My Big Lesson Learned from America’s Worst Cooks (and a Homemade Pot Pie Recipe)

My Big Lesson Learned from America’s Worst Cooks (and a Homemade Pot Pie Recipe)
It may be no secret to you, but I'm a big fan of cooking. From shows like Julia Child's "The Art of French Cooking" and PBS's "America's Test Kitchen" to the Fannie Farmer, Better Crocker, and Martha Stewart cookbooks and from Emerill's "Bam!" to Rachael's "Yum-o!" I'm a cooking fiend when it comes to delightful meals. My art is cooking - I cannot draw, but Nick can surely cook.
I have recently been entranced by the show "America's Worst Cook" on the Food Network. For twenty-some years, I've grown up with the Food Network, and I'm a little forlorn at the loss of actual cooking shows, since they've all moved to daytime and moved competition shows into primetime, but this show drew me in. If you haven't seen it, this show brings together two teams under the tutelage of two master-class chefs who teach them how to cook.

I'm lucky that I grew up in a household where cooking was passed from generation to generation. We always sat down to Sunday supper, and most times, I was the one in the kitchen with my mom, just helping out. It's still one of my favorite traditions today. However, as accomplished of a chef as I feel some days, the things they were cooking on this show just blew me away. They made masterful dishes like lobster, raviolo al uovo, and even panna cotta. These things are not easy, in fact, even I find some of them intimidating.
As I watched the show, inspiration struck: why wasn't I trying the things I wanted to cook? Because I was too afraid to try. But if these novice cooks could go on national television and try something new, so could I.
I've always loved chicken pot pies. But I don't love the sodium gut-bomb from the box, and I'm always afraid of making pie dough. I'm not a confident baker; I never claimed to be. So what better thing to try than homemade chicken pot pies, from scratch, direct to my Sunday supper table?

Chicken Pot Pie

I got started with my pie crust after I learned so much from the Plum Deluxe perfect pie crust.
I adapted it a little by adding some essential savory ingredients, a tablespoon each:
• sage
• thyme
• rosemary
• pepper
and two small pinches of kosher salt.
Then, just wrap it in some plastic film and toss in the fridge for at least an hour while you start on your oh-so-delicious pie filling:

  • 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs - cubed
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup milk

Prepare 5 & 1/2 inch ramekins by greasing and flouring the inside of each.
Divide your pie crust mixture in half and roll out - cut enough to line the inside of the ramekins.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside. (Tip: You can use this water for your chicken broth in the next step!)
In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, sage, rosemary, thyme, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly.
Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
...And if you're anything like me, this is best served upside-down on a dinner plate.

Nick Church

Nick Church is an amateur traveler, photographer, and golfer.
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