There was a time when cooking with Caleb and Sadie was, simply put, delicious. Caleb would climb up on the chair I had placed by the stove and assist me by stirring something good to eat. I would kiss him on the head and commend him, in exchange for a sweet look of contentment and satisfaction. After entertaining us with a pots n’ pans drum solo, Sadie would run up to my legs – sometimes dressed, sometimes not – asking what she could do to help. What the hell happened!?
It’s been quite some time since we’ve taken on a Cooking with Caleb (and Sadie!) worthy project, conducting a Jackson Pollock-esque food experiment in our kitchen. Batter splattered walls, tables, face, and hair. My definition of fun on a foggy day.
Missing these shared adventures, I made a cooking date with the kiddos on Monday. I presented them with two recipes which were well received: Cherry Clafoutis and Chicken Pot Pie. I then set the stage for a fairly seamless cooking adventure, anticipating delicious bonding over time together in the kitchen. Insert record scratch [here]. Before long, bad attitudes came out to play (including my own), battles over equity erupted, time-outs were being assigned, and my patience was tested to its limits. After a few temperament re-sets (including my own), we finally hit our stride about half-way through the project and our experience went uphill from there.
I can’t pretend that this was an idyllic experiment. Caleb and Sadie were playing out their sibling rivalry, afternoon blood-sugar dips, and various other issues on the kitchen stage. How could I expect otherwise? Fortunately, we came away unscathed with two boast-worthy dishes, which we enjoyed peacefully together around the family table.
Gone are the days of All-Clad drum solos, little hands pulling on my apron strings, and pint-sized assistant chefs, but we continue on a journey of discovery together in new and changing forms, just as Caleb and Sadie are growing and changing. Comfort me with comfort food and two amazing children. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Chicken Pot Pie | Cooks Illustrated
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 8 tablespoons butter (1/4 pound), chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
Chicken Pot Pie
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 can low-sodium chicken broth, with water added to equal 2 cups (or use 2 cups homemade chicken broth)
- 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped fine
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise 1/4-inch thick
- 2 small ribs celery, cut crosswise 1/4-inch thick
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups milk
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons dry sherry
- ¾ cup frozen peas, thawed
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
For Pie Dough:
- Mix flour and salt in work bowl of food processor fitted with the steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with a little of the flour. Cut butter into flour with five one-second pulses. Add shortening; continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, keeping some butter bits the size of small peas, about four more one-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.
- Sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice-cold water over the mixture. Using rubber spatula, fold water into flour mixture. Then press down on dough mixture with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more cold water if dough will not come together. Shape dough into ball, then flatten into 4-inch-wide disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes while preparing pie filling.
For Pie Filling:
- Adjust oven rack to low-center position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Put chicken and broth in small Dutch oven or soup kettle over medium heat. Cover, bring to simmer; simmer until chicken is just done, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer meat to large bowl, reserving broth in measuring cup.
- Increase heat to medium-high; heat oil in now-empty pan. Add onions, carrots, and celery; sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. While vegetables are sautéing, shred meat into bite-sized pieces. Transfer cooked vegetables to bowl with chicken; set aside.
- Heat butter over medium heat in again-empty skillet. When foaming subsides, add flour; cook about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken broth, milk, any accumulated chicken juices, and thyme. Bring to simmer, then continue to simmer until sauce fully thickens, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper; stir in sherry.
- Pour sauce over chicken mixture; stir to combine. Stir in peas and parsley. Adjust seasonings. (Can be covered and refrigerated overnight; reheat before topping with pastry.)
- Roll dough on floured surface to approximate 15-by-11-inch rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick. If making individual pies, roll dough 1/8-inch thick and cut 6 dough rounds about 1 inch larger than pan circumference.
- Pour chicken mixture into 13-by-9-inch pan or any shallow baking dish of similar size. Lay dough over pot pie filling, trimming dough to 1/2 inch of pan lip. Tuck overhanging dough back under itself so folded edge is flush with lip. Flute edges all around. Or don’t trim dough and simply tuck overhanging dough into pan side. Cut at least four 1-inch vent holes in large pot pie or one 1-inch vent hole in smaller pies.
- Bake until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly, 30 minutes for large pies and 20 to 25 minutes for smaller pies. Serve hot.