I was in the mood for comfort food this week, and as usually is the case, decided to dig through the pantry for ideas. Perhaps a bit easier at my house then it is for most folks because I am a constant deal tracker and review the circulars weekly for the best deals on things I use regularly, inexpensive basics that have multiple uses and a few new items to try out. Yes, I am on a first name basis with most of the employees at the grocery store – at multiple locations. I am a big fan of Hyvee’s fuel perks program [ http://www.hy-vee.com/resources/fuel-saver.aspx ], and the end result of my diligent patronage is practically free gas for my car and ample staples for my cooking ventures.
This is a great resource too: https://www.fuelrewards.com/
However, I am returning to the task at hand, and after a deep examination of my cupboards and a glance into my trusty fridge, the leading option presents itself: individual chicken pot pies. I assemble the following:
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped Yukon Gold potatoes
1/4 cup frozen peas
Pepper (I grabbed our mill)
Penzey’s shallot pepper
Penzey’s dehydrated chives
2 cans unsalted chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
In addition I grabbed a small stock pot with a tight fitting lid. I like the glass option below because it allows me to see the cooking progress without releasing heat.
I placed the pan over medium heat and added 1 TBSP of olive oil. To add additional flavor, I also snuck in some smoked bacon fat from my fridge. You could also use butter or anything that will help cook the vegetables and that meshes well with chicken. If you want to keep this less savory, stick with olive or canola oil. Keep the lid off for the time being. Toss in the onions and sprinkle in a good few grinds of pepper and a pinch of salt. It should look like this:
I also like to add this savory specialty spice, Penzey’s Shallot Pepper [ https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/shallot-pepper-seasoning/c-24/p-453/pd-s ]. Currently it is my go to add when cooking main courses.
Let this cook for about 2 minutes and toss in the celery. Tonight I was using up some older produce and actually opted to use the tender center stalks and chop up the leaves into the fray. Not only do they add even more flavor, but nutrients too. Stir the mixture and hit it with more pepper, salt and shallot pepper. It will look something like this:
After another 2 minutes, stir, add in the carrots, and for the third time pepper, salt and shallot pepper. Cook for five minutes. You will note my carrots have crinkles, this is another example of a smart purchase – 98 cents for a 1 lb bag and 3 cents in fuel perks. They were a handy choice for snacks and lunches, plus easy to add to salads or soup for some added pizazz.
At this point your kitchen will already smell amazing, and you will be even more glad that you decided to make this dish. Now add in the chicken – mine was leftover from a rottiserie chicken that was sale priced and 5 cent fuel perks offer, so I am feeling very thrifty at this particular moment.
Then you sprinkle with dehydrated chives, pepper and shallot pepper, then stir the mixture once more. Cook for 1 minute.
Now add in the chicken broth, peas and potatoes. You want enough liquid to cover everything, but not too much liquid, or your soup base will be too watery for pot pie.
Put the lid on, and set a timer for 30 minutes. Also, take this opportunity to preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You are cooking all the vegetables until the majority of them are soft and practically dissolving into the soup, with the exception of the carrots which are the densest and the peas which are more like little pops of freshness.
While this is cooking, take a moment to grab the items from the fridge – half & half, 8 pack of crescent rolls and one egg. As you will note, I have store brands. While some products are indeed superior and worth the high price tag, in most cases they are not. Don’t be afraid to skip the label shopping and likely save $ in the process.
Crack the egg into a custard cup and beat it with a fork. You are making an egg wash for the pastry. It will add some nice color and help the pastry finish cooking prior to burning.
When the timer finishes, stir in the cream of chicken soup and the half and half, this will give your soup a creamy texture and let you skip making a flour roux to thicken the liquid. I am all about easy. It should look like this. Hit it one last time with fresh ground pepper.
Divide the soup into 4 or 8 custard cups, depending on the size. These are from Target [http://m.target.com/c/bakeware-kitchen-home/ramekins/-/N-5xtsbZ5v35m] and hold 1 cup. As you can see, they are resting on a tinfoil lined baking sheet. This helps minimize the mess and makes it tons easier to put them into (and out of the oven).
Open the crescent rolls and unroll the dough. You can cover the whole dish or be more creative with abstract triangles or patterns. I cut some apart to cover everything completely.
Stir the egg wash for 30 seconds to make sure it is well beaten, and then paint all pastry. It should look something like this:
Put them into the oven for 10-13 minutes. A good reference is the actual crescent roll package directions. Remember you can always leave them in for longer if needed…but it is almost impossible to uncook a dish. Once the pastry is golden brown, you are ready to eat!