Chicken Pot Pies and Half Price Wine

When the weather turns colder, there's a temporary sense of loss and a lack of energy. Chinese philosophy would ascribe it to the seasonal movement of chi. For me, it is the realization that the hot, lazy days of summer are over. No longer can doors and windows be flung wide open letting in the brilliant sun and the air thick and heavy with the scent of growing things. No more watering vegetables and searching for the bright red of tomatoes and strawberries among the deep green foliage, eating them hot and juicy right out of the garden. I have a sadness to see long days shorten. But life turns inward, towards hot cups of tea by the fire and the preparation for the holidays. I enjoy the fellowship of the holidays, sharing food and conversation with friends and family but there is a sense of dread, too, mostly centered around gift giving. I hate shopping! So, working for a wine company has helped enormously as I increasingly give wine at the holidays (sometimes with jars of homemade jam, tins of cookies or bundles of sage from the garden). Those of us in Southern California are fortunate to be within driving distance of the Wine Warehouse sales at Touring & Tasting. I stocked up with $58 Cabernet Sauvignon for $25 a bottle and $26 Whites for $13 at the last one, so I'm set this year! For those who are too far for the Santa Barbara wine events, this week's special would make a great gift. It's a half price sale on a wine sampler that's already a great deal at full price--with free shipping to boot! Send the gift of wine this holiday--no parking hassles, no crowds, no fuss!
This week's recipe is perfect for the colder weather. Enjoy with a bottle of 2008 Saucelito Canyon Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc from the Wine Cellar.
1 14 oz. can of chicken broth (almost 2 cups)
1 lb. chicken meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup peeled and diced potato (about two small potatoes)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup peeled and diced carrots (two large)
1 cup frozen peas
1 bay leaf
5 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup half and half
1 cup milk
1 tsp. poultry seasoning (thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, nutmeg)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 frozen deep dish pie crusts
Let the pie crusts come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bring broth and bay leaf to a boil then add the chicken, potato and carrots. Cook 5 minutes or until the carrots are softened but not mushy. Remove the bay leaf and turn off the heat. In the meantime, cook the onion in butter in a saucepan (at least a quart size) over low heat until the onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the flour until well mixed. Using a slotted spoon or sieve to keep the chicken and vegetable back, carefully pour in a third of the broth and whisk until well mixed. Continue with the next two thirds, whisking after every addition. Then add the half and half, milk, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Whisk well and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the mixtue has thickened. Add the chicken and vegetables, adjust seasonings, then ladle into soup bowls. Turn the pie crusts over onto a lightly floured cutting board and pat it flat with your hands. Cut the dough into wide strips. Weave the strips over the tops of the bowls and trim the ends 1/2" below the outside rim. Roll leftover dough in long "snakes" and put around the edges of the pies, pinching the dough around the edges to seal the edges. Crimp with your fingers or a fork. Let some spaces remain between the woven dough for steam to escape. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the crusts are golden brown. Serves 4.

*Note for vegetarians: substitute 2 cups chopped portabello mushrooms for the chicken and vegetable broth for the chicken stock. Rather than cooking the mushrooms in the stock, like the chicken in the recipe above, cook them in the butter with the onion. Portabellos will give the pies rich flavor, replacing them with button mushrooms will not give the same depth of flavor.

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