Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tarragon Chicken-in-a-Pot Pies

Figuring out what kind of bread to use for these little pot pies posed me no little consternation - and I will fill you in on the details below.  However, I'm glad I went through the effort, because the resulting dinner was amazing both in terms of taste and presentation.

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plain non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup vegan chicken broth (such as Imagine)
  • 1/2 cup vegan dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2/3 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 3 Gardein Tuscan chicken breasts (without sauce)
  • 1 cup sliced carrot
  • 1 cup (1/8-inch thick) sliced zucchini
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 (4-ounce) country or peasant rolls*
1. Place the flour in a bowl, and slowly add the milk, stirring with a whisk.  Doing so forms a "slurry," which is any mixture of a water and a starch that acts as a thickening agent in cooking.  Add the chicken broth and the white wine; set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Chop the Gardein chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the pan, along with the onion; saute for 2 minutes.  Stir in the carrot, zucchini, salt, tarragon, and black pepper; cover, reduce heat, and cook for 4 minutes.  Stir in the prepared slurry.  Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened (it will take anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes), stirring occasionally.

3. Cut the rolls horizontally about 1 inch from the top.  Hollow out the bottoms of the rolls, leaving a 1/4-inch thick shell.  Set aside the torn bread and the bread tops for another use.

Note: one great idea is to pulse them in a food processor and make breadcrumbs, which you can then store in the freezer for up to 6 months, for the next time you feel inspired to top casseroles or stuff veggies with fresh crumbs.

4. Place 1 bread shell on each of 4 plates, and spoon about 1 cup of the chicken mixture into each bread shell.  Serve this entree with romaine and radicchio lettuce tossed in bottled salad dressing on the side, and you'll have a complete meal.

For a fun dessert, try these quick caramel-coconut sundaes: sprinkle 1/4 cup flaked coconut (such as Let's Do Organic) on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees until golden brown - about 6-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Place 1/2 cup of your favorite vanilla non-dairy ice cream in each of 4 dessert bowls.  Drizzle each serving with 1 tablespoon caramel syrup (try the one from FlavOrganics) and sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon of the toasted coconut. 

*Ok, so about those bread rolls.  I first wanted to know what the recipe meant by country or peasant rolls, since both of those have such a broad definition.  One can find packaged country rolls in a grocery store, but they are usually small (about 2 ounces) and quite soft.  Online definitions seem to suggest that a peasant roll is a catch-all term for anything that is not Italian bread or French baguette.  I decided that the 4-ounce requirement was more important than the type of bread, since it had to be big enough to hold 1 cup of the chicken mixture.  My branch of Whole Foods sells big 4 ounce vegan kaiser rolls from a company called Bread Alone, and I was nearly all set to buy those - until I decided a kaiser roll was too soft and would fall apart in a pot pie sauce.  I decided it was time to hit fresh bakeries and see if they sold big, crusty "country" roles that also happened to be vegan.

My destination was Amy's Bread, and my hunch was correct.  There they were: country sourdough sandwich rolls, nice and big at 4 ounces, and with a vegan ingredient list.  Hurrah!  My problems were solved.  So my suggestion to you is to hit up your local baker.  Amy's Bread also sells some of their products online, so you might check out their website.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (1 pot pie), Calories 413 

Tasting Notes:
These got yummier with each bite.  At first taste I thought the chicken filling was a little bland; but the tarragon began coming through more and more; the longer the bread shell soaked up the sauce, the yummier the whole thing got.  Add to that how beautiful this was in terms of presentation, and how fun to eat, and it is a sure winner.


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