Some time ago, while David was still deployed, I asked him what foods he might want when he returned. I was trying to get my mind geared up for cooking for two, and cooking more often (while he was gone, I might cook two or three times a week and then eat the left overs for the rest of the week). It may have been then, it may have been at some other time in history completely, but at some point, he mentioned that chicken pot pie sounded good. Having switched to a gluten free diet, I kind of put this thought out of my mind, not feeling quite up to the challenge. Well, the thought returned this week while I was making my menu. In the past, I have been really bad about making menus and actually sticking to them, preferring to make whatever I felt like. But this doesn’t work so well at this point in our lives since our favorite grocery store is the farthest away and we are trying to stick with a budget. It also helps us to not have food go bad because I *thought* I was going to use it and didn’t feel like it.
So anyway, I was making a menu, and despite the many recipes I’ve tried, the many in my new(ish) cookbook I haven’t tried (yet) and the plethora of recipes available online, I was stumped. It felt a little bit like writer’s block. That is when the pot pie popped into my head. I gave it a little thought, but not having a ready recipe for it, I wasn’t so sure. But deciding it wouldn’t hurt, I attempted a search. At first, I foolishly just typed ‘chicken pot pie’ into Google, after which, I decided it might be wise to add ‘gluten free.’ Only then did I think to search my favorite GF blogs to see if they had posted anything. I guess it’s true what they say about the third time.
I started with my favorite. (If you followed that link you might see the post from April 11 which I am going to be making with salmon sometime this week). She didn’t disappoint. Well, actually in a way she kind of did – she didn’t have an actual chicken pot pie recipe, but she did have one for the puff pastry. But thinking back to my initial search, I decided the innards wouldn’t be too hard to whip up. Looking through the search results, one caught my eye since it was a blog that a friend of mine had recommended previously. I decided to give it a try.
I had planned to make this recipe on a Thursday (that would be tomorrow). No particular reasoning behind that plan, I just thought I would have more time then. Well, yesterday, David told me that he would be working at some unknown hours on my planned day. I did some thinking and decided that today would be a good alternate. I am glad that I got this into my head yesterday because on perusing the recipe this morning, I realized that the puff pastry would be an all day endeavor. In fact, as soon as I realized it, I got up to cut up the butter which was to be put in the freezer for an hour.
Having never made a puff pastry at all, I have no clue if the process went according to what would be considered normal when gluten is involved. Probably not quite.
After the hours of rolling, folding, rolling, folding, rolling, folding, chilling, rolling, folding (ok, I’ll stop there), I was finally ready to make the insides. It was pretty much the same as making chicken soup, except with flour. The recipe calls for the all-purpose variety, so I decided to substitute potato four. I learned something: a one-to-one ratio is really not a good idea here. The innards ended up really, really, really thick and tasting like there was potato in it, which I guess there was. I decided this wasn’t very photo worthy, so all you get is a picture of onions.
Then it got panned.
I kinda didn’t follow the directions too well at this point. I was told to sort of paint (my words here) the outside of the pie dish with egg white before laying the crust on top so that it would stick to the glass. Yeah, I didn’t do that. Which meant that the pie innards did a little dripping. Luckily I realized my mistake after it was too late to egg-white the dish, but before I put it in the oven. I slid a cookie sheet onto the rack below to catch the drips. There were quite a few.
I don’t know if it is because I have recently had a cold or if the pie was just not very effervescent, but there was only the slightest of odors as the pie baked. It smelled a little bit like butter (if you have read the recipe, you will not find this at all surprising). This created the issue of me having no idea how the pie would turn out. David says I should get my olfactory sensors burned off. But he has no idea how much I depend on them, overly-strong though they may be. Without those sensitive sensors, I would not know what to do in the kitchen. Cooks say to taste all throughout the process. I break this constantly – sometimes, I don’t even taste it until the food is on my plate, relying on my nose to tell me what spices are needed. So when I couldn’t smell the pot pie, I was slightly concerned. Quite far from worried, but still. I calmed myself by telling myself that I had tasted the innards, and though too thick, they tasted good. And the crust was looking good as it slowly went from a sickly pale to a crispy golden color.
When I finally pulled the pan out of the oven, the innards were dripping shamelessly down the sides. (There is still a ring of charred drops on the cookie sheet that was below the pan, if you would like to come wash that up for me. Oh, the rack the pie was sitting on has a few souvenirs as well.) I cut into the crust and watched the steam floating up, hoping that this wasn’t some romantic foreshadowing of burned mouths. David came by to watch me cut and managed to swipe a bit. He made some indecipherable grunt, so I was of course obliged to ask what that meant. He said, “It tastes like chicken pot pie.”
Now I must back up. While he was watching me fill up the pan, he told me that when he was young he loved the frozen chicken pot pies that could simply be slipped into the oven, hassle free. (Actually, what he said is that he would frustrate his mom by eating off the crusts.) So when he informed me that my chicken pot pie tastes like chicken pot pie, I was a little confused about how that piece of information should be taken. My options seemed to be: 1. He had been expecting this gluten-free, first-ever-attempt-at-a-pot-pie pot pie to taste strange and nothing like what he remembered or 2. He had been expecting it to be so delicious and heavenly that it would make his pies of yore seem like nothing more than a hot pocket and was surprised that it tasted like nothing more than an ordinary pot pie. But I wisely did not take offense at either of these options and said something to the effect of, “Well, yeah, that’s what it is.”
I will not lengthen this by describing to you the efforts he thereafter made to extricate himself from the hole he was worried he’d bulldozed his way into. All you need to know is that it amounted to a little bit of option #1 above. You should also know that he had seconds. Thirds were resisted by force of will.
As for me, I don’t really remember eating many chicken pot pies in my lifetime, but what memory my tastebuds do have of them seemed to line up pretty well with the results of the day. Actually, I’d say this pie was better. I will attempt to quote (and probably end up mis-quoting (this is not my fault completely since I asked him to repeat his words, but he couldn’t remember them exactly either)) David’s words when the dog was begging (so cutely and persistently) for a bit, or even just a plate to lick: “To give something that is this good and took this much time and effort to the dog would probably be a mortal sin.”