Winter may be on the way out, but there are still a few cold nights to get through.
Comfort food is always a warm standby in chilly weather. But don't let your winter blahs make your food "blah," too. Take your dinner to the next level like "Early Show" contributor Katie Lee. Lee showed on the broadcast how you can take a classic American favorite: chicken pot pie, and bring the dish to life with some simple, flavorful changes.
Chicken Pot Pie
I used to always make my chicken pot pies with a traditional pastry crust or with biscuits, but I decided to try using puff pastry. One bite of that flakey buttery crust and my mind was made up -- I would be using puff pastry on my chicken pot pies for good. I love making individual pot pies in ovenproof bowls so that each person can have their own. They are perfect for a winter dinner party.
14 ounces good-quality puff pastry (such as Dufour)
4 cups chicken stock
1 large yellow onion, cut in quarters
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 tablespoon chopped
4 chicken breasts
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh pearl onions, peeled
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup peas
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 cup milk 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry dough with a floured rolling pin. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing pie filling.
Combine the stock, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme sprigs in a large pot over high heat. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the chicken breasts. Raise the heat and return the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. Strain the stock and set aside 2 1/2 cups. Reserve the remaining stock for another use. When the chicken is cool to the touch cut it into bite-size chunks and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pearl onions and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and peas and cook another 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook another minute. Add reserved stock and milk, stirring constantly. Cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add chicken, the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped thyme, salt, and ground pepper. Spoon chicken mixture into four 2-cup individual oven-proof bowls. Set aside.
Remove pastry from refrigerator and cut into four circles, using the empty bowls as a guide. Place one circle on each bowl and press around the edges to seal the pastry around the bowl. Cut a vent in the center. Using a pastry brush, brush each pie with the egg wash.
Bake until the pastry is puffed and dark golden brown, about 35 minutes.
When I dine in Paris, I always order a salad vert (green salad) to start, even if it's not on the menu. I know it sounds kind of boring to be in the culinary Mecca of the world and be eating salads at every meal, but they're so good. The French really know how to do a salad. The secret is to keep it simple.
1 head of Bibb lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Handful of chopped fresh herbs (about 1/4 cup), such as chives, tarragon, and parsley
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine the lettuce and herbs in a medium bowl. In a glass jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid combine the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, shallots, salt, and pepper. Shake to combine. Pour over the salad and toss. Serve immediately.