Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chick'n Pot Pie

In case you haven't noticed, I'm really into comfort food. Lots of people think vegan food has to be strictly spare and healthy with weird, unfamiliar ingredients and that it has to take forever to make. If this recipe doesn't disprove that, I don't know what will. It has all the classic, familiar elements of pot pie: veggies in a thick, brothy sauce, tender chick'n and, of course, a warm, buttery crust. Comfort food in a bowl. Actually, if you look closely enough, you'll see that the bowl actually says "comfort food," like it was daring me to make this.

This recipe uses Gardein's Chick'n Scallopini, which can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores (look here for a location near you). I use this chicken substitute for all sorts of things and it's been great in all of them. This pot pie, in particular, has fooled a lot of people into thinking it was chicken. If you're thinking I've heard that before, trust me. It looks, feels and tastes like chicken. It may not seem like much before you cook it, but the results will surprise you.


2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup of Earth Balance stick butter (they also make shortening in sticks if you want something a bit flakier)
8 tbsp ice water

2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 large sweet onion, diced medium
5 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves
6 tbsp unbleached flour
3 cups veggie broth (boxed broth is fine, but I always use Better Than Boullion and make my own broth. It has tons more flavor.)
1 10-12 oz bag of frozen peas and carrots
1 package of Gardein Chick'n Scallopini, defrosted and cubed
salt and pepper to taste

Make the dough: Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter or shortening up into tiny cubes and throw it into the flour. You can use just about anything to cut it in. I use a pastry cutter, but in a pinch you can use two butter knives and cut them up that way. You can also do all this in a food processor and make it really quick. Whatever you do, cut the butter/shortening down to small, pea-sized pieces. Mix in the ice water and stir it up into a ball of dough (start with 6 tablespoons and work your way up). At this point you can roll it out in one big crust or a few small crusts, depending on how you're cooking this. Put it in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge until it's needed.

Preheat your oven to 420 degrees.

If you're using the Better Than Boullion broth base, go ahead and get the water boiling. The ratio with this stuff is 1 tsp of base for every cup of water. Once the water starts boiling, turn the heat off and mix in the base, put the lid on and set aside.

Make the filling: In a large pot, heat the oil over high heat, then toss in the onion and celery and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Add the flour and stir it around, making sure to coat your veggies in it well. Cook it for a couple of minutes until it starts to brown a little. It should soak up all the liquids and look very dry.

Add the broth a little at a time and stir it around, scraping up the bits on the sides and bottom of the pan and making sure there's no dry flour anywhere. let it come to a boil and then turn it down a bit. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes and it'll thicken right up. 

Once it's thickened, stir in the peas and carrots and cubed chick'n. Toss in a little salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a couple of minutes to thaw out the veggies. Once things look good, turn off the heat and cover.

Now fill up your baking dish(es). I usually make this in big, bowl-sized ramekins, but you can make it in a square 8 x 8 1/2" baking dish if you're taking it to a potluck or a party. You want to leave at least a quarter inch of space between the top of the filling and the top of the dish.

Take your dough out of the fridge and unwrap it. Using one vertical and one horizontal cut, separate the ball of dough into four equal wedges. Using a rolling pin, roll each wedge out into a disk a little wider than the ramekin. If you go too wide, simply cut the excess off with a knife (I use a ravioli cutter to give a pie-like jagged edge to it).

Put it on top and roll up and crimp the edges so it fits inside the rim of the dish. Using a small, sharp knife, cut out some vent holes for the steam to escape. 

Put the ramekins on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake in the oven until the tops are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Once they're out of the oven, let them sit for about five minutes before serving.

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