Easy as Chicken Pot Pie

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

The last time I was in New York, it was frigid. We spent our Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn — I spent more money than necessary on handmade jewelry at Artists and Fleas (quite possibly my favorite place on the earth), and after wandering to the waterfront for pretty photos of Manhattan and strolling around Brooklyn in the Nordic-temperature shade, we stumbled into a little cash-only joint named Juniper.

It smelled delicious, and had a space heater at the door. And right as we walked in, we eyed a giant bowl of mac and cheese that had just arrived at a nearby table. We salivated. So, we stayed.

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

For being a restaurant with maaaaybe 6 tables, it took an unnecessarily long time to get our diet cokes and later, the check, but the comfort food was pretty amazing. I had the chicken pot pie, which I instagrammed and later dreamed of. After a few bites, I looked up at Shaeda and said, “We have to make this.”

She agreed.

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

It seemed to be no coincidence that both Bon Appetit and Martha Stewart Living featured chicken pot pie recipes. It’s like their editors knew that we’d all be facing a brutal winter this year. In the past two months, I’ve seen more snow than I’ve seen in the three years it’s been since Snowmageddon. It’s lovely, but I do find myself checking flight prices to Miami every other day.

So today, I was determined to make this. I found the adorable mini saucepans at the TJ Maxx downtown (score! Similar ones here) and came up with a simple, but comforting recipe for chicken pot pie. Most recipes called for potatoes, and some for cream, but y’all know about my attempts to stay on track with some form of a healthy diet. I was surprised to realize that chicken pot pies don’t actually need much, other than chicken, vegetables, butter and puff pastry. It’s high in flavor, low in guilt. I’m okay with that.

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

chicken pot pie // sweetsonian

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 of a medium onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup carrots, sliced into coins
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • About 3/4 lbs. chicken, diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 or 3 cups fresh spinach
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a skillet, melt the butter and saute the shallot and onions. Once the onions start to brown (maybe after 3-4 minutes), add the carrots, celery, and chicken. When the chicken starts to brown and burnt bits start to collect at the bottom of the pan, stir in the 2 tablespoons of flour.
  3. Add the chicken broth, and a pinch or two each of salt and pepper. Also add the spinach and stir, letting the stew simmer and thicken.
  4. Transfer your stew to two oven-safe bowls, dividing evenly. When I made this, I placed my puff pastry directly on top of the bowls. The puff pastry didn’t rise as high as it normally would, which I believe had something to do with the dough touching the stew directly — so on my next batch, I cooked the puff pastry on a baking sheet separately, and then placed the cooked puff pastry on the stew afterwards.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, until the puff pastry has risen and turns a golden brown. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 25 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2

2014 is my jam.

lemon, leek & cannellini stew // sweetsonian

lemon, leek & cannellini stew // sweetsonian

2013 was a long year. Not a particularly bad one, for me, but a long one.

Last January, my boss at the Energy Department asked me if 2013 was the year Sweetsonian would take off. I hadn’t thought about it until that moment, but I did decide right then. Yes, yes it would. 2013 would be the year Sweetsonian takes off.

So, I got to work. I’ve learned so much about blogging in the past year alone. I’m happy to be here, even though I’ve fallen off the boat in the past couple of months — I’ve told you all about my issues with exhaustion. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I worked hard to write regularly, not just for you, but for me. Because writing here helps me sort out my own priorities, and it helps me decide what’s worth talking about and what isn’t.

I feel like I’ve opened up way more than I ever have in the past year. Like that time I wrote a very heartfelt confession of the best and worst lovespell of my life (which happened to be my first post picked up by Refinery 29, naturally). I’ve written a lot about him. And my mother, or hints to the lack thereof.

I was talking to one of my friends about goals — I, for one, have always been a very goal-oriented woman. Her mother encourages visualizing. That is, taking a few minutes every day to close your eyes and visualize your goals — who you want to be in the future, where you want to live, what you’d like to be doing with your life. I fell in love with this concept, partially because I’m a desperate victim to even the slightest distraction. Distractions from the day job projects or the freelance ones. Distractions because the internet is a volatile place. Distractions from reality because I might have mild ADD. As a child of the internet, don’t we all?

lemon, leek & cannellini stew // sweetsonian

lemon, leek & cannellini stew // sweetsonian

Anyway, by taking a few minutes out of each day to clear your mind and just visualize the things that you want in life, you allow yourself to keep your goals in check. It’s a lot like yoga, which I’ve been practicing diligently for the past couple of months. Yoga is that one place where I actually can clear my mind of the noise. It’s a nice sanctuary at the beginning or end of a long day.

For the past couple of weeks, I let myself visualize when I feel myself getting frustrated or stressed. It’s nice to just take a deep breath, close my eyes, and picture a nice house in Brooklyn with a kitchen filled with light and a pretty office, with one desk for my computer and another for my typewriter. Doesn’t that sound nice? Just typing up that imagery brought a smile to my face. Because my three goals this year are to get hella fit, move to New York, and fall in love. Ambitious, but nice to visualize.

I’m thinking, realistically, that 2 out of 3 would be great. Expecting 3 of 3 might lead to disappointment (men of DC, I’m talking about you), but as Lauren told me in a text last night, 2 out of 3 is a pretty good goal for most things in life. I definitely agree.

For now, it’s a bit chilly in Washington. I have the day off, so I did a little bit of cooking — this stew is derived from a dear friend, and is a go-to dish when I have people over in the fall and winter. Serve it by itself, or with a generous helping of fried or broiled salmon, bacon crumbles and fresh parsley.

lemon, leek & cannellini stew // sweetsonian

Lemon, Leek & Cannellini Stew, derived from The Spinning Plate

Ingredients

  • 3 cans canellini beans (any white bean is O.K.)
  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 2 large leeks, rinsed thoroughly and chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 heaping handful jullienned sundried tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cups white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Rinse and drain your cannellini beans, and set aside.
  2. In a cast iron Dutch oven (or any large pot), heat the bacon grease, and add in a drizzle of olive oil. Sautee the chopped leeks for a few minutes, until they soften and start to brown on the edges. Then, add in your sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, beans, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Add in the chicken (or vegetable) broth, with a pinch of salt and maybe a few pinches of pepper. Stir, cover, and let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, letting the beans soak in the flavors from the broth.
  4. Then, stir in a cup of wine, and squeeze the juice from the lemon into the stew. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so, and serve.