Food & Nutrition
As I gather my thoughts and try to focus on one topic for this weekly column, one fact that I know for sure is that it is really winter. Good cold weather is a great time to do some real cooking and then, if possible, to share the great food with company. Some food ideas that come to mind are chili – either tomato chili or white chicken chili, any kind of hearty soup, a roast with vegetables, rice crispy chicken, any food slow roasted in the oven, and to my list I would add old fashioned chicken pot pie in a rich broth.
I have to share our recent chicken pot pie experience, as I have written a column on it before. We have just made the best-tasting pot pie that we have ever created. For those of you not familiar with pot pie, as I know it, it is a rich broth with chopped celery, onion and carrots and some kind of meat. My family’s pot pie is always chicken but I have eaten it with small pieces of roast beef or cubes of ham.
There are a couple of cooking differences that I believe created the richer flavor. First, we used legs and thighs versus a whole chicken so we had the darker meat. I chose the thighs and legs as they are most economical, and they are also great for rice crispy chicken another time. We also skinned the chicken; I know the skin could have made the broth richer but in browning the meat in the cast iron, it became a rich golden brown and there was some fat that also browned and contributed to the flavor.
Once the chicken was browned it was transferred to a Dutch oven with chopped carrots, celery, onions and water added. Then the slow roasting process began with the oven only at 300 degrees. In the past I would have used the crockpot or top of the stove to cook the chicken and create the broth. There was a huge difference in the flavor from the meat and vegetables being roasted versus simmered. The broth had so much more flavor that I could add more water to it so I could make more potpie.
Another change I made is I used buttermilk for the milk in the dough recipe. Why? Well I had the fresh buttermilk and I thought I would just try it and I think it made for a tender dough. The last change I made was that I added some chicken bouillon flavoring to the dough so the dough had more flavor. I will also admit that the extra heat from the oven was a real bonus and the aroma of the roasted food was very nice.
If I have now made you and your family hungry for chicken pot pie there is a recipe on the office website at http://www.extension.purdue.edu/elkhart. If preparing the chicken pot pie doesn’t sound good to you how about roasting vegetables with a pork loin? Pork prices are very good and there is so much you can do once the loin is roasted, but first envision browning the loin in a cast iron skillet. You could then even roast it with potatoes, carrots, and onions in the cast iron; right there is a great hearty meal with planned-overs. The planned-overs can become pulled pork, loin sandwiches, sliced loin on a dark green salad, a casserole, added to stir fried vegetables and all the other ideas that you have.
I encourage you and your family to make the most of your kitchen, your cooking skills, and your food dollars. Make time to prepare great food at home and share it with friends you will be glad you did for many reasons!
Mary Ann Lienhart Cross is county extension director and an extension educator in health and human sciences at Purdue Extension Elkhart County. Contact her at 574-533-0554 or firstname.lastname@example.org.