Artist Colony ... and Chicken Pot Pie

TheHubby and I have absolutely no sense of direction.   If you tell us to take the first right and then the second left, we will probably take the first right just fine, and then ... keep going until we fall off the map or serendipitously come across something better.

Such  was the case during a free morning in Jerusalem when, in order to score a few extra souvenirs "just in case," we headed out from our hotel to the Old City.

A backyard we passed along the way.

After getting directions from the hotel concierge, asking every other stranger if we were heading the right way, and screwing it all up anyway, we found ourselves just outside the Old City at the Artist Colony.  Known in Hebrew as Hutzot Hayotzer (Artists Lane), the Artist Colony was created in 1969 on a street formerly lined with old stables and storehouses.  Unlike the touristy shops scattered about inside the Old City where chotchkes made in China are sold (although to be fair there are also high quality galleries tucked in there and about), the Artist Colony is home to jewelry and art studios where most of the crafts sold are created on the premises and sold by the artists themselves.  Also on the street is Eucalyptus, a restaurant specializing in indigenous Israeli foods, where theHubby and I decided to stop in for an early lunch.

Technically outside for lunch, but I digress.

Unlike most American restaurants, bread in many Israeli restaurants is a separate charge, and the restaurant was no exception.  The homemade bread served us came with 5 different spreads--eggplant, beet, pesto (or spinach, can't remember which), tahini and carrot.  A little on the expensive side, but worth every shekel.

For the main course I ordered the seared mallard in red wine (actually sliced duck breast), which is not exactly your typical lunch.  But since the Try-N-Save back home only carries whole frozen kosher duck I jumped at the chance for what (for me) is a rare delicacy.

Duck served with veggies.

O. M. G!  The duck breast was so tender you could almost cut it with your breath.  If I ever win the lottery, one of the first things I'll do is buy a case or 3 of duck breasts and try to recreate this dish.  Over and over.  

TheHubby ordered Oven Baked Lamb, described as "lamb and vegetables baked overnight in a clay pot."  It turned out to be, in essence, lamb pot pie.

theHubby not taking the pot pie's temperature.

The crust appeared thick and uneven, as if someone tossed badly shaped pizza dough over a ceramic bowl. But I think the irregularity of the dough was supposed to emphasis the handmade rustic-look. But what the dish lacked in presentation was more than made up by its taste. Despite the sacrifice necessary to part with some of his food, theHubby graciously allowed me a forkful before quickly devouring the rest.

It was quite good, even if I'm wasn't really into lamb pot pie. But I do love pot pie of the chicken persuasion. So today I'll duck the duck recipe and share instead my chicken version with you, Dear Reader, with an attempt to duplicate the top crust.

I accidentally used more broth than the recipe states. Just ignore the gloppy-looking photos that follow ... your pot pie will not be as soupy.

If you prefer, you can make individual pot pies. Just split the dough into 4-6 pieces (depending upon the size of the mini-casseroles or whatever you use to contain the pot pies) and roll each into circles at least 2 inches larger in diameter than your mini-casseroles (or whatever you use to contain the pot pies).

A cheat here.  Dumped a serving into this bowl for photo.

If you have the time, make a Rich Pie Crust, the recipe for which follows the pot pie recipe. By the way, made with butter instead of margarine, this crust makes a great base for cheesy quiche. In any event, refrigerate the dough for at least one hour (check out this NY Times article for the science behind it), overnight even better. It's really worth the advance planning involved. But if time is not on your side, use puff pastry instead. Your family will still love you. Probably.

Chicken Pot Pie
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 Tbl. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium or 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
8 ozs. white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon leaves
1 tsp. kosher salt (plus more to taste)
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper (plus more to taste)
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbl. corn starch
2 cooked and cooled chicken breasts, shredded
cooking spray
1 recipe Rich Pie Crust (see below) or 1 sheet puff pastry dough, defrosted 

Preheat oven to 425F.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add oil, wait 10 seconds, then add diced onion.

Sent theHubby out for carrots.  These are what he returned with.

Saute for 2 minutes until softened, then add carrots, mushrooms, celery seed tarragon, salt and pepper.  Continue to saute frequently for another 6-8 minutes, or until mushrooms are reduced.

Stir in peas and wine (if using).  Let wine come to a simmer, then reduce heat and continue to simmer for another 2 minutes to let wine and any moisture released from mushrooms to reduce.

Ignore this photo.

Whisk together the broth and corn starch.  Pour mixture into skillet.  Increase high to medium-high and bring to boil, stirring frequently.  Stir in chicken, then remove from heat.  Taste and add more salt and/or pepper to taste.

Ignore this photo as well.

Spray the interior of a 4 quart casserole dish with the cooking spray.  Transfer chicken mixture to casserole dish.  Top with pie crust, allowing overhang of up to a couple inches.  Cut a few vents into top to allow steam to escape.

Place on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any spillage.  Place in preheated oven and bake until crust is nicely browned, 30-45 minutes.

You didn't see this, either.

Remove from oven and allow 15 minutes to cool before serving.

Rich Pie Crust
Yield: one crust

1 3/4 cup unbleached flour
1/4 tsp. table salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine, chilled
1 egg
1 Tbl. white or cider vinegar
1/4 cup ice water

Place flour and salt in food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Cut margarine into 8 pieces and add to flour mixture. Process 30 seconds or until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Combine egg, vinegar and water. Start processor and slowly pour in egg mixture through feed tube. Immediately stop processor as soon as mixture comes together, about 20 seconds. Remove dough from processor; roll into ball then flatten into disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap in wax paper and chill at least one hour, overnight even better.

Roll out chilled dough on floured surface to desired thickness, then use in your favorite recipe.

Dough can be kept for several days in fridge, or frozen in a freezer-safe bag for up to several months. Defrost, if frozen, in fridge overnight before proceeding.


Denise Browning said…
You are so funny! I love your gloppy-looking photos... They remind me that all of us are human and yes, mistakes happen in the kitchen.
Your pot pie looks delicious!!!! xx
dena said…
Thanks, Denise!

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