Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dairy-free Chicken Pot Pie

Like Lauren, I think that the amount of meat Americans eat is unsustainable, unhealthy, and environmentally disastrous. That said, I don't feel the need to go completely veggie. Instead, I just reduce how often I eat meat and I try to chose fish and poultry over beef and lamb. I find that using meat sparingly in a meal is usually better than putting a big piece of meat on a plate. Enter: the chicken pot pie.

A good chicken pot pie is one of the yummiest, heartiest meals available to a wintertime cook. And, seeing as organic local strawberries are still weeks (months?) away for us way up here in Seattle, I'm still predominantly cooking winter foods. So when one of my roommates came home with a ton of leftover cooked chicken from some event she went to, this recipe got bumped to the top of my mental list.

The trouble with chicken pot pies is that almost every recipe calls for butter and cream. I modified a chicken pot pie recipe from Smitten Kitchen to use Earth Balance in the crust and rice milk to add creaminess to the fillings. In an effort to make it a bit more healthy, I used whole wheat flour for the crust. It didn't roll out quite like butter and white flour would have, but it was still delicious. I also made sure to make plenty of roux to thicken up the middle, in case the thinner rice milk wouldn't do the trick. Turned out great!

Dairy-Free Chicken Pot Pie
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the pastry:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup cold Earth Balance, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper

For the filling:

½ C olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 yellow onions, chopped
2-3 cups cooked chicken pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened rice or soy milk
2 cups medium-diced carrots
2 cups frozen peas
Glug of sherry (optional, I didn't bother)
½ cup minced fresh parsley leaves (optional, use them either)

For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the Earth Balance and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. Add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. (This can also be made a day or more in advance.)

Heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan. In a large pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions and carrots over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock, rice or soy milk, and cooked chicken to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the peas, parsley, and a glug of sherry, if you’re using it. Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the filling equally among four ovenproof bowls. (Mine filled four smallish ramekins and one large glass dish.) Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into a circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

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