When disaster strikes, familiar foods can bring comfort
Physically tired from shoveling soggy Sheetrock, and emotionally drained from pitching a life’s worth of goods to the curb, my weary friends arrived at my home first for showers, then a home-cooked meal. Over the years, we had gathered around my table for birthdays, holidays and to play cards, but this night was different. It was their first taste of normal life after days of ruinous rain and grim reality brought by Hurricane Harvey.
Food conjures memories and mends the soul. And feeding the people in the aftermath of a disaster nurtures not only them, but you as well. Because food is comfort. Food is home. Food is love.
Chicken Pot Pie
Yields: 4 individual pot pies
For the filling:
1 whole rotisserie chicken
5 cups chicken stock
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 stick unsalted butter
2 yellow onions, chopped
3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
1 bunch carrots, sliced
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas
1 (10-ounce) package frozen sweet potato chunks
1⁄2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
For the crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 cup cold vegetable shortening, diced
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, diced
1⁄2 to 2⁄3 cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper
Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan. Add the bouillon cubes and dissolve them in the stock.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter and sauté the onions and carrots over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly.
Gradually add the hot chicken stock to the vegetables, stirring to combine. Simmer over low heat, stirring, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper. Add the chicken, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes and parsley. Mix well.
For the crust: Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Carefully toss the shortening and butter with flour until coated. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat has been reduced to the size of peas.
With the motor running, add the ice water a little at a time; processing only until the dough has just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap it in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into a circle wide enough to cover each dish.
Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1⁄2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot. Remove and serve immediately.
Alicia Cahill is the owner of The Kitchen Chick, 528 23rd St. in Galveston.