Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pot Pies

The weather is changing fast. I hauled a bunch of logs in yesterday and we lit our first fire of the season. Crouched in front of the fireplace, with only a torn edge from a wine box to get the fire lit, it hit me. We are home. We have our home now. It has been such a long haul, but slowly Plum Lyon is finding her groove, and we've got classes nearly every day of the week now.

I have 6 pounds of chanterelles grises and a moment to breathe. Some will go to my students. I want to try steaming some and serving them cold in a little oil and seasonings with hunks of nice bread. I will prepare duxelles to freeze and have to use after the season is gone. But I will also put some into good old fashioned pot pies.

 Old Hen Pot Pies (Tourtes Campagnardes) (for 6 to 8)

1 old hen
1 bouquet garni (parsley, thyme and bay)
3 onions
2 cloves
5 carrots
3 quarts or liters of water
3 potatoes
300 grams white button mushrooms
400 grams grey chanterelle mushrooms
1 1/2 cups of shelled peas or sliced up green beans
3 shallots
300 grams chicken breast or mix of light and dark meat
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
duck fat for browning and thickening the sauce
salt, pepper, nutmeg, and paprika to season
3 batches of pate brisée

Cut up the old hen and brown the pieces in a little bit of duck fat in a frying pan. You can also place them under the broiler to brown the skin, if that's easier for you. In a big simmering pot, place the bouquet, one onion stuck with 2 cloves and 2 carrots and the browned old hen pieces and cover the lot with about 3 quarts or liters of water. Bring this to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Let this simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours.

When this is done, remove the hen pieces to cool on a platter and strain the cooking liquid. Skim off as much fat as you can, then set the old hen broth to boil. Cook the broth at a rolling boil it down by half or until it evaporates to 1 liter or quart.

Thicken the broth by either whisking 80 grams (about 2 heaping tablespoons) of corn starch mixed with a couple of tablespoons of water into the broth or a similar amount of flour mixed with 1 tablespoon of duck fat (or butter) to a paste, whisking into the broth. Bring up the heat and then let simmer about 15 minutes over medium heat until it reaches a shiny clear thick velvety sauce. The longer you cook this, the better it will taste, but be reasonable, you don't want it to reduce too much or you won't have enough sauce for your pies.

Remove the chunks of meat from the hen pieces and reserve them in the refrigerator.

Dice the potato and carrots and put them in a 2 quart saucepan. Add the peas and cover this with water, seasoning it with salt. Bring this to a boil and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the carrots are crisp/tender (this is a gauge, if the carrots are done, so are the potatoes and peas). Strain immediately and cool under running cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Cut the chicken meat into small pieces.  Season them with lemon juice and salt, and have them on standby while you saute the minced shallots and remaining onions in a little bit of duck fat or butter over medium heat. Once the shallots and onions are transparent, you can put them in the bowl with the carrots,  potatoes and peas.  Now cook the meat in the same pan.  Brown it on both sides, being sure not to over cook or overcrowd it. Add this all to the sauce. Swish a little water in the pan to get the brown bits and scrape this into the sauce.

Add the cooked onions, potatoes, peas and carrots to the sauce and keep at a low simmer. Clean the mushrooms, leaving the chanterelles whole if possible and cutting the white button mushrooms into thin slices. Cook them similarly to the way you cooked the meat, in a hot pan, allowing the juices to fully evaporate before adding them to the stew. Add the old hen meat and season the stew. Start with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, about a half teaspoon of each. Add paprika, beginning with a teaspoon, adding it until you feel it has heightened the flavor sufficiently.

Roll out dough in pieces to fit whatever pots you plan to use to bake them in. Roll it out 2 to 4 inches (4 to 6 cm) larger than the size of your receptacle, depending on how deep the receptacle is. Line the receptacles with dough, allowing it to go beyond the edge of the receptacle. Ladle the stew into each pastry lined pot, and fold the remaining dough down over the stew, leaving a space in the middle of the pie.

Apply an egg wash (beaten egg applied with a brush) to the visible portions of dough. Bake the pot pies in a 200C/400F oven for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the stew is bubbly. Serve these pies nice and hot.

Update:  If this recipe seems a bit much, you can probably catch a couple of these pies at Le Cafe Mokxa, or other pies.  There are hearty beef pies, and an amazing champignon a la creme pie, and maybe one or two volaille et chanterelle pies.


Blogger Unknown said...

I love this post. I love the image of you in your home-school, lighting a fire. And I love chicken pot pies! This is the type of thing to make in large quantity and have on hand in the freezer for lazy, cold, winter nights. Thanks for the recipe!

12:15 AM, October 17, 2012  
Blogger SmitoniusAndSonata said...

These sound delicious ! It'll definitely be a pleasure to spend a cosy afternoon in the kitchen with pots simmering .
( I particularly love your instruction to "be reasonable" . I'll try )

8:36 AM, October 17, 2012  
Blogger Unknown said...

This sounds delicious! Do you think I could use cèpes instead of chanterelles and button mushrooms? And how does one say 'old hen' in French?

10:20 AM, October 17, 2012  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Thanks, friends! Yes, Rebecca, feel free to do whatever you like with mushrooms, cepes would be amazing.

12:39 PM, October 17, 2012  

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