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May 15, 2017
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Easy Homemade Chicken Pot “Pie”---YUM!
        I’M TRYING HARD TO GET IN THE MOOD FOR SPRING, BUT I JUST CAN’T. It’s too darn cold and damp around here! The calendar says it’s the middle of May. But what we’re experiencing is more like the middle of February, 45 degrees and rainy. And you’re not going to tell me that snowflakes falling on the mountain tops is typical May weather here—because it’s not. I was even wearing a winter coat and earmuffs 2 days ago.
        So, I’M STILL CRAVING ALL THAT’S WARM AND COMFORTING. A cold, fresh radish and arugula salad—nope. An early spring pea soup—nope. I want a homemade chicken pot pie for dinner. I know it’s more of a wintry meal, but I’m going for it, even if it is almost Memorial Day.
        THERE’S ONE PROBLEM though--- I want to eat chicken pot pie, but I don’t want to spend half the day making it. To speed up the process, you can get a rotisserie chicken from the grocers, although I like to bake my own (recipe below). And I could use a store-bought crust—but that goes against my religion.
        I’ll give you the store-bought chicken, but not the crust. I switched out that crust for a buttery cracker one instead. Ya know what? I think I LIKE IT EVEN BETTER. By piling on those cracker crumbs with a drizzle of melted butter over the filling, you get a crunchy, buttery topping that’s even better than pie crust. And, it’s SO much easier to make. I can whip this version up in under an hour. That means I could pretty much have a pot “pie” anytime I like.
        Hopefully the sun will come out and the thermometer will read 70 something soon---but until then, I’m still cozying up to the fire. And tonight, I’ll be dining on a yummy chicken pot pie.

LESSONS Learned:
1. You can get yourself a rotisserie chicken or roast your own chicken. I have the how-to at the bottom of this post.
2 Turmeric makes things yellow. It’s optional, if you don’t have it, just leave it out. But it makes the sauce a golden yellow color that reminds me of those frozen Swanson chicken pot pies that I had as a kid. So, I like adding it.
3. You can just crumble the crackers in your hands and sprinkle them over the top. Or I like to put them into a Ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
4. I make these is in individual 8 ounce oven proof bowls or ramekins, but you can bake it in an 8 or 9 inch, round or square pan as well.

Easy Individual Chicken Pot “Pies”

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup small diced onion, about one small onion
1 cup small diced carrot. about two small carrots
1 cup small diced celery, about 2 stalks
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour (I use Hecker’s unbleached)
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
½-3/4 cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
4 cups cooked chicken, cut into ½ inch dice (from 4 split chicken breasts, about 3 pounds-recipe follows)
or from a store bought rotisserie chicken)
2 Tablespoons chicken drippings, optional
½ cup frozen baby peas
1 sleeve of buttery crackers, crushed, about ¾ cup (I like Ritz)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Make the pot pies:
        Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking pan with foil or parchment and set aside.
        In a large heavy pot over medium heat, add the butter and oil. When the butter is melted, add the onion, carrot, celery and a pinch of salt. Cook stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme and turmeric, and cook for another minute. Add the flour and stir to coat all the vegetables. Add the milk and cream, bring to a boil and stir until thickened. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
        Add the chicken, chicken drippings, if desired, and the peas. Stir to combine and heat through, about 2 minutes.
        Divide the mixture between four 8 ounce/1 cup heat-proof ramekins or bowls. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and generously top with the crushed crackers. Drizzle with the melted butter.
        Place the pot pies on the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until the crumbs are golden brown on top.

Makes 4 servings.    YUM!

Roasted Chicken Breasts:
        Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the 4 split bone in, skin on breasts on a large rimmed baking pan. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and use your fingers to evenly coat both sides of each breast. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Turn them skin side up and roast for 35-40 minutes, until skin is lightly browned, and juices run clear. An instant read thermometer should read at least 165 degrees.
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