This past weekend we hosted a small group of my wife's friends from business school over for dinner. The same group meets about once a month and rotates through host homes. This being the second time we've hosted, I thought it would be the most obvious time to pick a few recipes from my new copy of Ad Hoc at Home to cook for our guests.
It doesn't look too great here, but Keller lists no other instruction other than to have 2 cups of cooked chicken meat per pie. Later I took the meat off the bones and shredded it into a bowl to be used later:
The ingredients for the pie crust. A pretty simple crust recipe in the back of the book works for multiple recipes throughout the book. According to Keller, knowing how to make a proper pie crust is essential for a good cook. It's made by combining the salt and flour in a bowl with 1.5" cubes of butter (2.5 sticks worth) and working the butter with your hands until the flour and salt have completely incorporated the butter and there are no butter pieces larger than a pea.
Say hello to Robin
Once the pie crust is made, it's time to start on the filling. I cooked the vegetables, each one separately with 8 peppercorns each as well as bay leaves and thyme (the celery was blanched just briefly). Now, I understand that this method is important, and I assume Keller wants to separate each ingredient so that they don't mix together and form a stew like flavor. I'm sure you could make a few shortcuts here without damaging the final product - the carrots and potatoes, for example, could probably cook together. But, I did as TK told me to do!:
Blancing the celery gave it a really nice green color.
I then worked on the bechamel sauce. This was time consuming, but worth it. It reduces for about 40-45 min before you pour the sauce on top of the ingredients. It was so heavy that it really didn't mix with the crust at all and the crust wasn't made soggy:
After pouring the bechamel over the vegetables and chicken, we sealed the pies and brushed milk on top in order to brown them. (Keller calls for butter, but I was told milk and butter act the same way):
Here they are just out of the oven:
And here is the final product: