I’ll admit that January isn’t my favorite month. Between the post-holiday let down, the clean-up, the frigid temps & cloudy days, I sometimes wish I could channel my inner bear and hibernate until the spring air wafts past my sleeping nose. Yet, year after year, as hard as I try to be bear-like, I’m reminded that hibernating isn’t an option. I am simply human and must forge ahead.
In my effort to keep that darned “glass” half full, I have a Sunday afternoon ritual. I light a fire in the hearth, turn on some music (Thank you Santa for my Sonos – it’s life-changing and even, at times, sanity-saving), clean off my desk and turn on the stove. Sure, 90% of my days are spent on the sweet side of my kitchen but, during these wintery months, I spend a fair amount of time over on the savory side stirring up stews, soups and sautes. I really do. Of course, my family, used to days full of sweets, usually make cracks like ” wow.. I forgot you knew how to cook ‘real’ food” but their voices are soon quieted by the warmth in their bellies. Their silent, appreciative smiles are reward enough.
Today will be no different. With Ms T headed back to school and it is just me and Joe listening to some tunes (Joe prefers the classics on Sundays but you should hear what he listens to on the other days… crazy.), I’ll clean off my desk (OK..somewhat clean off my desk. judge-free zone, please), and head to the savory side to cooked up one of my easiest skillet stews – chicken paprikash. Sure, the stew is great on it’s own or served over egg noodles but I like to plunk the rich, thick & chunky stew into bowls and top each with an easy-peasy pate brissee and bake ’em up just before dinner. It just feels more homey and comforting. If I don’t have all for of us humans home for dinner, I wrap the extra, unbaked crock-o-pies and tuck ’em into the freezer and pull them out as needed. Nothing quite like a hot meal at-the-ready.
Here’s hoping your glass is always half full. Cheers.
ps… While this isn’t an official #Baketogether recipe, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t treat it like one. Go for it. Spin the stew anyway you like. Throw in more stuff (beans are nice and so are hot chilies) or take out some stuff (don’t like ‘srooms? toss ’em, I say.). As for the crust, here are a few thoughts. Have fun!
Optional flavors for the crust:
Add one of the following ingredients to the flour and salt mixture:
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounce) finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs (be sure that the herbs are VERY dry or you’ll add too much moisture to the dough)
A couple of process-y shots:
Here you’ll see that I’ve rolled and cut the dough to fit my wide-mouth bowls and I’ve used the butt end of a pastry tip to punch out a hole for the steam to escape while they bake. Adjust the pastry circle’s dimensions to suit your bowls and use whatever you like to cut the dough. X marks the spot works well too.
I bake the stew-filled bowls on a foil lined baking sheet to catch any drippings. For me, clean-up needs to be easy – I do enough dishes in a day. You can also see how I’ve pushed the dough down into the the bowl. This allows the excess to fare up around the edges. All that’s left to do is press this 1/2 inch or so of dough against the sides of the bowl.
Chicken Paprikash Pot Pies
Makes 4 servings.
For the Pot Pie Crust:
1 1/3 cup (6 ounces) all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 8 slices, well chilled
2 tablespoons cold water
For the Chicken Paprikash:
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and Pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
6 small mushrooms (4 ounces), quartered
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine, chicken broth or water
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes (NOT drained)
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
To make the Pot Pie Crust:
1. Combine the flour and salt in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until just blended, about 3 seconds. Add the butter and pulse until the butter pieces are slightly larger than pea size, about 10 to 12 pulses depending on your machine. Drizzle the water over the mixture. Pulse until the dough begins to form moist crumbs that are just beginning to clump together, about 8 or 9 more pulses depending on your machine..
2. Dump the moist crumbs onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gather into a pile. With the heel of you hand, push and gently smear the dough away from you until the crumbs come together. Two or three ‘smears’ should do the trick. Using the plastic wrap as a guide, shape the dough into a 4-inch square. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours, or up to 2 days. The dough can also be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw in the frig overnight or on the countertop for about 1 hour before rolling.
To make the Chicken Paprikash:
1. Add the oil to the skillet and heat over medium high heat. Sprinkle the chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper. Add the thighs to the skillet and cook 4 to 5 minutes until browned on the bottom. Using tongs, turn the thighs over and continue cooking until browned about another 4 or 5 minutes. Using the tongs, move the thighs to a plate and set aside.
2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chopped onion, pepper and mushrooms to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently with the metal spoon, until tender and browned at the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Sprinkle the paprika and garlic over the veggies and cook, stirring constantly, until the veggies are coated, about 45 seconds. Add the white wine. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and chicken thighs and stir until blended. Reduce the heat to medium-low and partially cover the skillet with a lid. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 18 to 20 minutes.
4. In the small mixing bowl, stir together the sour cream and flour until smooth. When chicken is cooked, remove the lid and, using a spoon, break/pull the chicken into pieces. Scrape the sour cream mixture into the skillet and stir until blended. Boil 1 minute, stirring frequently, until liquid is thickened. Taste and season the mixture with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside to cool complete or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days before continuing with the recipe.
To assemble the Pot Pie:
1. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Heat to 425°F. Evenly divide the mixture into four, 2-cup heat-proof bowls or crocks and, if hot, set aside to cool.
2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and set aside for 5 minutes to soften slightly. On a lightly floured surface or between two parchment sheets, roll out the dough. Lightly flour and turn the dough frequently while rolling until it is slightly thinner than 1/4-inch. With a large, round cookie cutter (or using a plate as a guide), cut 4 dough circles that are slightly wider than the inner diameter of the bowls (re-roll the scraps if necessary). Cut a small circle or X in the center of each circle. Cover each stew with a round, pressing the the extra dough around the edges so that it comes up the sides of the pan.
The pot pie can be baked immediately or it can be covered and refrigerated for one day. Arrange the pot pie on a foil-lined half sheet pan (to catch any bubbling drippings). Bake until the filling is bubbling and the crust is deep golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes.