Eight ingredients. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a weeknight feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our new feature, "8 & $20." We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
We’ve been known to defrost a frozen potpie from time to time (shhh!), but here’s the thing: Make just a few tweaks and the real deal can be easily prepared on a weeknight. First, streamline the ingredients; don’t fuss around with tons of fillings (that will help with wine pairing too). Second, save time with store-bought puff-pastry.
The good thing about this recipe is that it’s super-customizable. Want to add mushrooms or use peas instead of asparagus? No problem. Just make sure that you cut the fillings—in this case, the potatoes, chicken and asparagus—into pieces that are roughly the same size. Ideally, you want to be able to get one of each on your spoon with each bite.
We tried this dish with a range of whites and found that a round, creamy California Chardonnay with just a hint of oak made a natural match. The buttery flavors in the wine locked in nicely with the flaky pastry, but the wine still had enough zing to cut through the creamy sauce.
Pair with a California Chardonnay, such as Bonterra Chardonnay Mendocino County 2009 (87 points, $14)
Approximate food cost: $22
Total time: 45 minutes
1. In a medium-size pot, heat 4 inches of water over high heat until it boils. Turn the heat down to a simmer, add the chicken breasts and cook until done, around 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and cool, reserving both the chicken and the water. When the chicken is cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
2. While the chicken is cooking, cut the asparagus and potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat, and sauté the minced shallot until it becomes translucent, around 2 minutes. Add the asparagus, cooked chicken and potatoes. Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wine and continue cooking until it has reduced by half. Ladle water that you used to cook the chicken through a strainer and into the pot until the filling has been covered by liquid. Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and stir in the cream. Adjust the seasoning.
3. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Pour the mixture into an oven-safe casserole dish. Cover the dish with the sheet of puff pastry, then cut the edges of the pastry so it lies flat on top of the dish. Brush the top of the pastry with olive oil, prick all over with the tines of a fork, and sprinkle with salt. Place the dish in the oven and cook until the liquid is bubbling on the sides of the pastry, and the pastry has turned golden brown, around 20 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes, and serve. Serves 4.
Note: You can make individual potpies instead by dividing the filling into four oven-safe bowls.