Post 267

Cutting it Close: A Recipe for October

Having said I’d give you a recipe per month, I can’t let this month end without providing you with one for October. This month has about two hours left in it, where I am. Most of the world is already in November.

This recipe is one of those that has a recipe inside a recipe, but sometimes cooking involves, well, cooking.

So I’ll provide both recipes that I use. Make the first recipe, and then when you read the ingredient list for the main recipe, you’ll say to yourself with satisfaction, “I have that so covered.”

When I make chicken pot pie, the crust that I use is this one from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. In the margin, I have written, “Took me 17 1/2 minutes to get it into fridge.” How me, to write such a thing. I think I wrote it because I was getting lies that it would take me forever, and by actually timing myself and recording my time, I wouldn’t feel like making the crust was an insurmountable obstacle. But anyway, now it will be of service to you. Set your timer and see if you can smoke my time.

All-Butter Double-Crust Pie Dough

MAKES enough for one 9-inch pie

Freezing the butter for 10 to 15 minutes is crucial to the flaky texture of this crust. If preparing the dough in a very warm kitchen, refrigerate all of the ingredients before making the dough. If you don’t have a food processor, see Hand Mixing Pie Dough on page 360.

1/3 cup ice water, plus extra as needed
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and frozen for 10 to 15 minutes

1. Mix 1/3 cup of the ice water and sour cream together in a small bowl until combined. Process the flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor until combined. Following the photos, scatter the butter pieces over the top and pulse the mixture until the butter is the size of large peas, about 10 pulses.

2. Pour half of the sour cream mixture over the flour mixture and pulse until incorporated, about 3 pulses. Repeat with the remaining sour cream mixture. Pinch the dough with your fingers; if the dough feels dry and does not hold together, sprinkle 1 or 2 tablespoons more ice water over the mixture and pulse until the dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, 3 to 5 pulses.

3. Divide the dough into 2 even pieces. Turn each piece of dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Before rolling the dough out, let it sit on the counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes.

Chicken Pot Pie
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

SERVES 6 to 8
PREP TIME: 10 minutes plus time to make pie dough
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 10 minutes

If using a pie dough topping, be sure to make it first and allow the dough to chill while making the filling. If making a biscuit topping, mix and shape the biscuits after making the filling and just before baking the casserole. The filling must be hot when you top it or the pastry or biscuits will be gummy. For individual pot pies, instead of pouring the filling into a casserole, pour it into heatproof bowls or ramekins and top each with a single portion of pie dough or biscuits.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 ribs celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry sherry [I usually skip this, just because it’s not available at the grocery store]
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth [I use regular, not low-sodium]
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 bay leaves
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 recipe Double-Crust Pie Dough (page 593) or Cream Biscuits dough (page 515)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven [that’s just a pot with stubby handles on each side] over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 7 minutes.

2. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the flour. Slowly whisk in the sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the broth, cream and bay leaves. Simmer until the mixture is thickened, about 10 minutes.

3. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Stir the chicken into the sauce and continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

4. Discard the bay leaves and stir in the peas and parsley. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

5. If using the pie dough, roll it out into a 11 by 15-inch rectangle, then drape it over the dish and trim, following the photos on page 357. If using the biscuit dough, cut the dough into eight 3-inch-wide biscuits and lay over the filling, following the photo on page 357.

6. Bake until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Now there are 90 minutes left in October 2017. Two months left in 2017. Then there will be two years left in the teens of 2000.

2020. Does that seem like a long way off? Where will you be then? Where will you be on, say, November 2, 2020, the feast of All Souls’ Day?

Tomorrow is All Saints’ Day — for me, anyway. In your part of the world, it has already begun.