How did two Austin women, Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock, become the Casserole Queens?
Here's their story:
"It's called a defining moment. For Madonna, it was 'Everybody.' For Brad Pitt, it was 'Thelma and Louise.' For us, well, it was our chicken pot pie that started it all. Now, we aren't saying that we're the next Madonna or Brad Pitt. But, in all honesty, you wouldn't be reading this book if it weren't for this recipe. As seen on Food Network's 'Throwdown with Bobby Flay,' this signature dish is our claim to fame. It's not just any old pot pie — oh, no. We took great care to bring this everyday comfort food to new gourmet heights. White wine, tarragon, and shallots are just some of the surprise ingredients tucked under a perfectly golden brown puff pastry. It's the dish that made people sit up and take notice of us, and now it's your turn to take the spotlight."
The cookbook in question is "The Casserole Queens Cookbook"
(Clarkson Potter, $17.99), and it features casseroles as divergent as Frenchy Toast Casserole for breakfast to Keep Austin Weird Spam Casserole for, well, any Austin friends who go to the annual Spamarama Festival.
For more on the Casserole Queens, click here.
World's Greatest Chicken Pot Pie
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (3-pound) roasted chicken, boned and shredded
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups fresh peas, blanched
1 1/2 cups carrots, diced and blanched
2 russet potatoes, diced and blanched
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
Egg wash (lightly whisk together 1 whole egg and 1 teaspoon water)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the chicken, bell pepper, and shallots, and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, salt, tarragon and black pepper. Add the milk and cream, and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and bubbly about 10 minutes. Add the wine, peas, carrots and potatoes, and stir until heated thoroughly, about 5 minutes.
Transfer the hot chicken mixture to a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Place the puff pastry over the top of the casserole dish. Brush the edges of the puff pastry with the egg wash and press against the side of the casserole dish, then cut slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape. Brush the top of the puff pastry with egg wash — this will help the puff pastry brown evenly. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately.
If you are short on time, take advantage of frozen vegetables. Replace the hand-cut and blanched veggies with a bag of frozen peas and carrots and 1/2 bag of frozen diced potatoes. By not blanching your vegetables, you'll miss some of the salt flavor. Taste the filling before you put it in the casserole dish and season with salt, if you like.
Variations: Here are two great ways to make this chicken pot pie:
- Make individual pot pies. Portion out the filling into 6-ounce ramekins. Top each ramekin with some puff pastry and freeze. Cook at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown.
- Use store bought pie dough and make empanadas. Using a 3-inch circle pastry cutter, cut 12 circles out of the dough. Place a large spoonful of filling on one half of each circle. Brush the edge of the pastry with egg wash, then fold in half to make a half-moon shape. Press the edges together firmly and crimp with a fork. Put the empanadas on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
From "The Casserole Queens Cookbook" by Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock