Chicken Pot Pie Stew

I’ve made chicken pot pie before and, good grief, it takes forever. Worth it when you have the time but I don’t always have (or want to spend) three hours to make dinner.

Thanks to the magic of the instant pot, you can now have all the amazingness of chicken pot pie in 35 minutes or so. And–for bonus points–only one dish to clean.  Sounds like a perfect weeknight dinner to me!  You can even cook this using frozen chicken breasts for an even easier meal.

While I was cooking this, my entire house smelled like Thanksgiving thanks to the poultry seasoning and aromatics.

I served mine with some puff pastry but this would be equally great with garlic toast, cornbread, or even a hunk of baguette.

Everyone loved loved it and my kid even ate a bunch of the vegetables. That’s a win for sure.  This delivers all the flavor of a “for real” chicken pot pie with almost no fuss.  The chicken is tender and flavorful from being cooked in the broth and the vegetables are still flavorful and non-mushy since they are added at the end.  I doubt I will make any changes next time–except maybe skipping the hours of prep involved in making puff pastry from scratch but that is a whole other post!

Chicken Pot Pie Stew

  • 3 large chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1/2 bag frozen cut green beans
  • 2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. flour

Set your Instant Pot to saute and add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery along with the oil. Add salt and pepper as well as the poultry seasoning during cooking.  Cook until the vegetables have just begun to soften.    Then add the stock (carefully!) and the chicken.  I used thawed chicken.  If you want to cook  from frozen, add a few minutes to the cook time.  Use the poultry setting for 15 minutes.  Quick release.

Remove the cooked chicken and set aside to cool.  Set your IP to the saute setting and add the frozen vegetables.  If you are in a hurry, you can microwave them for a few minutes to reduce the cooking time in the IP.  Bring the liquid back up to a boil.  Mix the cream with the flour, then add to the IP.  Dice the chicken and return it to the pot.  Allow it to cook for roughly 5 minutes to thicken very slightly.

 

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa

I may be terrible at blogging consistently but I can apparently grow cilantro like nobody’s business!  It is crowding out my chives and basil, so I’ve been trying to use it up as quickly as it can grow. 

  
This recipe doesn’t use much cilantro but the flavor really comes through. Along with cilantro, it uses just a few basics, so it sure is quick and easy!  

  
I love lime, so I use about 1/2 a lime’s worth of zest but if you don’t love lime, you can just use the juice. 

  
I cut my chicken breasts into strips. You could use any cut of chicken here that you like. I always have skinless boneless breasts in the freezer so they are a frequent ingredient for me. 

Stick it in the fridge for a couple of hours while you ponder cooking methods. You can bake, pan fry, or grill this chicken. 

  
I opted to grill because grilled food is the best food! 

Overall, this was A+ superdelicious! The chicken was super flavorful from the lime, garlic, and herbs. The avocado salsa was the perfect compliment. Next time, I might add a little bit of jalepeno to make the salsa a little more salsa-y but if you aren’t a spicy food fan, this is fresh and delicious as is. It was also quick and easy to put together as long as you have a little time to wait for the marinade. 

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa

Marinade:

1/4 cup olive oil

4 tablespoons cilantro

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 heaping tsp red pepper flakes

Zest of half a lime

Juice of a lime

1 tsp salt

A few grinds of fresh black pepper

Salsa:

1 avocado, diced

1-2 tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup red onion, diced

Juice from 1/2 lime

Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the marinade and add 2 large chicken breasts, each cut into 2-3 pieces. Marinate at least 20 minutes or up to a few hours. 

Remove the chicken from the marinade. Cook the chicken as you wish–grill, roast, or pan fry. 

While the chicken is cooking, assemble the salsa.  When the chicken is done, serve with the salsa. 

  

Instant Pot Chicken Tacos

Like a meal in an instant pot, an instant pot post should be quick and easy, right?

   
Frozen chicken. 


Chicken tacos. 30 minutes. It doesn’t get much easier than this. 
Chicken Tacos

2 Frozen chicken breasts. 

3/4 cup of your favorite salsa

1 tablespoon of taco seasoning or dried chili powder/cumin mix

Salt and pepper. 

Set your instant pot on the poultry setting and increase the time to 30 minutes to account for your chicken being frozen. Set the pressure to high. 

