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MND – Winter 2: Dinner 1

February 19, 2014

boots

Warning, attempting to make this recipe will cause it to snow. Now, I’m not sure if it’s this specific recipe that causes snow – in which case you are all safe because it’s an America’s Test Kitchen test recipe and I can’t put it up online – or if it’s all chicken pot pies, in which case you might be in danger if the pictures of Dinner this week inspire in you a craving for chicken enrobed in creamy sauce topped with flaky pastry. I’ll take responsibility for three rounds of snow in Boston, but I think I won’t take on the responsibility for snow elsewhere.

unbaked pie dough

extra pie crust

This is the third time I have attempted to bake off these ‘make in advance’ pot pies. I tried the first time in December – it was meant to be the last Dinner of 2012 before I flitted off to warmer climes for Christmas. That was foiled by driving snow that hit exactly at the evening commute and caused everyone to spend hours attempting to get home, and then being generally unwilling to leave the warmth of their houses once they’d finally made it. Plus, pot pie is good but not worth risking life and limb to eat.

The second time I tried to serve this for Dinner was in mid-January. You would have thought I’d be perfectly safe planning to bake off the pot pies in the middle of the polar vortex of January’s weather, because on the rare occasions when it snowed it was so cold that the snow was basically so light and fine that you could clear your driveway with a broom. Not the week I planned for chicken pot pie, however. That week it warmed up enough to grace us with a round of heavy wet messy snow, and we cancelled Dinner in deference to everyone’s safety.

So, third time’s the charm, right? Right? I had someone’s husband actually email me last week asking me to reconsider chicken pot pie for Dinner – pointing out that it was still far enough in advance that possibly if I changed my menu plan we could avoid yet another 3-5” of snow. I laughed, but it snowed on Tuesday. However, everyone has gotten to the point where they’re tired of rearranging their lives for the weather and came to Dinner anyway. So, I rewarded their intrepid perseverance with chicken pot pie, an epically cheesy movie viewing (Lifetime’s remake of “Flowers in the Attic” – don’t judge, it’s nostalgic), and bowls of candy courtesy of the post-Valentine’s Day sales.

salad

 

Chicken Pot Pie
Extra Pie Crust for Dipping Purposes
Green Beans
Salad
Post-Valentine’s Day Candy

 

Chicken Pot Pie

I can’t give a recipe here since it’s an America’s Test Kitchen recipe that was sent to me for testing. But, I can list mysterious notes about making the recipe.

Like most America’s Test Kitchen recipes it works perfectly, and tastes like the chicken pot pie of your childhood memories. It also gets half the pans in your kitchen dirty, takes longer than you think it should, and involves a lot more butter and heavy cream than I usually deploy for a week night meal.

The theory behind this particular recipe is that you can make it in advance, presumably on some day when you have lots of time to spare – freeze it – and then bake it from frozen on a night when you need a dinner you don’t have time to prepare.

However . . .

Firstly, they say to put the filling in deep 9” disposable pie pans. Either I failed to find disposable pie pans in the requisite size, or they are delusional. I filled the pie pans I’d bought and still had cups of filling leftover, so I switched over to larger ceramic pans that I had in my cupboard.

Secondly, you bake the frozen pies for 70-90 minutes, and then let them sit for 15 minutes. So, you’re looking at a total cooking time – granted hands off cooking time – of nearly 2 hours. For me that’s not really a feasible weeknight meal. Most nights I get home at 7pm, and even if I put the pies in the oven as soon as I walk in the door, that means putting dinner on the table at almost 9pm. So, if the theory is that for the working world this is an easy way to have a home cooked meal on a night when you don’t have time to cook . . . well, clearly they think people are getting home a lot earlier than I do.

This is, actually, a complaint I have about a lot of ATK ‘weeknight’ meal recipes. They frequently require brining something for 45-60 minutes (but not more than that, so you can’t leave something marinating overnight, or during the day) before you start a further 45 minute cooking process. Or they have a 45 minute prep, and then instruct you to bake something for 45 minutes. Again, clearly they believe that people are getting home a lot earlier than I am if that seems like a feasible week night dinner.

All that being true . . . these were very good chicken pot pies, and it was in fact nice to be able to get home and throw them in the oven to do their thing while I went back outside to shovel the accumulated icey slush from the end of my driveway.

pot pie

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