Chicken Popeye

Chicken Popeye? It doesn’t have any spinach or Olive Oyl, but can you really call it a pot pie in good faith when it doesn’t have a pie crust. Popovers, mmmm.

One of my first experiences with popovers was in BLT Steak in Puerto Rico with Nicole. BLT’s popovers rock, they are loaded with cheese and as big as my head. If that doesn’t define greatness alone, it should.

I’ve been making pot pies for a few years, and have always tried to minimize the stodge by skipping the cream. My “gravy” is usually broth thickened up a bit, and the crust was always a really loose lattice of biscuit dough. Inspiration hit one day last week, why not use popovers instead of biscuit dough. Popovers are fairly low in calories due to their air-to-flour ratio and they have a bonus pocket to stuff. A kangaroo would probably also make a good receptacle if only I could get the calories down…

I used Alton Brown’s popover recipe with a little extra salt and some cheddar on top.  Gotsta have the cheddar.

So how do I get away with no cream?  Once everything is cooked, I douse the whole shebang with chicken broth and then do the unthinkable.  I add some mashed potato flakes to thicken the broth.  The shame. Actually, this is the only purpose I keep the potflakes in the house, they have no business being eaten on their own and I am a little embarrassed whenever I need to buy them.  I mean it’s not embarrassing like buying condoms from the 17 year old girl working at CVS, but its still uncomfortable.

Easy Cheddar Popovers

(makes 6 popovers, original recipe by Alton Brown)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 4.75 ounces of flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • a handful of shredded cheddar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Whizz everything except the cheese in a blender for 30 seconds
  • Evenly pour into a nonstick and sprayed popover pan/tray/rack.  You can probably use a muffin pan too, but I use the rack.  Be like me.
  • Sprinkle each with a small bit of the cheese
  • Bang into the oven for 40 minutes
  • Remove from oven, and turn that puppy off
  • Pop a small hole in the top of the popovers to release excess steam
  • Put the popovers on a rack in the still hot oven to keep warm

Filling

  • 2 or 3 chicken breasts, diced up
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into disks
  • 3 celery ribs, sliced into…whatever you call what you slice celery into
  • 1 pound of button mushrooms, diced
  • some broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • some potato flakes
  • 2-3 white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme

Directions

  • Fill small saucepan with water, potatoes and carrots and simmer until tender
  • In a large skillet over medium to high heat, carmelize mushrooms.  I love carmelized mushrooms, the way you pull this off is to not move the mushrooms.  For a while.  Until they get nice and brown leave ’em alone, only then do you move them.  If they spit out a lot of mushwater, then let the water evaporate off, while still not moving them.
  • Remove mushrooms, and cook celery and broccoli until tender
  • Remove and saute chicken
  • When the chicken is nice and crusty and brown add the broth and bring to a boil
  • While boiling, stir in the potato flakes a little at a time until it starts to thicken up to a consistency you like.  Be careful not to put in too much, it will stiffen up more as it cools and you don’t want mashed potatoes here, do you?
  • Drain the potatoes and carrots, and add all the ingredients back to the “gravy”
  • Cut the popovers in half and pour the filling over.  Don’t be stingy on the gravy like I was in the photo.