This weekend has been all about nourishing my soul. Chilled to the bone, exhausted from a marathon of teaching and desperate to unwind, I dove into cooking the way some might dive into Supta Baddha Konasana. The choice of what to make was simple: it was, without a doubt, a chicken pot pie kind of weekend. The ultimate comfort food, I found solace in puffed pastry and the krama (step-by-step) of making this classic dish. It's beyond divine and will make you warm and fuzzy all over.
3 yukon gold potatoes (or a bag of the small, bite-sized potatoes)
puffed pastry (I love Dufour, which you can find at Whole Foods)
Defrost the puffed pastry at room temperature for an hour or two. You can cut the pastry to cover individual ovenproof bowls, or you can use the entire sheet to top a baking dish. Flour your working surface and your rolling pin and roll out the pastry so it's large enough to hang over the sides and stick to your serving piece. (Note: If the pastry feels gooey or starts to stick despite the flour, don't panic. It just needs to chill in the refrigerator for a little bit.) Brush off any excess flour and set aside the pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Prepare an egg wash (whisk one egg and a splash of milk). Chill the the pastry and egg wash in the refrigerator while you're cooking the filling.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the whole chicken. It'll take about 20-30 minutes to cook. In the meantime, sauté the chopped onion in 5 T of butter for approximately 10 minutes. Add your cut potatoes and carrots (as many carrots as you'd like) and cook between 10-15 minutes. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of cognac (the smell will make your soul sing). 5 T of flour will coat your vegetables and thicken the sauce. Add 2 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of milk. Bring to a boil.
At this point your chicken should be cooked. Carefully remove it from the water and let it cool enough so you can pull it apart into big, hearty pieces. Add the chicken to the pot of boiling goodness. Lower the heat to a simmer and add thyme, salt and pepper to taste.
The last step requires efficiency and speed, so know what you're getting yourself into before you start. Pour the filling into your chosen serving piece, right up to the edge (so your pastry will have something to rest on). Using a brush (or your finger), paint a 1-inch layer of egg wash (your glue) onto the perimeter of your pastry. Cut a hole in the center to allow the steam to escape. You have to work quickly because the pastry needs to be cold in order to puff. This is not the time to check your email; practice restraint. Cover the bowls or baking dish with the pastry, using your fingers to adhere it to the sides. Brush the top with the remaining egg wash and pop it into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it's puffed and golden brown.
Recipe inspired by Martha Stewart.