Once it’s done, do a quick release. Remove the chicken to a bowl and shred it. Add some more salsa and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with taco fixins. 

Boom. Dinner from the freezer in 30 minutes. 

 

Pork Burnt Ends

You know when you make smoked ribs and those outer portions are super charred and smokey?  With all the rub and bark on them?  Those are the best parts.  Crispy and porky and decidedly a long-smoked delicacy.

  Sadly, there just aren’t that many of those bites on ribs.
  But what if ALL the bites were like that?  Can it be done?  Yes.  Yes it can.  Smoked pork burnt ends to save the day.  They are dead easy (even easier than my usual rib recipe) and make the perfect party food to feed a crowd.  If I was having a Super Bowl party this year, these would definitely be on the menu.
  There are two good methods to make these and I’ve tried both.  You’ll need to either get a pork shoulder if you are in the mood to spend a decent amount of time cutting it into slices or, if you are in a hurry, track down “boneless country style ribs” at your grocery store.  Then the butcher will do all the work for you.  You will, however, pay for their time in the price difference.  The method couldn’t be easier.  Rub the slices all over with rub and smoke them for a few hours.  You can use any rub you like but my favorite is from Myron Mixon’s book.  It makes a great bark and it is nice and spicy with two entire tablespoons of cayenne in it.  I have routinely done half this amount when we have guests (hi Mom!) that don’t like as much spice and it is still delicious.

 

Then remove them, let them cool enough to handle, dice them, and finish them in the oven.  They’ve gotten all the smoke they can, so it is an easy shortcut to take.
  After a few hours, voila.  burnt ends.  Use them to make a sandwich or just gobble them up with a fork.  Or burn your fingers and mouth eating them right as they come out of the oven.  Not that I would ever do something like that.

Pork Burnt Ends

  • 1 Pork shoulder, cut into chunky slices OR a few packages of boneless country style ribs.
  • 1 recipe rub
  • barbecue sauce of your choice (we like sweet baby ray’s)

The Rub:

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne powder
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

stir it all up until it is well blended.  I use almost an entire recipe of the mix for pork burnt ends but I sometimes have a little leftover.  It is fabulous on chicken as well!

Prepare your smoker while you prep your pork.  All you need to do is liberally spread the rub on your pork slices.  Smoke them for a few hours, after which they will be cooked but not tender.  Allow them to cool enough to handle and then dice them into bite size pieces.  Toss them with some barbecue sauce and put them in your oven at 250.  How long will depend on your pork and how charred you like them.  I usually leave mine in for at least 2 hours until they are super dark and barky.

 

Chicken Pot Pie

I am of a certain generation that cannot think of chicken pot pie without thinking of Cartman from South Park.  I didn’t even really like that show but yet the most popular lines from the show were basically everywhere for several years.  Good grief, I feel sorry for anyone named Kenny during that time.  In the end, I have to say, I am on Cartman’s side when it comes to pot pie–don’t touch my chicken pot pie.

 

This isn’t a dish I make often because it does require quite a bit of prep and a lot of steps but the elements can be made ahead and assembled just before baking if you want a faster weeknight meal.  Its also a great way to use up leftover chicken.  I always roast two chickens when I’m making one for dinner–it doesn’t require any more time really and then you have cooked chicken ready for a dish like this (or soup!).

The key to making a quick (relatively, anyway) chicken pot pie is all in the mise en place.  Get everything out and ready to go so you can work quickly.  You don’t want your vegetables overcooking while you are trying to get the milk out of the fridge and measured.  That way lies madness–so get everything chopped, measured, and ready to go before you turn on the burner.

 

 

 

If you aren’t using leftover chicken, you’ll need to cook yours up.  It isn’t necessary to fully cook the chicken at this stage though–the carryover heat as well as the 40+minutes in the oven will finish it off for you.  Just get it so the outside isn’t pink any longer.

Then, remove the chicken and cook the rest of the filling.  All the veg and spices go in together with a little bit of vegetable oil.  Let them cook for a few minutes (again, we aren’t looking for done here, just started).  When the onions are translucent, its time to make the gravy.

I like to make a well in the middle of the vegetables so I can keep an eye on the butter.  Allow it to just melt, then dump in the flour.

It will be a pasty mess.  Its ok.  Just stir it around as best you can without mushing all your vegetables up.  Make sure all the flour has been moistened and let it cook for a few minutes to turn it from yucky raw flour taste to a more lovely nutty taste.

