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Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007 12:19 pm

Warming up

Connect with your neglected vegetables — and make a pot pie

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Untitled Document My friend Nan in Chicago made one. So did my mother, who lives in Pennsylvania. All across America, womenfolk were baking pot pies, and I was their preacher. I had found my calling: to spread the good word about bubbling-hot, savory filling and how it can save home cooks from falling into a frozen winter coma. “Let’s move beyond soup, y’all,” I shouted from my countertop. Praise the revitalizing power of piecrust that’s meant for supper! So go on and open that fridge. Talk to the contents of your crisper. Doesn’t it feel good to connect with those neglected veggies? Everything you need is right here, at home, and deliverance from winter evil is but an hour away.
Culinary questions? Contact Kim O’Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.
What’s-in-the-Fridge Chicken Pot Pie
Dough 2 cups all-purpose flour 4 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt Black pepper to taste 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or one clove minced garlic 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese About 1 cup milk or cream (cream is easier to work with; half-and-half works well, too)
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and garlic. Add butter and, with your fingertips or a dough cutter, work butter into flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Stir in Cheddar. Add milk/cream, gradually and gently, just until dough holds. Dough will be wet and sticky. Scoop it onto plastic, wrap it, and allow it to relax in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
When ready to roll, remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Dust the dough with flour and add it as necessary until the dough is pliable and can be rolled out into a circle about 1/4 inch thick.

Filling
This is merely a guide; use what you like and what’s already in the house. 3 tablespoons vegetable oil Half a medium onion, chopped Three cloves garlic, minced Two or three carrots, diced A few sprigs of rosemary, needles removed, finely chopped Six to 10 small potatoes (red, fingerling, etc.) About 5 ounces cooked chicken, pulled from the bones Handful of Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped 1 cup chicken stock 9-inch pie plate, greased
In a saucepan with boiling salted water, cook the potatoes until nearly fully cooked. Drain and chop into bite-size pieces.
In a deep skillet, heat oil and add onion, garlic, and carrots. Over medium heat, cook until veggies are softened; add rosemary, potatoes, and chicken, stirring until combined. Add salt and pepper as needed. Add chard, stirring to combine, allowing it to wilt slightly. Meanwhile, heat stock in a small saucepan and keep it at a simmer. In a fourth pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add 2 tablespoons flour, allowing the two to combine and cook for a minute. Gradually add stock to roux, whisking vigorously to remove any flour lumps, until you have a gravy. Season as you like. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spoon filling into pie plate, followed by enough gravy to moisten the filling. Place the dough on top and trim it as necessary, crimping the edges. With a paring knife, make a few incisions in the dough for steam release. Bake for 30 minutes, until the dough turns golden and the filling is bubbling. Slice into pie wedges and serve immediately. Makes at least four servings.
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