Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Eric's Fave Dish - Chicken in a Pie Crust

Years ago, I saw Rachael Ray make some kind of chicken breast wrapped in a pastry shell on her talk show.  Puffed pastry?  Pie shell?  I don't remember, but I do remember that it looked pretty magnificent.  So sometime last year, I tried my own take on that dish, and it immediately became Eric's favorite dish.

Preheat the oven according to the directions on your pie crust box.

Next, brown the skinless chicken breasts.  I season them with salt, pepper, and dried thyme, only because I don't usually have fresh thyme in the house, and it seems to work just as well.  Cook them for 3-4 minutes on each side.  You don't want to cook them all the way through, because you'll throw them in the oven for about 20 minutes, so for heaven's sakes, don't overcook the chicken!  Set it aside on a platter to cool down.  Seriously.  There's nothing like putting hot food on a pie crust to create a melting hole.

In the same pan, I sauté whatever vegetables we have on hand.  This time, we had onions, which I caramelized first, then added mushrooms, which never brown very well for me since I'm not patient enough to spread it all out and give it all its own room, I mean, who has time for that?!?  So I just threw it all in, knowing that browning perfection could be mine, but that I'd just have to stick with the braised kind.  Poured in a little white wine for some great flavor and to deglaze.  Please don't forget to salt and pepper.  You do want this to taste like something at the end of it all.  Lastly, I threw in lots and lots of spinach.  It always amazes me how much spinach cooks down.  I remember when I first made a dish with it, I threw a handful in, and I got these vapid green streaks through my dish.  Novice move.  Set this aside to cool down.

Then the stacking onto the middle of the thawed pie crust.  I layer the bottom with some kind of cheese.  I like to put a good amount of Brie because it's melty and mild, or a medium amount of a sharper cheese like cheddar.  I had cheddar this time around, and I put what would amount to a single slice, but next time I would put more since it seemed to barely make a whisper.  Little spots of ooziness when it was finally all said and done just seemed to tease me.  So make the cheese count.  The sautéed vegetables make the next layer, then the chicken goes on top.
Wrap that up like it's a Christmas present.  I always cut off a strip of the pie crust to make a design on the top of the little package.  E is for Eric, and L is for Lina.  Clever, huh?  I'm so cute it makes me sick.  Then I whisk an egg and use it as an egg wash for a great browning effect.  See?  Then throw it in the oven for the prescribed time to cook that deliciously buttery outer shell and turn it a nice golden color.

And the result is this.  A perfectly cooked chicken breast that is moist, tender, and oh-so-flavorful, with layers of cheese and vegetables.  See what I mean about the cheese?  You can see a dollop on the left side, which only hints to the fact that there's cheese.  What a stinkin' shame...  But regardless, the fusion of flavors here, the interplay of textures - the flakiness of the crust with the moistness and oozy insides...  What's not to love?

Well, I did find something not to love.  I turned the pie crust box around to read the nutritional facts.  Take a guess on how many calories that pie shell is?  Just take a guess before I tell you......

That's right - 800 calories.  Whoa, mama.  For someone I know, she can eat that and a carrot stick and she would hit her maximum calorie allotment for the day, let alone the cheese, chicken, and what not.

This is why I don't make it very often.  Hmm.  Maybe it's why Eric loves it so much; you always want what you can't always get.

1 comment:

Eric Bierker said...

Yummee. 800 calories...that is nothing. A few wind sprints and sit-ups and we are back to caloric homeostasis