I HAD THE pleasure of visiting with Kate McDermott last week, our very own local food celebrity.
(It’s not too late to get a signed copy of her book “Art of the Pie” if you have an aspiring chef on your gift list.)
We talked about life, family, cooking and the unexpected things that can happen when you simply follow your curiosity and do what comes naturally.
“How did you get into pie making Kate?” I asked.
‘Made a lot of pie’
“I just made a lot of pie,” she replied.
I have an image of McDermott in her small home kitchen mixing up batch after batch of flour, fat, salt and water.
Varying the proportion of each ingredient over and over to get the right consistency, dough structure, roll-ability and flavor.
Once she nailed the proportions, she began to study the ingredients: pastry flour, unbleached, whole wheat and gluten free.
Butter, lard or oil.
I am sure she did her research, reading the folklore and the science.
But it was the slight insanity of repeated batches that taught her.
She did it because she was interested.
I have my own obsession with pickles and brine.
I make batch after batch of salt, water, herbs and vegetables.
I vary the container, the ingredients, the pH and salinity.
Our kitchen counter is a chemistry lab and I am a curious folklorist attempting to re-learn the art form, batch by batch.
Here we are at the close of 2017, when we generally resolve to make ourselves better in the coming year.
Inspired by McDermott, my plan for the new year is to just keep at it, to stay obsessed and weirdly curious.
Not because I expect a particular success, but simply for the doing.
I hope you have some weird obsession, and as long as it isn’t hurting anyone, I hope you will resolve to be yourself, follow your curiosity whatever it might be and keep at it.
Here is a recipe from McDermott’s book and website.
Pot Pie is a great after holiday way to use up leftover chicken, turkey or even roast beef.
Homemade chicken pot pie from Kate McDermott’s “Art of the Pie”
Prep time: 90 mins
Bake time: 35 mins
Total time: 2 hours 5 mins
Serves: 6 generous servings
• ½ recipe “Art of the Pie” dough
• About 1½ pounds chicken thighs
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large onion, peeled and chopped small
• 3 stalks celery, sliced into ¼ inch moons
• 3 red potatoes, cut into ½ inch size pieces
• ½ teaspoon dry thyme or leaves from 6 to 8 sprigs of fresh
• 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch moons
• ½ cup flour
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• 1 cup frozen peas, unthawed
• 2 tablespoons dry sherry
• 1 egg mixed with 2 tablespoons water for egg wash
Prepare and chill the dough. I’ve made this with both gluten free and gluten full doughs. There are a number of doughs to choose from at www.artofthepie.com/recipes.
Poach the chicken (This can be prepared in advance.) In large pot, cover chicken thighs with water and bring to boil. Lower heat to simmer and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit covered for one hour. Remove from water (stock).
Allow the chicken to cool then pull the meat apart into small pieces. Cover and place in fridge until ready to use.
Next, saute the vegetables. In a large frying pan or saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, potatoes and thyme. Cook over medium-low heat until soft, about 20 minutes.
Next, prepare the stock. In a saucepan, put 4 cups of the stock and boil for about five minutes or so.
Add carrots and and cook for about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat. Remove the carrots which will be added to the vegetable and chicken filling.
Keep the stock as it will go into the filling.
To finish the filling, stir flour, sugar, salt and pepper into the onions, celery and potatoes.
Cook over low heat for two minutes. Stir in the stock a little at a time.
Turn up heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should look like a thick soup.
Remove from heat.
To put the filling all together, stir in the peas, dry sherry, chicken and carrots.
Add salt and pepper until it tastes just right to you.
Pour the filling into a deep dish pie pan and top with rolled out dough. Cut some vents on top. Brush the dough with an egg wash.
Bake the pot pie in an oven preheated to 425 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Betsy Wharton is the proprietor of the Clallam Canning Co., a local purveyor of artisan pickles and other farm to jar goods. You can find her and her products at the Sprouting Hope Greenhouse at 826 E. First St. in Port Angeles. Or contact her at betsy@clallam canningcompany.com.