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Thursday, August 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 70.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Chicken pot pie is perfect... for sharing (recipe)
A schmaltzy ode to comfort food

Credit:Sid Richards

After comfort-food-loving Paula Deen's exposure as a diabetic, I had to ask, "Gawd, am I turning into Paula?" When it comes to indulgence, I'm guilty as charged: bacon-pecan pie, buffalo mac 'n' cheese, and now a pot pie.

Like a bumbling bear, winter brings out the calorie-seeking beast in me. Before I know it, I'm rifling for prim parsnips, sweet fennel and the dowdy but delicious rutabaga to tumble between a schmaltzy crust with chicken and a lemon cream sauce that mentally jogs my mind ahead to spring.

But let's be real - fat is flavor, and this pie has a lot of both. I'm of the philosophy that moderation is key, so take a slice and then pass it on. This pie loves company.

Hibernation Chicken Pot Pie
Yields one 9" pie

  • 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 1 pound, 2 cups cooked)
  • 2 cups fennel bulb, thinly sliced; reserve fronds
  • 2 cups leeks (white part), thinly sliced; reserve scraps
  • 1 cup parsnips, sliced about 1/4/" x 1/2" x 1/2" thick; reserve scraps
  • 1 cup rutabaga, sliced about 1/4/" x 1/2" x 1/2" thick
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped, plus 4 sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • water

Pie dough:

  • 2 tablespoons rendered schmaltz (chicken fat) plus 6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2" inch cubes
  • 12 ounces flour (about 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose unbleached flour)
  • 7-8 tablespoons ice water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream sauce:

  • 1/2 cup leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup vermouth
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Remove skin and fat from chicken, and chop; cook on low in a sauté pan until skins are crisp. Strain fat (schmaltz) and reserve (about 2 tablespoons); harden in freezer.

Place chicken in a saucepan just big enough to fit breasts side by side with about 1 cup total fennel fronds, edible fennel and parsnip scraps, and thyme sprigs, bay leaf and peppercorns. Add just enough water to cover; bring to boil then lower heat and simmer 25 minutes. Remove chicken and shred when cool; strain and reserve broth.

Start pie dough: Using your hands, combine dry ingredients and quickly work in schmaltz and butter until fat pieces are about the size of peas. Drizzle in ice water until dough just holds together. Form into two 1"-thick rounds (one slightly larger than the other), wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

While dough chills, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low heat in a large sauté pan and sweat fennel and leeks, about 5 minutes. Add parsnips and rutabaga; cook 1-2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup broth; cook about 5 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make sauce: Sweat leeks in butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add vermouth, lemon zest and 2 sprigs of thyme; turn heat to medium-high and reduce to half. Turn heat to low and add flour, stirring to form a paste. Whisk in broth and let simmer until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Add cream and simmer until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in lemon juice and Dijon; salt and pepper to taste. Strain and combine with chicken, vegetables and chopped thyme. Adjust seasoning.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out both rounds of dough to about 1/8" thick. Gently press larger round into lightly greased 9" pie plate. Fill with chicken mixture. Cover pie with second round of dough. Trim excess and pinch edges to seal. Cut a few steam vents in top.

Line edge of pie with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake 45 minutes longer until golden.

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