Granola Bars and Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is something I adore, yet rarely have.  This mostly has to do with how making gluten-free pie crust is next to impossible.   I have in the past found myself making pie crust batter instead of dough, in order to smear it around a pie plate.  This works, but is a hassle.  Thus, I am not often inclined towards making chicken pot pie gluten free.  Just as well, my brothers never seemed like kids who would be enthusaistic about it.

Well, last night, I was leafing through some of my old issues of Cook’s Illustrated and found a recipe for chicken pot pie with a crumble topping.  It looked simple and we had nearly all of the ingredients here all ready so I figured it would be good to make the next day. 

So, tonight I got to work and made it, and wow, is it good.  It is a streamlined recipe, so it doesn’t call for roasting the chicken, but instead poaching boneless breasts or thighs in broth.  Owing to the loss of flavor from not roasting the chicken, two secret ingredients are added, tomato paste and soy sauce.  These two ingredients are very high in glutamates which are known to build savory flavor.  By browning the mushrooms with the soy sauce and tomato paste, depth of flavor is brought to the sauce.

Also today, I made granola bars.  This is, I don’t know, the fifth time I have made them this summer, they’re that good.  They’re even good enough for my picky brother, who has already eaten three today.  I first found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and the recipe there had come from the King Arthur Flour website.  They are wonderfully chewy and buttery.  I like to make mine with instead of white sugar, dark brown sugar, no corn syrup but 2 more tablespoons maple syrup, and pecans, coconut, and dried cranberries.

Here are the recipes for both granola bars and chicken pot pie:

Chicken Pot Pie With Savory Crumble Topping
Cook’s Illustrated   September/October 2010

Note:  This recipe relies on two unusual ingredients: soy sauce and tomato paste.  Do not omit them.  They don’t convey their distinctive tastes but greatly deeped the savory flavor of the filling.  When making the topping, do not substitute milk or half-and- half for the heavy cream.

Filling

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and /or thighs
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about one cup)
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut, crosswise into 1/4 inch-thick slices (about 1 cup)
2 small celery ribs, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed, caps wiped clean and sliced thin
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon tomato paste
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour (or combination gluten-free flours totaling same amt.)
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons juice from one lemon
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
3/4 cup frozen baby peas

Crumble Topping

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour (or 2 cups gluten-free flour combination)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
1 ounce parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

1.  For the chicken:  Bring chicken and broth to simmer in covered Dutch oven or medium heat.  Cook until chicken is just done, 8-12 minutes.  Transfer cooked chicken to large bowl.  Pour broth through fine-mesh strainer into liquid measuring cup and reserve.  Do not wash dutch oven.  Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.
2.  For the topping:  Combine flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt in a large bowl.  Sprinkle butter pieces over top of flour.  Using fingers, rub butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal.  Stir in Parmesan.  Add cream and stir until just combined.  Crumble mixture into irregularly shaped pieces ranging from 1/2 to 3/4 inch each onto parchment lined rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until fragrent and starting to brown, 10 to 13 minutes.  Set aside.
3.  For the filling:  heat 1 tablespoon oil in now empty Dutch oven oven medium heat until shimmering.  Add onion. carrots, celery, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cover and cook, stirring occaisonally, until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes.  While vegetables are cooking, shread chicken into small bite-size pieces.  Transfer cooked vegetables to bowl with chicken; set aside.
4.  Heat remaining tablespoon oil in empty Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.  Add mushrooms; cover and cook, stirring occaisionally, until mushrooms have released their juices, about 5 minutes.  Remove cover and stir in soy sauce and tomato paste.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has evaporated, mushrooms are well browned, and dark fond begins to form on surface of pan, about 5 minutes.  Transfer mushrooms to bowl with chicken and vegetables.  Set aside.
5.  Heat butter in empty Dutch oven over medium heat.  When foaming subsides, stir in flour and cook 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in reserved chicken broth and milk.  Bring to simmer, scraping pan bottom witrh wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, then continue to simmer until sauce fully thickens, about 1 minute.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and two tablespoons parsley. 
6.  Stir chicken-vegetable mixture and peas into sauce.  Pour mixture in 13 by 9-inch baking dish or casserole dish of similar size.  Scatter crumble topping evenly over filling.  Baked on rimmed baking sheet until filling is bubbling and topping is welll browned, 12 to 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon parsley and serve.

Thick, Chewy Granola Bars
Adapted from King Arthur Flour by Smitten Kitchen

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats)
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)*
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (I used almond butter) (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, namely because I was not convinced that the flavor came through)
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (see Note above)
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)
Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.
Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)
Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. [Updating to note, as many had crumbling issues:] If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

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About Madeleine C.

Hi I'm Madeleine and I am an avid cook and baker! Between school, homework swimming, and everything else in my life, I really enjoy cooking! I am 15 (now 16) years old, and have two brothers, both of whom have celiac disease along with my father. For this reason, I often make gluten-free things that will satisfy them as well as those who can readily consume gluten. I enjoy making the complex and the simple, and enjoy a challenge while cooking. That's just about it!