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I was thinking I needed to hold off on posting this until I did something on roast chicken since it is dependent on having leftovers but a whole post on roasting a chicken would be ridiculous (that said, I did just that and will be doing another one).

Leftover Chicken

A 4.5lb roast chicken will serve 6 people assuming you have people who will eat dark meat. But if you only have 3 or 4 people in your house, you end up with at least half a chicken sitting on a plate in the freezer in its own fat. The easy out is to just make chicken sandwiches and that’s a fine strategy but there are some more interesting options for turning leftovers into a whole dinner and this is one of them.

Equipment:

  • Chef’s knife (you can really use any knife but an 8 or 10″ chef’s knife is what I use)
  • 9″ pie dish, probably not a good idea to use a disposable foil one but I leave that up to you
  • Cutting board
  • Cooling rack of some sort
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Frying pan
  • 1 qt. sauce pan
  • 2 cup measuring cup
  • Microwave safe bowl
  • Spoon
  • Whisk
  • Half sheet pan (cookie sheet will do in a pinch)

Ingredients:

  • Leftover roast chicken
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 lb oyster mushrooms
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon (or so) butter plus a little extra for sautéing shallots and mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon (or so) all purpose (unbleached) flour
  • 1 1/3 cups milk (ideally whole milk but 2% will do. 1% and skim are not milk but milk flavored water and should never be used in cooking. Frankly they should never be sold for non industrial purposes but that’s another war for another day)
  • 1 sheet (9×9″) frozen puff pastry dough
  • Salt & pepper

Time: about 10 minutes prep, then 10 minutes stovetop and 40 minutes in the oven

Serves: 6 normal people, 4 cochons mechants

Process:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Turn the half sheet pan upside down
  3. Remove the frozen pastry dough sheet from its wrapping and put it on the half sheet pan
  4. Tear the meat from the chicken using your bare hands. Even if you are usually a white meat only person, make sure to get as much of the thigh and leg meat off as possible. It’s much more chickeny than the white meat and will add good flavor to the pie. This is a disturbingly satisfying thing to do after you’ve had a bad day at work.
  5. Once you have all the chicken off of the carcass, tear the bigger pieces into bite sized pieces and set this mess aside.
  6. Wash your hands.
  7. Peel and dice the shallot
  8. Peel the carrots and then slice them into relatively uniform size discs discarding the ends.
  9. Cut the ends off of the celery ribs and then chop the rest into relatively uniform size half moon shape things.
  10. Cut the stems off of the mushrooms and cut them into strips about 1/4″ wide.
  11. Put the pot on a burner over medium heat. Put in about a tablespoon of butter
  12. When the butter is melted and starts bubbling, throw in about a tablespoon of flour. These measurements can be approximate but what you are looking for is something the consistency of elmer’s glue or a little thicker
  13. When this turns a little darker than the color of a pair of khaki pants, pour in the milk while whisking speedily. A little tip: if you don’t want to feel supremely uncoordinated, hold the whisk in your dominant had (right hand if you are right handed, left hand if you are thusly afflicted) and pour with your other hand.
  14. Turn down the heat and let this sit for 10 minutes stirring occasionally and making sure it doesn’t boil over and turn into a disgusting mess that’s a pain in the butt to clean up (that is the voice of experience)
  15. Put the frying pan on another burner over medium heat and throw some butter in there. I sometimes add in some white wine if there’s a bottle open in the fridge but with the caveats that it’s just a splash, it has to be a dry white wine (Riesling would be disgusting), and there’s to be no drinking from the bottle.
  16. Once the butter is melted and bubbling, toss in your shallot and mushrooms and sauté them for about 3 minutes
  17. Put the peas and carrots in the microwave safe bowl and put them in the microwave
  18. Cook them on high for 2 minutes. Or at least it’s 2 minutes in my microwave, this is where the obligatory “All microwaves are different, yours may be more or less powerful than mine so pay attention to what you are doing or you might get hurt” disclaimer has to be inserted.
  19. About now your 10 minutes should be up (don’t sweat it if you go a little over)
  20. Put everything in the pot in this order: Carrots and celery, then peas and carrots, then chicken, then shallots and mushrooms, and finally salt and pepper.
  21. Stir until everything is distributed evenly
  22. Carefully pour into the pie pan
  23. By now, the pastry dough should be pliable but not completely thawed and you should be able to unfold it. If it is not pliable do NOT attempt to thaw it in the microwave. I have tried this numerous times and it has never worked no matter the combination of power settings and time. My advice it to either open a beer or pour a glass of wine and listen to two songs then check again.
  24. Place the sheet of dough over the pie dish, trim the corners, and cut three slits in the middle for ventilation (and looks)
  25. Turn over the sheet pan and put the pie pan on it.
  26. Put the whole thing in the oven and walk away for 40 minutes.
  27. When you take the pie out of the oven after 40 minutes, let it cool off about 5 minutes before you try to serve it.Chicken Pie

Chicken Half by Sugarman Three available on iTunes