied quite a bit, except in the rice to broth amounts so I could ensure I didn’t end up with jambalaya soup or dried rice.

It worked out perfectly, even though I made it on a weeknight. There was relatively little swearing, and I’m looking forward to the leftovers as it was still filled to the brim.

Hopefully, the Dutch oven will be empty before Fat Tuesday, which is March 5 this year. (Note: This is a joke. I would not keep food around that long.)

Brimful of jambalaya in the Dutch oven. Nom noms.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • ½ c. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. andouille sausage, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used more)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (I used one red and one green)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 t. dried basil (I used more)
  • ¼ t. cayenne (ha, I used way more, try 2 t.)
  • 2 c. long grain rice
  • 4 ½ c. chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 (14 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ¾ c. chopped fresh parsley, preferably flat-leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Use slotted spoon to remove and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate or bowl. Add the chicken pieces, and cook until just cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove and transfer to the same plate or bowl as the sausage.

Add the onions to the to the Dutch oven, and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add in the garlic, celery, bell peppers, bay leaves, cayenne, and basil. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the (uncooked rice) and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and add back in the meat. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and then cook covered for about 20 to 25 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Add in the shrimp, and parsley, and cook, covered, for another 5 or so minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through. Adjust the seasons, as necessary, and enjoy!

One more one-pot pasta dish

Wine and pasta are such a perfect pairing that it’s worth doing twice.

We’re replacing white with red, sticking with spaghetti, and focusing on red meat. That’s right, it’s time for spaghetti bolognese.

Spaghetti bolognese ingredients (except I really used my own broth instead of bouillon).

I adapted a recipe from “Cook It In Your Dutch Oven,” though — like the scampi — most recipes I found were pretty similar. What I liked about this one is that it added additional vegetables than just tomatoes; what I didn’t like is that it had the vegetable puree mostly replace tomatoes. Call me traditional but it’s not bolognese without an abundance of tomatoes.

So, instead of pureeing, I just diced the vegetables, cooked them longer, and had a chunkier sauce. Because of that, I also decided to use crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce so it was all chunky. I kept in the 3 T. of tomato paste too but I’m not sure it’s necessary. I just needed it for another recipe anyway so I kept it in.

I also used all broth instead of a mixture of water and broth, and replaced beef with buffalo.

I think all the changes worked. It made a hearty, heavy meal feel healthier, and all tasted great. My only small complaint is that this supposed weeknight meal took longer with cutting all the vegetables (rather than pureeing), and also isn’t *that* short even without it. Still worth it, though, and made for days of yummy leftovers.

Nom nom nom.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground buffalo, or any ground meat
  • 6 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 (14 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 T. tomato paste, optional
  • 1 c. dry red wine
  • 5 c. broth (I used homemade chicken vegetable broth but any will do)
  • ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (I used more)
  • 1 lb. spaghetti, uncooked
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat butter and oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and the onion, carrot, and celery. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened.

Add the ground meat and tomato paste, if using, and cook until the meat is just cooked through, about another 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the diced tomatoes and the wine, and cook for about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid total by about half, stirring occasionally. Add broth and Parmesan, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook the sauce mixture for 20 minutes to let the flavors combine.

Increase the heat, and bring the sauce to a boil. Gently add in the pasta, and return to a simmer. Cook covered or partially covered — depending on how thick you like your sauce — for another 10 to 15 minutes until the pasta is cooked to desired tendency. Add more broth if necessary. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve and add extra Parmesan, if desired, and enjoy!

Sumptuous shrimp scampi to share with your sweetheart

I have a thing about Valentine’s Day, and well, really, most dates in general: I don’t like them. I don’t like to dress up; I don’t like the fancy-pants restaurants you’re *supposed* to go to for special occasions; and mostly, I don’t like the pressure to have a romantic evening.

If they’re your thing, more power to you; make the reservations, and have a good time.

I was lucky, then, to find a partner who feels the same way I do. A restaurant that requires us to feel like we don’t belong is not a restaurant we’re going to, no matter the rave reviews. Advance planning, likewise, isn’t really our thing.

Instead, I usually try to find something special but simple to make for dinner — and yet, I also don’t feel pressured to do so, if I feel lazy or if take-out beckons. In past years, I’ve celebrated the holiday with peanut stew. This year, I found something even simpler and yet also fancier: shrimp scampi.

Shrimp scampi ingredients. They didn’t all fit but they would have if I didn’t buy large quantities of wine and olive oil.

I’d never made it before, and honestly, hadn’t gotten it in restaurants because it’s usually too pricey to justify what it is. But after tasting it, I can see why it’s a go-to fancy dinner order. It’s damn delicious.

It’s also still too easy to make at home to justify the upcharge for having it made for me. There’s few ingredients, and it’s even a one-pot meal. In all, it’s about a half-hour of work. It’s the perfect stay-at-home dinner date whether you have a special Valentine or not.

