Greetings and Salutations!
I haven’t served dinner recently because I was in Las Vegas last week. I will expound on the Vegas trip in my next post, but I will tell you this: it is a good thing that I made #57 and used my last whole chicken before I left for Sin City. Why? Because I am a total pillowcase and accidentally unplugged my auxiliary freezer in an attempt to conserve electricity and make sure that the building didn’t burn down while I was out of state. Long story short–at 2AM on Friday I arrived home to an apartment full of reek and rotten meat. I lost so much meat! (I have been pretty upfront about my hoarding of chicken, haven’t I?). It was very upsetting on so many levels. Barf. At least the smell didn’t infiltrate the common areas and remained contained to our unit.
Gosh, that makes me think of when I was living alone. In the back of my head I always had the fear of dying in my apartment and that no one would know until the stench wafted into the hallways. How long does that take? Would the cat have eaten off half my face by then (thank you Miranda Hobbs)? Or would I have be eaten by wild dogs (thank you Bridget Jones)? Anyway, I would like to thank Cleveland for cohabitating with me. If for no other reason than just because someone would find my dead body in a relatively short amount of time.
Anyhoo, it’s time for #57 Chicken Pot Pie.
I hear the words ‘pot pie’ and my mind automatically goes here (and I’m sure I’m not the only one):
And yes, as I was enjoying some reheated #57 while seated in front of my TV tray and watching Jem and the Holograms, Brian the cat stood up on his back legs and tried to get his lil’ pink nose in my leftovers. I shit you not I actually said, “No, kitty! This is my pot pie!”
But to get to the point when Brian was trying to sample the Chicken Pot Pie, I had to make it in the first place. So, please, join me and let’s take a trip in the way-back machine to 2 Sundays ago when I spent approximately six hours preparing #57. Yep, six hours.
I must have started before 4pm because it was at 4pm that I had the chicken into the pot and simmering with the celery and carrots and onion and spices. I used a whole 4.5 chicken and cut it down myself. By the way, this was much easier than I had estimated. I took the skin off of the entire chicken (with the exception of the wings, which I couldn’t get the skin off of and I didn’t use anyway) and cut it into 2 breasts and 2 thigh/leg pieces. I did this in the hopes that the end product would be a little less fatty.
Oh, and file this under the category “Waste Not Want Not:” I simmered the giblets in a tiny bit of water and served them to the cat. Needless to say, Brian ate them all.
So I don’t know– I guesstimate that I actually started cooking around 3:30pm, give or take a few minutes. Yeah, let’s say 3:30. So at 4pm the chicken was in the pot with the vegetables and was set to boil for 1.5-2 hours.
At 4pm I began the dessert. I decided to change it up because, although I did buy a can of cranberry sauce, I had a bunch of delicious fresh black cherries in the fridge and I didn’t want them to go bad–so why not make a seasonal dessert? So I pitted a bunch of cherries and layered them between spoonfuls of fat-free vanilla pudding (healthy, no?). At the same time I made lunch-portions of the pudding but with fresh raspberries and blackberries (they were on sale at Safeway).
At 4:40pm I made the Curry Waldorf Salad. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Waldorf salad so I don’t know how different this was from a regular Waldorf. I made it as directed except that I used about half as much mayo and I used 2 apples instead of 1. Half a cup was enough to saturate the ingredients and I added the extra apple because the curry was very strong and the extra apple helped balance that. I added a small amount (probably about a 1/8 cup) of red onion, too. At this point I still wasn’t sold on the Waldorf, although I was a fan of the texture–the apples and the pecans together were crunchy and soft all at the same time. However, I am sold on the word ‘Waldorf.’ Say it a few times in a row. Dorf.
At about 5pm I chopped up a green pepper and took the frozen corn kernels, carrots, and peas out of the freezer to defrost. And then I peeled the pearl onions. I used the same method that I used in Pot Roast in Foil–that is, I put the whole onions in boiling water for about 2 minutes, rinsed them, cut off the root ends, and then squeezed the whole onions out of their skins. So simple (and kinda fun).
By 5:45pm the onions were skinned and in the fridge. So at this point I had already been cooking for over 2 hours. And sweating profusely. Damn you, heat wave!
6pm I strained the broth and cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks. I tried to skim the fat off of the broth, but I wasn’t successful so I set it on the counter in front of the AC unit. I would’ve put it in the fridge, but I didn’t have room for a hot pot in there.
6:25pm The fat still hadn’t started to separate so I took the broth out of the pot and put it in a smaller plastic container in the fridge to chill. I had also already put the peas, carrots, and chicken together in the casserole dish.
6:27pm As I was waiting for the fat to coagulate (gross), I thought that it was a good time to do all of the kitchen stuff already in the sink.
7pm I was still waiting for the fat to float and gel.
7:20pm I finished the dough (I used Bisquick) and it just sat in a ball in a bowl on the counter waiting to be rolled out and top the casserole. How much time did I have left? What should I do? I just put the fat in the goddamned freezer.
7:50pm In the interim I cleaned the bathroom. It was about here that I stopped taking notes on what was happened when. I do know that somewhere between 7:50pm and 9:03pm that the fat did congeal enough that I was able to separate the fat from the broth and make the sauce (fat roux and all!). I rolled the dough, topped the pie, got it in the oven and nuked the corn and peppers.
9:28pm After 25 minutes in the oven, TA-DA! DINNER IS SERVED!!!!
Six whole damn hours. This whole process was labor intensive but oh. my. god. #57 resulted in what might be the best chicken broth that I’ve ever had. And I know why–it was the clove-studded onion. I never would’ve thought of doing such a thing but it resulted in a chicken broth that was outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous. Oh, I’m also sure that the fat helped make it so yummy–I’m so used to the canned fat-free stuff. I froze the remaining broth in an ice cube tray and I hope to make a simple chicken soup with it. Maybe when this heat wave finally breaks.
The pot pie itself was quite good; although if I were to make this in the future I would make more of the sauce. The filling to sauce to crust ratio was a little off. I would’ve liked the center to have had more gravy. Or less of the filling. Either or.
The corn and peppers were just that–corn and peppers. Nothing groundbreaking. And although I didn’t particularly like the Curry Waldorf Salad the day it was made, as it sat in the fridge it got better and better and one day for lunch I had an absolutely delightful Curry Waldorf wrap.
The dessert was simple and tasted just as you’d imagine. Pudding and cherries. I’m glad that I got to used the fresh cherries.
The only downside to #57 is that the few portions that I froze to save for later were casualties of the Las Vegas Meltdown of 2011. It was really a shame. Especially the next day and had not yet gone to the grocery store. Yeah, a microwaved portion of #57 would’ve been a little slice of heaven. Brian would agree.