“The best comfort food will always be greens, cornbread and fried chicken.” Maya Angelou, American poet
Last week’s soup version of chicken pot pie is great if you’re in a hurry, but there are times when you just want the “creamy,” savory real thing. Perhaps on a day like today, when it’s gray as dusk, rain is imminent and the normal routine is beginning to give way to holiday.
This dairy-free, gluten-free version is a crowd pleaser for everyone except vegetarians and vegans. For a meat-free version, I would suggest tempeh instead of chicken or simply doubling the amount of vegetables. To go vegan, do the same, plus use an egg substitute in the pastry. A free-of-something diet shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying this beloved wintry meal.
Slow Chicken Pot Pie (dairy free, gluten free)
This is a multi-step recipe. It makes the most sense to begin with the pastry, even though you won’t need it until the end. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine 1 cup gluten-free flour (wheat flour is just as good if you’re not gluten-free) with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 6 Tablespoons olive oil, 2 Tablespoons cold water and one egg yolk. Mix a bit with a spoon, then knead with your fingers until you have a smooth ball of dough. Cover and set aside at room temperature.
Next, put 1 1/2 cups unsalted cashews in your blender. Add 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon dried or powdered onion. (This combo gives this faux bechemel/white sauce some serious umami). Cover and set aside for mixing later.
Now, peel and thinly slice about 5 large carrots. Put in a wok or large skillet with 1 package frozen peas, 1 package frozen corn and about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds diced chicken breasts. Saute it all in olive oil until chicken is thoroughly cooked and carrots are fork tender.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil the inside of a large iron skillet or 9×9-inch Pyrex dish. Blend the cashew mix until creamy in texture, check the fluid level and add a bit of water if you have less than two cups. Pour the cashew cream into the vegetables and chicken and mix everything in the skillet/wok. Put the whole lot in the prepared skillet/Pyrex dish and smooth with the back of a spoon.
In a final step, tear off pieces of the pastry and flatten them into 1/4-inch thick patties with your hands. Place these all over the top of the chicken/veggies/cashew cream, covering as much of it as possible. If you manage to completely cover it, use a knife to cut a few steam vents. Bake the pie in the oven for about 20 minutes. Gluten-free pastry can burn very quickly. You’re going for “done,” not “golden brown.”