Then add your milk/stock mixture and stir continuously.  It will be very soupy for a while and then, like magic, it will thicken.  Its almost ready here.  Once it coats the back of the spoon and holds a sharp line when you run your finger across it, its done.  Turn off the heat because its time to make a Rough Puff Pastry.  Cube your (very cold) butter and add it to the flour/salt mixture.  Try to handle everything as little as possible as we are trying to keep it cold.  I put my bowl for this in the freezer for an hour or so while I was working on the filling.

With a pastry cutter (or a bench scraper), chop the butter into the flour until the pieces are almond sized.  Then, add the ice water 2 tblsp at a time until the dough just barely comes together.  You can do this with a spoon in a cold bowl or on your counter, whichever you prefer.  Working with your bench scraper and rolling pin, you want to roll/beat out the dough into a rectangle (about 8×10), then fold it in thirds as you would a letter.  Then turn it 90 degrees and repeat 3x.  This is what creates all the little layers in your crust.

 


This might get hard as the dough tightens up, just do the best you can.  Once youve made 4 or so folds, fold it one more time to be a small rectangle.  Wrap it in cling film and allow it to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.  While that is resting, you can decide if you want one large pie or several small individual ones.  I opted for a large pie but you’ll need 4 16 oz ramekins for individual sized.

 

Roll out your pastry and use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut one large or four small circles about 1 inch larger than your dishes.  Fill the dishes with the filling and then brush the pastry with the egg wash.  put the egg wash side down on the filling and then egg wash the top.

 

Time for the oven!

If you make one large pie, you’ll have to kind of dish out the filling since this is on the thin side.  After opting for a large pie, I wish I had made several smaller ones to avoid the messy filling issue.  The taste however?  Amazing.  Tender chicken, tasty vegetables, and a super flaky buttery crust on top.

 

Chicken Pot Pie with Rough Puff

Adapted from Alton Brown’s Recipe

Filling:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick

4 ounces fresh green beans, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 medium celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 ounces unsalted butter
3 ounces all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature
6 ounces frozen green peas

Pastry Crust:
10 ounces bread flour
2 ounces whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon fine kosher salt
10 ounces unsalted butter, cubed and frozen
12 tablespoons ice water

Egg Wash:
1 large egg beaten
1 tablespoon water

Directions

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.

For the filling: Place 1 tablespoon vegetable oil into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and set over high heat until it shimmers. Add the chicken, season with 1 teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside but not dry, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside in a medium bowl.

Decrease the heat to medium and heat the remaining tablespoon vegetable oil in the skillet until it shimmers. Add the onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery, green beans, garlic, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, black pepper, dried thyme, and dried tarragon, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Make a well in the center and add the butter and melt. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the chicken broth and milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring continually. Continue stirring until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the peas, thyme, tarragon, and reserved chicken. Cover and set aside.

For the crust: Combine the bread flour, whole wheat flour, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Place in the freezer for 1 hour.

Place the flour mixture and butter in a mound on a clean work surface. Use a bench scraper to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of almonds. Add the ice water, 2 tablespoons at a time, and mix into the dough, using the bench scraper, until it just barely comes together. Do not add too much water, it will come together.

Shape into a rectangle and pound with a rolling pin until it is about the size of a sheet of notebook paper, approximately 8 1/2 by 11 inches.

Use the bench scraper to fold the dough into thirds, like a letter. Pound with the rolling pin until the piece of dough is again the size of a sheet of notebook paper and rotate 90 degrees. Repeat the pounding, folding, and rotating 2 more times for a total of 4 turns of the dough.

Pound with rolling pin and fold the shorter sides of the rectangle in towards the center, from top to bottom, and then fold in half, like a book. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the egg wash: Combine the beaten egg and water in a small dish and set aside.

To build the pie: Divide the warm filling into 4 (16-ounce) ramekins and place on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  (I made a large single pie and regret not making several smaller ones as the pastry would have been better if it had been smaller and puffed more in the center.

Remove the puff pastry from the refrigerator. Divide in half. Return one half to the refrigerator. Sprinkle lightly with flour and roll to 1/4-inch thick and, using your ramekins as a guide, cut 2 circles that are 1/2 inch wider than the rim, using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Refrigerate excess dough for another use.

