Jeanette - Off The Cuff

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Blogger at: and -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Anyone remember David Cross singing "Chicken-pot, chicken-pot, chicken-pot-piiiiiie" on "Just Shoot Me" ...? It's kind of an obscure reference, but it makes me laugh every time I think of it.

Now then, some disclaimers.

1. I'm a pretty decent cook, but I'm a mess when it comes to pie crust. This one actually turned out quite okay taste and texture wise, but it was hard to roll out and kept splitting apart. Nine out of ten times, I get a store-bought rolled pie crust for my quiches and pies, because well, it's $4 toward me not having a meltdown in the kitchen. Trader Joe's has a good one that I like which is not full of weird synthetic ingredients. However, I was not at TJ's yesterday so instead I opted to make my own crust, and I used the recipe in this book Good Kitchen Magic which I think should make a good crust in theory. My trouble is that I don't usually get the dough to bind together with the first 2 tablespoons of water as they say. Sometimes even the 3rd tablespoon of water doesn't do the trick so maybe I'm using too much flour. Who knows. Either way, I won't chide you for using a store-bought crust, because I do it all the time myself.

2. This is NOT a quick meal. It can be made significantly faster with a few shortcuts, which I'll put in parentheses next to directions or ingredients. Of course, as with any of my recipes, alterations are often necessary.

3. Even though I know my way around a DSLR, it is January in the Pacific Northwest, and rather gray, and I have no window light in my kitchen, and it was dark outside anyway, so I have done my best to get some good photos with my tripod and bounced light.

4. Because of the multiple steps and ingredients, read this all the way through before starting the recipe so you see the way I split up my directions and ingredients.

5. This recipe can make two 6-inch pies, (I made my pies in cast-iron skillets) or one larger 9-inch pie either in a skillet or in a glass pie dish, so you'll divide up your dough and filling accordingly. 

Thus, I present you with Chicken-Bacon-Pot-Pie.


2 cups white flour
4 oz cold butter cut into chunks
2-3 tbsp cold water
1 pinch of salt

Using a pastry cutter or blender, work/pulse the cold butter into the flour and salt, until it is grainy and distributed evenly. Add a couple of tablespoons of water, and knead / pulse it together until it binds and makes a ball. (The third spoon of water may need to be added. I had to add a 4th. What's my deal?) Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until later.

Two cups of flour to start.

Pure Irish Butter. Don't confuse with Irish Spring, which is soap.

Cube up the butter in the flour

Work the butter into the flour

Add in 2-3 tbsp cold water

Make a doug-ball and refrigerate, wrapped in plastic

4-5 strips of cooked bacon (see my preferred method within the directions)
1 1/2 cups cooked boneless, skinless chicken (I used 3 thighs because they're so savory) [Shortcut: If you have had a roasted / baked / rotisserie chicken, a couple of nights prior, set aside meat for this meal.]
1 red bell pepper, diced into bite-size pieces
2-3 stalks celery, cleaned and sliced into small pieces
3-4 small yellow potatoes (precooked and cubed, or pre-cubed and steamed)
1 bunch green onions / scallions

Choppin' celeryyyyyyyyyy

All the single veggies...

Once your pie crust is chilling in the fridge, wash and cube the potatoes (skin on) and cook them in a double boiler / steam basket for about 15 minutes until fork tender. If you already had precooked potatoes from a previous meal, cube them up and set them aside in a bowl.

If you don't have precooked bacon, preheat your oven to 375, and line a cooking sheet with foil and lay the bacon out on it and bake for 15-25 minutes until browned and quite crisp. Keep an eye on it. It will burn fast at the end.

Uncooked bacon waiting for a tan in the oven
Spoon off some of the bacon grease into a skillet and "sweat" the peppers, green onions and celery over medium heat until softened. Set aside veggies in the bowl with the potatoes.

Sweat those vegetables. Turn on the Oldies station.

Next, cook your raw chicken in a preheated skillet with oil, until browned on each side, and then quickly transfer them to a plate or cutting board, and cut them up into smaller pieces. Once cut, finish cooking them in the skillet, and then set the chicken aside as well with the potatoes and veggies. If you are using precooked chicken, just shred it or cube it and add it to your bowl.

Browning the chicken

When the bacon is done, set aside 4-5 strips to crumble on top of each pie before the top layer of dough goes on.

Cooked bacon. Don't eat it all before the pie is done.

Next up, cut the pie dough either into 4 pieces or 2 pieces depending on if you're making two smaller 6" pies or one bigger 9" pie.

Divide dough into 4 pieces for two 6" pies

Carefully roll each chunk on a smooth surface with a rolling pin into rounds that are about 1/8" thick.

Roll out dough
Layer one piece of dough in the bottom of the skillet(s) or glass pie dish.

Layer one piece of dough in bottom of skillets

Using a spatula, gently lift one disc and lay it in the bottom of a cast-iron skillet or pie dish, and add half of the filling. (If you have some left over veggies that won't fit in the pie crust, save it for a country breakfast with eggs in the morning!

Top off with remaining ingredients
Repeat with second skillet / pie dish for pie #2. (If you are only making one pie in a bigger pie dish, then obviously you're only rolling out the two halves and not four, and using all of the pie filling.)

2-3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2-2/3rd cup milk (a little less if you use liquid chicken broth in next step)
1/2 tsp "Better than Bouillon" chicken base or 1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 to 1 tsp Dijon mustard
Dash of white ground pepper

ROUX DIRECTIONS: Start making the Roux in the same skillet that you fried the chicken and veggies in, to meld all the flavors together. First add the butter and melt it over medium heat. Scrape the bottom with a metal spatula to dislodge any browned bits of chicken into the butter. Using a metal whisk, add 1 tbsp of flour at a time into the butter, and without letting it clump up, slowly pour dribbles of milk while whisking until a smooth consistency develops.

Voulez-roux? A-ha... Take it now or leave it.

Stir in a dash of white pepper, mustard, and the scoop of Chicken-base, or 1/4 cup of chicken broth. Add a little more milk or broth if necessary. Simmer on low until thickened, which should only take a minute or so. Remove from heat.

Add roux to top of each pie

Add roux over the pie-fillings in equal amounts (for two pies) or pour it all on for one pie.Add top layer of dough to pie(s) and cut a few steam vents with a sharp knife. Bake in the oven at 375 for 15-25 minutes until browned on top and you can see steam / bubbling happening.

Fresh out of the oven. Not so pretty, but really good!

Serve in the skillet on trivets for a fun presentation, or cut out each portion with a pie server. Be careful, the skillet retains heat for a long time!

All photos and text, Off the Cuff Cooking ©2015

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