Friday, September 7, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie With a Twist

The list of food pins on my "Yum!" board on Pinterest is getting very long.  You can tell a person's interests by comparing how many pins are on her different boards.  In order of most to least, mine are 277 (Yum!), 126 (Clothes), 107 (Kitchen ideas), 80 (Around the Home), and 52 (Places to Go, Things to Do).  All my other boards don't even come close.  Sadly, my "Books" board comes in at a measly 10 pins.  :-(

So, since I rarely spend money on clothes and a kitchen make-over isn't in the cards any time soon, it's time to work through some of my recipe pins.  Yay!

Tonight I had some chicken tenders thawed out in the fridge, so I thought I would try a recipe inspired by an Indian Spiced Chicken recipe I pinned a while a go from Real Simple. It reminded me more of a chicken bastilla, with its phyllo dough, cinnamon, raisins and almonds, which is my favorite Moroccan dish, so I thought I would try it. If you've never had bastilla, this recipe is an easier way to get the flavors of that dish without all the hassle.  It's not exactly authentic, but I like that it has veggies in it. If you were eating at a Moroccan restaurant, you would be getting all sorts of wonderful vegetable dishes along with the bastilla, but I'm not into long, multi-course meals when I'm cooking at home.  Getting the vegetables in with the meat is so much easier

I didn't follow the recipe exactly (shocker!), because I had other stuff, and comments on the Real Simple website for the recipe suggested that it needed more flavoring, so below is my version.  Plus, even though I had phyllo dough in the freezer, I had half a package of puff pastry already open, so I used that instead.  By all means, use the phyllo, if you like, or don't use it at all.  The chicken veggie mixture is absolutely delicious on its own, so if you're cutting out processed flour, etc., you can still make this recipe and have a very tasty dinner.  It looks like a chicken stew:

The original recipe used rice, but I happened to have some quinoa left over from a previous night's dinner, so I used that.  It also called for yogurt, but I'm cutting out as much dairy from my diet as I can, so I used unsweetened coconut milk instead.

When I put the pastry on top, some of the sauce splooshed over onto the pastry, so I just went with it and brushed more of the sauce on top of it before putting it in the oven.  Luckily, it made a nice golden crust.  Happy accident!  :-)

Here's the finished product and it was really good, if I do say so myself.  I

Oh!  And the measurements on the spices are pretty much approximations, because I just shook stuff in until it tasted right and didn't actually measure.  I know, it's kind of a nightmare recreating stuff that I make, so I'm apologizing in advance.  The only advice I can give is to start out lightly seasoning, then taste and adjust to how you like it.  Me, I like the spices to be assertive, which is probably why my youngest son took one bite, declared it "pretty good," then decided after bite two that he didn't like it "once the flavors kicked in."  My other son, however, thought it was delicious, finished his entire portion and had seconds.  So, there you go.

Time saving tip: If you already have leftover, cooked chicken (2-3 cups) and chicken broth, you can make this even faster by bringing the chicken broth (3 cups or so) to a simmer, adding the chunked up chicken, veggies and spices to it, letting them cook until warmed through and carrots and onions are tender, then proceed with the recipe from the coconut milk/cornstarch mixture on.

With that, dear readers, I give you:

Marna's Easy-as-Chicken-Pot-Pie, Kinda-Sorta Bastilla 

1.5 lbs chicken breast (I used tenders, because that's what I had, but you're going to chunk up the chicken after it's cooked, so whatever you've got will work)
2.5 -3 cups of water
2 carrots, peeled, then chopped in small, bite-sized chunks
1 medium onion, peeled
1 cup peas (frozen or fresh)
1 clove garlic, diced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp sweet curry powder (mine is from Penzey's, but you can used any mild curry powder)
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp corn starch (or you can substitute whatever thickening agent you like to use)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1 cup cooked quinoa (can substitute rice if you like)
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed but still cold (you can substitute 4-5 sheets of phyllo dough)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken in a single layer in a heavy, oven-proof pot or dutch oven, then pour water in (the water should be at least an inch high in the pot -- it doesn't have to cover the chicken).  Bring water to a boil, lower the temperature to bring the water down to a simmer, cover the pot and poach the chicken until cooked, about 10 minutes if you're using tenders, a little longer if you're using bigger pieces of chicken.

Remove chicken from the pot and cut into bit-sized pieces. Cut the peeled onion in half, then slice thinly.  Put onions, carrots, peas and garlic in the water.  Return to boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook until vegetables have started to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the cinnamon, cardamom, curry powder, ginger and turmeric to the vegetables.  While the vegetables and spices simmer, combine the corn starch and coconut milk and stir until smooth.  Dump the coconut milk mixture into the pot with the vegetables and spices.  Let the pot return to a simmer and cook for a couple more minutes.  Return the chicken pieces to the pot, then simmer until the liquid has started to thicken (but it shouldn't be too thick and glue-y looking).   Add the raisins, almonds, and quinoa.  Turn off heat, then stir to combine everything.

Take your sheet of pastry dough and place it over the chicken and vegetables, then put it in the oven.  Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Serves 4-6

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