There was a “chef’s challenge” this past week on View From The Bay, the afternoon TV show in San Francisco on which I do the occasional segment. We had to cook a main dish that was $3 or less per serving. Michael Stevens, my wonderful friend and segment producer, LOVES Chicken Pot Pie. So, when I suggested that as one of my choices, he jumped on it. (As long as I made extra for him, of course). The best part about this was my ability to change the recipe to be much healthier than the average pot pie and STILL make it delicious and, well…cheap. I use lots of fresh vegetables, including Portobella mushrooms and red pepper. I also use fat free half and half and cross-hatch the crust only on top. No crust on the bottom. You still get the flavor without all the fat and calories.
This is not a difficult thing for me. It’s my specialty–making dishes healthier without taking the comfort-food, homey-ness out of them. As a matter of fact, when Janelle Wang, the female host, tried it, she loved it! After the segment, she even took another bite and exclaimed, “This is delicious!”
“Janelle,” I calmly said, “Do you realize that every time I come here, I cook something healthy and you love everything I make? Why does it surprise you that healthier food can still be great?”
She smiled, laughed and said, “You’re right! I do that, don’t I?” She’s so cute, it’s ridiculous.
The biggest compliment I got was from the crew. I always make enough to give the cameramen, sound guys and PA’s a snack. It was like moths to a flame! As I was cleaning up from the segment, they kept coming in to ask for some. I ended up putting it in a big pan with paper plates so they could eat at will. It was gone in about 8 minutes. That is the best compliment any cook can get.
You know, I’ve met a lot of chefs in my life, many of them classically trained. Just because they went to the French Culinary Institute, doesn’t make them great “cooks.” They may know how to slice the perfect potato, but flavor is instinct, feel and creativity. It’s like learning to play the piano. You can learn to play the NOTES….but feeling the music is a whole new level of talent.
Not that I’m the world’s greatest chef, of course, but I have good instincts and a bit of artistic creativity without forgetting what it’s like to cook in a home kitchen.
I might have put this recipe in another blog, but since I’ve gotten quite a few comments on the TV segment, I”m giving it to you again. You’ll love it, I promise!
Rona’s Chicken Pot Pie with Cost per Serving
1 Raw Pie Crust (So I don’t bake…sue me.) 2.00
Butter Spray .02
1 leek, sliced and rinsed 1.00
1 large carrot or a handful of small, peeled .25
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced (can use regular if desired) 2.50
1 Tbs all purpose flour .03
3 cloves of garlic, minced .30
2 tbsp fresh dill .75
½ red pepper, diced .75
½ cup Portobello mushrooms, diced 2.25
2 cups low sodium chicken broth 1.50
2.5 cups cubed chicken breast, cooked & seasoned 3.50
1 cup of peas, fresh or frozen and thawed .75
1 cup non-fat half and half .50
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley .25
Ground pepper, to taste .03
Total Cost of Recipe 16.38
Per Serving Cost 2.73
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan, generously spray oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the leek, carrot and potato. Cook, stirring until the leek is softened. About 5 minutes. Add the flour and garlic and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the broth. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken, peas, red pepper, Portobello, half and half, parsley and dill. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 more minutes. Season with lots of pepper. Spoon the filling into a deep 2 or 3 quart baking dish. Place the dough on top of the filling whole or in strips (less carbs this way!). Bake until crust is golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Serve immediately.
Nutritional Breakdown per serving without crust:
Fat: 4 gr
Saturated Fat: 1 gr
Cholesterol: 53 mgs
Sodium: 193 mgs
Carbohydrates: 23 gr
Fiber: 3 gr
Sugar: 7 gr
Protein: 24 gr
Overall caloric intake will differ depending on the amount of crust you use. I end up using about ½ a full crust for the whole dish when I crosshatch it. Here’s the nutritional breakdown from a FULL crust, divided by 6. This will vary slightly by manufacturer, as well. You can half that for the crosshatched version.
Calories from 1/6 full crust:
Fat: 16 gr (this is why I cross hatch!)
Saturated Fat: 9 gr
Cholesterol: 26 mg
Sodium: 280 mg
Carbohydrates: 16 gr
Fiber: 0 gr
Sugar: 0 gr
Protein: 3 gr