Here you go, Meg.

CHICKEN POT PIE

The beauty of the chicken pot pie is that you get to use one of the five “mother sauces,” velouté. Make lots and put it in a squirt bottle – you can top crepes with it, spread it on a chicken pizza, use it as gravy base, add Marsala and mushrooms for a wonderful sauce …

As with everything food, it’s all about the ingredients. We cheated a bit at the Alcove – used some frozen veggies along with fresh, and used purchased puff pastry. Here’s what I say about that: if you let someone else make it for you, just make sure they use the same ingredients you would. Stock? Well, you know how it’s supposed to be made. If you use chicken or veal “base,” then just make sure you choose one without MSG and a bunch of other junk in it. OK, here we go:

Celery, diced
Mushrooms, sliced
Carrots, peeled and diced
Red onion, diced
Redskin potatoes, diced
Frozen peas, frozen green beans, or mixed frozen vegetables

Sauté raw vegetables in a little butter, and cook until softened but not mushy. Add frozen vegetables. Stir in a good amount of diced chicken. Fill a baking dish of any size to within about ½ “ of the top. It’s ok if the dish isn’t that full. Pour in veloute, made with chicken broth, to barely cover the vegetable-meat mixture.

Puff pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions
Flour
Egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp water

Roll the puff pastry sheets on a flour-dusted surface until about 1½ times the original size. Cover potpie, leaving edges of pastry to drape over the baking dish, or cut to fit. Using the point of a sharp paring knife, slash the crust, artfully or not, to let the steam escape. Dough scraps can be cut into interesting shapes and placed on top of the crust. Bottom line: treat the crust like a sculpture. Just make sure you’ve covered the filling and left openings for steam to escape. Using a pastry brush, glaze the crust with the egg yolk mixture.

Bake at 450º F until the top is nicely browned and the filling is bubbly. Lower the heat if you are baking a pot pie from the refrigerator. And if it’s frozen, let it thaw first before you bake it.

VELOUTE SAUCE

1 ¼ c. veal, chicken, or fish stock
1 ½ T. unsalted butter
1 ½ T. flour
Salt and pepper

Bring stock to a boil. Melt butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Whisk in flour. Cook until lightly browned. Let cool, then gradually whisk in hot stock. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, and simmer until stock is desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes one cup.

ROASTED CHICKEN BREASTS

Fresh or frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Herbs de Provence

I roast everything the same way. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the breast halves, flat side down if there is a flat side, on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil (just a little, maybe a teaspoon per piece of meat). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then dried herbs de Provence. If you can’t find the herbs, sprinkle with a little dried tarragon and rosemary.

Bake at 450º F. until juices run clear when pierced with a fork or thermometer reads 165º. The time will depend upon your oven, but it should be somewhere around 20 minutes. Cool, and if you’re using for pot pie, dice.

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