Brush each dough round with egg wash and place egg washed-side down onto the top of each filled ramekin. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to 400 degrees F and bake until the crust is puffed and golden brown and the filling is bubbly, another 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts

What? Something savory? Other than pizza? Its crazy, I know but I do actually both make and eat things that do not contain sugar.  Sometimes.  Usually every day.

The problem is that I find a lot of savory food kind of boring.  Skinless boneless chicken breasts?  Again? Ugh.  I’d rather have a muffin.  I’m always up for a more interesting way to prepare those things I make for dinner; adding bacon is almost always a no brainer way to accomplish this.

 

 

 

This chicken recipe uses a basic rub–brown sugar, spices, salt, etc on brined chicken breasts.  Then, you wrap them in a few slices of bacon and cook them up!  I had every intention of putting these on my smoker but ran out of time in the day and ended up putting them in the oven.

 

Even with this cop out, they were still delicious!  Dinner guest worthy even!   The chicken was moist and flavorful thanks to the brine and spice rub (and being basted in rendering bacon fat doesn’t hurt!).  I served them with green beans and some garlic toast made from my favorite easy sourdough loaf.

 

The Brine:

4 cups of cold water

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

 

The Rub (makes enough for 4 chicken breasts but make a double or triple batch while you have everything out.  It stores well):

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons brown sugar

The Assembly:

regular sliced bacon (3-4 slices per breast)

toothpicks

 

Brine the chicken for at least 1 hour but preferably closer to 4.  Remove from brine and rub with the spice mixture.  Lay 3-4 strips of bacon next to each other (depending on the side of your chicken breasts).  Roll the chicken, wrapping the bacon strips around as you go.  Secure with toothpicks if necessary.

Arrange on a metal rack on a sheet pan and roast at 350 until the chicken registers 165 and the bacon is crisp.

 

Battle Pizza Crust: Smitten Kitchen’s Rushed Crust

I know what you are thinking–does this girl make anything other than pizza and baked goods?  I do–really–but dinner is often a rushed affair after school and work. Midday baking is so much more luxurious and blog worthy…  I promise though–I do feed my children things other than muffins and cookies.

Most nights are busy but sometimes they are extra busy.  We had parent teacher conferences at 5:30 and someone (me) forgot to make a pizza dough ahead of time. Oops.  Smitten kitchen to the rescue!  I’d seen her two doughs in her book last time I flipped through it. A rushed dinner seemed the perfect opportunity for the rushed dough recipe. With just 30 minutes of rise time, I could have dinner done in under an hour.

The dough was perfect–I made it in about 3 minutes as my mom and I chatted before she left. Just a few basic ingredients in this one.

After the rise, I was able to stretch this dough out into an amazingly thin crust. There weren’t any breaks though I did have some very thin spots that I patched a little.  Mine was a little on the wet side but I didn’t want to add any flour and gave a sad dry crust, so I just let it be.

Top and bake!  I always bake my pizzas on the cast iron pizza pan I keep in my oven. I use it for breads and pizzas to help give them a nice crust on the bottom.

This pizza was…amazing. Chewy, super thin, crispy in the right places. And fast!  If you are in the mood for a thin crust pizza–this is your dough.   Now I’m super curious to try out her other crust option that allows for a longer, less rushed rise time.

 

Rushed Pizza Crust

From Smitten Kitchen’s Cookbook

 

1/2 cup warm water

1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for rolling

1 tsp salt

olive oil, for coating bowl (I used cooking spray)

 

Turn your oven up to 200 degrees (or a warm setting if you have it) for 5 minutes. Then, turn it off.

Add water to large mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes or until foamy. Add flour, followed by the salt, and stir with a wooden spoon until dough begins to come together. It will look sort of shaggy and rough but that is ok.

Turn dough and any loose bits out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it comes together and forms a smooth dough.  It will only take a few minutes.

Coat the inside of a large mixing bowl with olive oil or cooking spray and then place dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and place in your oven (which you heated in step 1) and let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Once doubled, take it out of the oven and start preheating for your pizza baking temperature (I like 450).  Remove the dough from bowl and roll dough out into your desired shape, top and bake.

Battle Pizza Crust: No Knead Bread Dough

I usually have a bucket of the basic no-knead recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day in my fridge. It is super easy to mix up, lasts a long time, and is my back up bread dough for those days when the fancy bread is stale and I need to make sandwiches for school lunches. Its a good, solid bread dough and really helped launch me into a love of bread baking.