SHRAMMPIES!!!!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. angel hair pasta or similar (I used spaghetti because I wanted whole wheat and I couldn’t find it in angel hair)
  • 1 ½ lb. peeled and deveined uncooked shrimp
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • ½ c. dry white wine (and, let’s be honest, more to serve in a glass on the side)
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ¼ t. red pepper flakes (I used more but we like a little more kick to our food)
  • 3 T. unsalted butter, cold and cut into smallish cubes
  • ¼ c. coarsely chopped parsley, flat-leaf preferred
  • Juice from ½ lemon

Directions

Bring water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add the pasta, cooking to al dente according to package instructions (between 7 and 12 minutes, depending on pasta type). Reserve ½ c. of cooking water, and then drain the pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, pat the shrimp dry and season both sides with salt and pepper, to taste. In the same large Dutch oven where you cooked your pasta, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 minute. Flip, and then add the wine, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the shrimp are just opaque and the wine has reduced by half, about 2 to 3 more minutes.

Remove the Dutch oven from heat, add the butter cubes, and stir until melted. Add the pasta, parsley, and lemon juice. Toss until combined, adding reserved pasta water by the tablespoon, until a sauce forms that coats the pasta. (Don’t worry if you don’t use all the water.) Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Putting the pot in pot pie

When I knew I was doing Dutch ovens, I knew that I needed to buy a Dutch oven cookbook for guidance and ideas throughout the year. But I found it was real easy to come up with the first few things I needed to try so I put it off.

Finally, though, I went ahead and got “Cook It In Your Dutch Oven” from America’s Test Kitchen. I patted myself on the back for how many of their ideas were things that I’m planning to make this year already, but my jaw dropped (not literally) when I came across the pot pie recipe.

This pie lady never thought of making a pot pie as a not-quite-pie, but definitely all pot.

Chicken pot pie ingredients.

The recipe was for spring vegetables, but I damn well know what goes in a pot pie and I know it’s wintery AF.

And bad mistakes, I made a few.

First of all, the lattice top crust that makes up the top (spoiler: there’s no crusty bottom) is with puff pastry and I am so bad at dealing with puff pastry. I muddled through but it was frustrating.

Second of all, the recipe called for chicken thighs. I got a mix — 1 lb. each of chicken breast and chicken thighs — but I didn’t realize that trimming raw chicken thighs is frustrating and nearly impossible. I should have known by now, but I mostly work with breasts, or thighs that are cut after cooked.

Third of all, seasons. The substitutions I made worked real well for a winter pot pie, but it didn’t occur to me until too late that some of the ingredients made more sense in a spring recipe rather than winter, and I should have probably scrapped them. They are the optional ingredients below — tomato paste and lemon zest (the original also calls for some lemon juice from about half a lemon). I think they’d work better in a real spring recipe (with asparagus instead of potatoes, and tarragon instead of parsley)  than this one, though they didn’t manage to ruin the whole thing.

What I’m saying is, despite my mistakes, and despite the modest frustration, it was still good. Because pot pies are good. And errors can be corrected so that pot pies are even better.

I’ll probably never love working with puff pastry, but honestly, a good hearty (or even spring!) pot pie is worth it.

It sure looks pretty, but it also tastes pretty great.

Here’s what I did (with recommendations for what I should have done):

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 6 T. butter
  • 1 lb. (about 4) leeks, white and light green parts, sliced
  • 4 carrots, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 lb. potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (I used the jarred stuff)
  • ½ c. flour
  • 1 T. tomato paste (optional)
  • 3 c. chicken broth, more as needed
  • ½ c. heavy cream
  • 1 t. soy sauce (we were out so I used Bragg liquid aminos)
  • 2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (or thighs if you’re a masochist)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 T. dried parsley flakes or chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 T. lemon zest (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Cut a sheet of parchment paper to match the outline of a Dutch oven lid. Set aside. Roll puff pastry sheet into about a 15- by 11-inch rectangle, and then cut (a pizza cutter works great) into 10 1 ½-inch wide strips. Place 5 strips parallel and 5 strips perpendicular on the parchment paper round you created.

There are fancy techniques to do this more efficiently, but weave the 10 strips into a lattice top into whatever is easiest for you. Cut the strips to fit onto the parchment paper round.

Move your lattice top puff pastry using the parchment paper to the up-turned lid of the Dutch oven, and refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the pot pie.

Move oven rack to the lower middle position in the oven, and heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, melt the butter on the stove top over medium heat.

Add the leeks, carrots, celery, and potatoes, and cook until the leeks are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another minute. Then, add in the flour, slowly, and stir for another minute. Add the tomato paste, if using.

Then, stir in the broth, scraping up browned bits as necessary. Add the cream, and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the chicken pieces, and continue to simmer for a couple minutes before removing from heat.

Put the the up-turned lid with the puff pastry on top of the Dutch oven (still up-turned and do so carefully!), and brush it with the egg mixture (I also added a tablespoon or so of water). Sprinkle with salt, if desired.

Transfer the pot to oven and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until the puff pastry is puffed and golden, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove pot from oven and carefully transfer the parchment and pastry to a wire rack and remove lid. Stir in the peas, and let sit until heated through about 5 minutes. Add more broth if necessary. Add the parsley flakes and lemon zest, if using, and stir in salt and pepper to taste. Plop (carefully!) the puff pastry on top of the filling, and enjoy!