I should have returned to the kitchen with an easier choice than an Iron Chef recipe but this chicken pot pie sounded so good, how could I resist? I wanted real food! The recipe comes from Bobby Flay‘s recently published Bar Americain Cookbook published by Random House of Canada.
Should you attempt to make this dish, make sure you either start early in the day or give yourself a couple of days to make it. Oh and turn off the telephone!
SWEET POTATO CRUST
“To make the sweet potato crust, preheat the oven to 375F.”
This immediately worried me. The first line of directions and I was already questioning Bobby’s instructions. I did not believe the potato would be cooked in time. Oh the joys of recipe testing.
I decided to follow his instructions no matter what so I pricked 1 large sweet potato with a fork, put it on a baking sheet and roasted in the oven for 45 minutes.
What happened? It came out rock hard. But I didn’t know! I just let it cool down thinking “Bobby knows best” and later tried to mash the potato. No bloody way. So I put it in my food processor. Didn’t do a thing.
I put it in a small baking dish, covered it with aluminum foil and put in a 350F oven for 20 minutes. Nope, still hard! I turned up the heat to 425F, covered with foil and baked another 20 minutes. FINALLY! It was soft.
This was my first day working on the dish and I was done. I let it cool off and then put it in the fridge covered with plastic wrap.
On the second day I stirred together 3 3/4 cup flour, 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper.
I cut in 1/2 pound (1 cup or two sticks) cold unsalted better that I had cubed until it was small bits.
I mashed the sweet potato in a mixing bowl. I added 1 large egg and 1/2 cup of whole milk. Mostly whole milk, I almost had enough and topped it with some skim. I added the sweet potato mixture to the dry ingredients.
As usually, I need way more liquid than the recipe called for. I added some evaporated skim milk to bring the crust together.
I brought the dough together with my hands on a floured surface, shaped into a round disk, flatted slightly, wrapped in plastic wrap and put in the fridge.
I was going to make the rest of the recipe but the phone rang and it was an important call. We had to have an early dinner that night so once again, I had to wait until the next day to work on Mr. Flay’s chicken pot pie.
At first the filling looked pretty straight-forward but then I noticed in the list of ingredients the words “sauteed” and “blanched”. The recipe takes two pages and doesn’t include these steps but not to worry, I will!
In a frying pan, saute 3/4 lb quartered cremini mushrooms in some canola oil until golden brown. I used regular portobello mushrooms with stems and ribs (the brown part under the cap that looks like gills) removed.
“Blanching: This term means to plunge food into boiling salted water for a few seconds or a few minutes, depending on what you are cooking” ~ Quoted from Bar Americain Cookbook‘s index
The recipe requires blanching 2 peeled medium diced turnips (I used a small rutabaga), 2 peeled matchstick cut carrots, 1 cup frozen pearl onions (my store did not have any so I substituted with corn) and 1 cup frozen peas. Now I could be wrong but it seems that blanching a turnip is going to take a lot longer than peas, right? But there is no blanching time given. Seconds or minutes?
I went with around 2 1/2 minutes. I stopped the cooking process by adding the drained veggies to some ice water and then drained again. I hate it when a recipe is not clear about cooking times!
You are supposed to make the filling in a medium sauce pan but I just did not trust the recipe at this point. It looked like there was going to be a lot of filling so I got out my big soup pot instead.
I melted 4 tbsp of unsalted butter “over high heat” and my butter immediately burned! Which I knew it would but I had to follow the recipe.
I washed the pot, put it on medium high heat and melted the butter, much more gently. I added 1 finely diced medium Spanish onion and cooked for 4 minutes until softened. I added 3 finely chopped cloves of garlic for just a minute.
I added 1/4 cup of flour, cooking and stirring until golden brown, around 3 minutes. During this entire process I had 4 cups of whole milk warming on the back burner.
I slowly whisked in the hot milk, letting it thicken with each addition. I reduced the heat to medium, whisking occasionally and cooking the sauce for 5 minutes. It actually took me longer to get a thicker consistency but it was worth the wait.
I added in the mushrooms, blanched veggies, shredded meat of 1 roast chicken and 2 tsp of pureed canned chipotle chili in adobo. Then I folded in 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley.
I like to remove the seeds from the chilies, puree it and keep it in the freezer. This way there is lots of flavour without too much heat. I was hesitant to add 2 tsp, which sounded like a lot but that was a lot of filling. (It would never have fit in a medium sauce pan BTW!) I decided to add the full amount of chipotle and am glad I did.
Make sure to season with salt and pepper at this point and taste the filling to make sure that it is “done,” finally!
I rolled out the dough and was considering making individual servings of the pot pie but when I saw how much filling there was! I just threw it in a large greased springform pan. Then I realized in order for me to know how big to make the cut out for the crust, the pan was going to be hot which would impact the dough. Crap!
I looked for the instructions for the one large crust and all it said was to roll it out and top a 10″ baking dish with it. I saw no note about thickness. The individual servings were supposed to be 1/8″ thick but what about the pot pie? That sounded too thin. Ugh!
I topped the pie with the crust (around 1/4″ thick), rolled the edge over the rim of the pan, brushed with an egg wash and sprinkled with salt and pepper. I baked it in a preheated 375F oven for 30 minutes, like the recipe recommended. The crust was raw! I had to bake it an additional 15 minutes for it to bake through. I would suggest lining your baking tray with foil or parchment paper because it leaked all over the place.
After making Bobby’s stunning Pumpkin Loaf, I thought all the recipes were going to be just as clear and straight-forward. Not when it comes to this pot pie. I felt like I was hanging in the wind, totally on my own a lot of the time. I am trying really hard to stay true to the recipes but sometimes I just want to do my own thing but I am testing the recipe as much as I am making food I enjoy eating.
When it comes to the writing and clarity, this recipe made me unhappy. When it comes to flavour? It was freakin’ fantastic. Absolutely Iron Chef worthy damn it. Reg said it was one of the best pot pies he has ever had and he is an expert. I thought it was going to be bland but the chipotle really added depth and the simplicity let the ingredients shine without boring me to tears. Far from it. It made chicken interesting for me which is the highest compliment I can pay to a chicken recipe.
The sweet potato crust was innovative and absolutely delicious. So good in fact…
I made these flat biscuits with them, I did not want any of it to go to waste.
If the next Bobby Flay recipe takes me three days to make (OK, one day was not his fault) I will tear my hair out. I thought I was being smart and time-savy by picking a recipe with an already-cooked chicken. I could not have been more wrong!
Overall, despite the perfection of flavour I have to take into account the writing of this recipe and only give it four out of five wooden spoons. I do not mind a complicated recipe but instructions that let me down? That is hard to forgive and impossible to ignore. Still, this recipe would feed an army and is worthy of a holiday meal. Just learn from my experience and you will not be sorry!