  
Could it be a decent pizza crust?

I have tried this a few times now and come to the conclusion that its “pretty ok” It is better than a frozen pizza or most chain pizza delivery places. I’d put it solidly above the dominoes/papa johns type delivery but below a really great local pizza place. What it lacks in amazingness, it sure does make up for in speed. I had a pizza assembled and ready to cook before my oven was even preheated!

This isn’t my favorite pizza dough by any means but, if you already have some in the fridge, it makes a great speedy dinner option. Its a little bland and could probably greatly benefit by either brushing some melted butter on the edge or sprinkling some Parmesan cheese on it before baking. It was a little hard to get it stretched into a thin enough crust so mine was extra thick. This dough doesn’t have the same elasticity as a good pizza crust has so you have to kind of mush it and stretch it into shape rather than stretch it in the air. This inconsistency in thickness also meant there were some bulges and bubbles in the crust as it baked, so my toppings slid around a little.

  
Overall, I’d give it a B-. Its ok for a quick meal during a football game but its not a crust I’d break out if I had company over.

No Knead Bread Dough

24 ounces lukewarm water
2 pounds AP Flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast

Combine all ingredients in a large (very large) bowl. I use a 6 quart dough bucket. Mix until the flour is all incorporated, then allow to rise for 2 hours. Either bake from it then, or refrigerate until ready to use.

To use, lightly flour the surface of the dough. Grab a large handful (about a grapefruit size makes a nice loaf) and lop off or tear it. Gently shape into a loaf and allow to rise on the counter for 40 minutes. About halfway through the rise time, heat the oven to 450. Slash the top of the loaf and put it in the oven on a baking stone, if you have one. Bake until golden brown (time will depend on size of loaf).

To use as pizza crust: lop off a similar amount and shape into a circle on a piece of parchment paper. Gently stretch and work the dough into a vaguely pizza like shape, trying to maintain an even thickness. Top and bake immediately for a thinner crust or allow to rise for 40 minutes before topping for a thicker crust.

Battle Pizza Crust: Beer Crust Part 2

Straight from the freezer–to my piehole!

When I originally made the Beer Crust Pizza, I froze half of the dough since one pizza is really plenty for us.

After a week or so of waiting in there, I pulled it out in the morning and let it thaw in the fridge for dinner that day. It thawed easily and was, as most pizza crusts are after being frozen and thawed, a little wetter/stickier than it was when it was fresh. It was a little more difficult to shape given the stickiness. I ended up stretching it on the sheet pan rather than my usual in the air using my knuckles method.

You’d never know there was any difference in the feel of the dough after it baked up–crispy on the bottom and super flavorful with the beer and Parmesan cheese in the dough. It is the kind of crust that has enough going on that I–a naked crust hater–ate them up!

Next time I make a batch of this, I may try a double batch so I have three portions in the freezer. It seriously is faster than making a frozen pizza and much more delicious!

Toasted Ravioli

  

Honestly, I don’t know why these are called toasted ravioli because they certainly aren’t toasted in any way. Fried ravioli would be accurate but maybe that isn’t as sexy and exciting as “toasted”. Regardless, these are something any St. Louis native would recognize but they don’t seem to have made it to nation-wide recognition yet. That is a shame because you are missing out if you haven’t had these!
If you have ever fried anything, this recipe will be a cinch. If you haven’t fried anything before, this will be a great place to start. 
You can work with ravioli straight from the freezer. I used round cheese ravioli but my sister in law from St Louis insisted they should be square meat ravioli. I say use what you have and like. 
Crack a few eggs in a bowl and add a little milk or buttermilk to thin the mixture. Add some salt and pepper and beat the eggs for a minute.  In another bowl, season some breadcrumbs with some salt and pepper. 

  
Dredge the ravioli in the egg mixture, then the breadcrumbs a few at a time.  When you are close to complete, begin heating 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot with high sides. 

  
Once the oil is close to 400 degrees, add a few ravioli (one or two at a time). I put them on a slotted spoon and lower them in because I’m not into oil splash burns. 

Cook for about 90 seconds (more or less–this will depend on the size of your ravioli). Lay them to drain on paper towel while you finish the batch. 

Serve with warmed marinara sauce.