Nearly two weeks into the new year, I’ve added one more New Year’s resolution to my list: 2011 will be the year I really learn how to cook. Or, at the very least, the year I really stretch myself as a cook. And the best way for me to do this is by following a structure, like working through a cookbook on a particular cuisine. (Except for The Art of French Cooking. That one has been well-covered.)
I also want it to be the year I start connecting with more food bloggers. That’s what blogging is all about, right?
As a first step I signed up for Charcutepalooza, the creation of Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen and The Yummy Mummy. Charcutepalooza is a yearlong meat-making project using recipes from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman.
I’m excited about the prospect of making 11 different types of charcuterie. (I say 11 because I’ll miss the first challenge.) But I’m really scared too.
January’s challenge, for example, is to make duck prosciutto. Cutting up one pork shoulder – and I wasn’t exaggerating when I said this one of a handful of meat dishes I’ve made in the last two decades – doesn’t prepare me to make duck, much less duck prosciutto. But hey, I’m ready to give charcuterie my best shot.
Unknowingly, I started preparing for the challenges weeks ago by making a very basic meat dish. I took a whole chicken, boiled the heck out of it, and shredded the meat to make one of my favorite dishes as a kid: chicken pot pie.
Chicken Pot Pie
I used Lucie Snodgrass’ recipe for chicken pot pie with spring peas and carrots from her book, Dishing Up Maryland: 150 Recipes From the Alleghenies to the Chesapeake Bay. But because I made it so long ago, I don’t remember everything about the process of making it.
What I do remember is that this recipe made a very heavy, dense pie that my family ate for days. They ate it even though I didn’t cook the sauce – butter, flour, half-and-half, chicken stock, wine, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper, heated over medium heat until thickened – long enough. The sauce was thin and watery when the pie came out of the oven; then, when I refrigerated the leftovers, it thickened. Also the crust was too buttery and the pie needed more salt for my tastes. I would experiment with a different crust and add more salt to the filling next time.
Food by Carrie’s recipe for Chunky Chicken Pot Pie is close to the recipe I used. (Though obviously my comments on butter and salt don’t apply to her recipe.) Here’s a few pictures of the process:
The pot pie filling is a combo of chicken, (go figure), peas, carrots, potatoes, corn, and celery:
You can see here that my sauce was thin from the start:
Before baking, I cut three slits in the upper pie crust and brushed it with milk to help it brown:
The final product, fresh from the oven: