Chicken Not Pie

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Today’s blog is from my brother-in-law, Russell from Rochester, NY.

Can chicken potpie still be considered comfort food if you leave out the crust? I think so, especially since this version includes lots of creamy potatoes, all the familiar vegetables, and a couple of surprises to boot. Frozen peas are a good substitute when fresh peas aren’t available; but if asparagus is out of season, try ribbons of cabbage or chard. Serve with whole grain bread, plain brown rice of whole wheat fettucine.

Instead, of asparagus, I used ribbons of chard which is what I needed to use up. I also used chicken stock, and maybe cheated by adding some turkey gravy frozen from last Christmas. Regrettably, I had to use white wine vinegar at the end instead of lemon juice—they’re expensive exotic items in the frozen Northeast!

The recipe is from Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman (New York Times column “The Minimalist”) © 2009 published by Simon & Schuster

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Chicken Not Pie

Serves 4

¼ cup olive oil
2 leeks, washed well and diced, including some of the green part
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine or water
1 cup vegetable stock or more water
½ tsp chopped fresh thyme or tarragon leaves or a good pinch dried thyme or tarragon
2 boneless chicken breasts (1 whole breast, split in half), or 4 whole chicken tenderloins
2 or 3 large all-purpose potatoes (like redskin or Yukon Gold), peeled if you like and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium carrots or parsnips, cut into coins
½ lb sugar snap peas or snow peas, trimmed and strings removed if necessary; or 1 cup shell peas (frozen are fine)
½ lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Put half of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the leeks, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, stock, and herbs; bring to a boil, and let bubble for a minute or two.

Add the chicken, turn the heat down medium-low, cover, and simmer until the meat is barely cooked through, 5 or 6 minutes. Remove the chicken.

Add the potatoes and bring to a boil; reduce the heat so the liquid bubbles enthusiastically; and cook until the potatoes are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the carrots or parsnips and cook for another couple of minutes. By now the liquid should be thickening; if not, turn the heat up and cook another couple of minutes, stirring to prevent the vegetables from sticking. Add the remaining oil gradually, stirring vigorously with the back of a spoon as you do so.

Add the peas and asparagus to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are brightly colored and just tender, about 3 minutes. Chop or slice the chicken and return it to the pot, along with any juices that have accumulated and the lemon juice. When warmed through, taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve in shallow bowls, garnished with the parsley.

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