|A myriad of flavors|
Like Urban Italian, his newest book, American Flavor, is structured quite interestingly. The first thirty or so pages contain a collection of food-centric stories. Stories of past jobs, family vacations, crazy road trips, culinary revelations, often imparted with humor. The introductions of both books are wildly entertaining reads.
But here, we are talking about American Flavor. The introduction is entitled "Stories from the Road." Carmellini talks about the various culinary inspirations he received from his trips around the country from various stages of his life. Through the stories and the recipes, we see that "American flavor" is really made up of different ethnic cuisines and regional influences. His recipes borrow from classic American, Mexican, Polish, Asian, Italian, Middle Eastern, and American regional cooking, to name a few. Lots of really appealing recipes in this book.
I chose to make his dish, "My Chicken Pot Pie" (recipe found here on Serious Eats). The recipe takes a little bit of work to put together, you need to do some prep in advance, and there are a lot of steps. But there is nothing here that is too complicated.
Full disclosure - his recipe called for three pounds of chicken legs. I used a three pound whole chicken. It was roughly the same price, so I hope Carmellini won't mind!
His crust is thin and cracker-like, unlike the more traditional biscuit topping. Carmellini said that biscuit dough gets wet and heavy when in falls into the pot pie, which he doesn't like. The crispy cracker crust is meant to break when you cut into it and fall into the pot pie, kind of like crackers in soup. He added, "And who doesn't like crackers and soup?"
I spread the work out over a couple of days. Saturday I made the dough for the crust and let that rest in the fridge until today. I also made the stock and cooked the chicken on Saturday, which allowed me to chill the stock and remove most of the fat. Having this out of the way accomplishes some of the heavy lifting, so today I created the sauce with the chicken and veggies and assembled the dish.
In the recipe, Carmellini uses individual ramekins for personal sized servings. He also said you can do this in one big dish, which is what I did, as I do not have ramekins.
The dough is really hard to roll out. That is what took the most work. After that, I assembled the casserole and put the crust on top. The idea is that the steam from the chicken mixture will sort of inflate and lift the crust, giving sort of a domed effect.
Here is what it looked like coming out of the oven. I sort of had a half inflated, half deflated "collapsing Metrodome effect" on one side because I didn't seal the edge well enough. Oh, well!
|The Metrodome of pot pies!|
|"My Chicken Pot Pie" from American Flavor|