Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Unique Spin On An Old Favorite Plus Butter In An Unusual Place…Even For Paula

Paula’s Best Dishes with Paula Deen

Reinventing Southern Favorites 
Chicken Pot Pie with Cheese Straw Crust 
Fried Green Tomato Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Paula’s in the kitchen with country star Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town. I’m not sure if I’ve heard of her OR them. I keep thinking of Little Big Man - that Dustin Hoffman movie,. Kimberley also has a cooking show, which Paula doesn’t identify further. (Paula is nothing if not cagey.)

OH, Paula DOES ask her about her cooking show…actually in the first 20 seconds. (I really have to stop being so judgy immediately. I should have given her 30 seconds, at least, to tell us who she was.) Her show is called Kimberly’s Simply Southern. Paula is funny. She kind of pushes Kimberly out of the way and tells her to “get out of (her) lane!” Kimberly giggles, but I don’t think Paula is kidding. That cackle could be hiding a recipe-ruining plan…

Paula tells Kimberly that she likes that she’s not from Jersey trying to pull off being a southern girl. I wonder who she’s talking about. I don’t think Snooki, for example, pretends to know how to make fried chicken. And Teresa has always claimed Eye-talian cooking as her specialty. Who could she mean? Paula likes that both she and Kimberly are from Georgia and that she’s the real deal. 

Paula tells us they’re going to do new twists on traditional recipes. Paula says she’s making a Chicken Pot Pie, but she won’t be including the feet, which apparently is the traditional way of making it. (I can live with that.)

Paula splits a chicken in half while she has Kimberly chunk up some celery, onions and carrots. She doesn’t cut it up further, because she wants the meat to stay in big pieces. I never cut it up at all.  I just throw it in whole, but then I’ve never even been to Georgia.

Paula adds, “I do want what those bones have to offer us.” I would think so, especially since she’s skimping so much by not adding the feet. Hold on! She says it's the FLAVOR she’s after. Oh, I thought she was talking about getting the jellied stuff out of the bones to make a richer, heartier stock. That’s what’s in the feet.

As they’re cooking, Kimberly says, “Holy cow!” She cayn’t believe she’s cooking Chicken POT Pie with Paula Deen. Paula cackles heartily. Paula says to cook the chicken for 45 minutes. (That's not long enough for stock. I sure hope she’s going to get the meat off the bones, set it aside and put the bones back in the pot for more cooking.) 

Paula carries the pot to the stove by her pinkies, because her hands have chicken on them. She lets Kimberly do the seasoning, then she goes right to the sink to wash her hands. (She could have washed them first and then not risked dropping the whole stock pot or straining her poor little fingers.)

They start the cheese straws for the top of the chicken pie. (I hate the term Chicken POT Pie, plus Paula is making this in a rectangular DISH, so it’s not really a pot. I’m calling it Chicken Pie.) Now this is interesting. Paula says cheese straws are a staple in the south. I didn’t know that. They say that you’ll find them at every wedding and function in the South. They've certainly found their way to the Hamptons, as well.

The truth is I don’t love cheese straws. If you made some, I would definitely have one and tell you how good it was, but I prefer mushier treats – like a little pot of foie gras mousse, or a creamy goat cheese something or other. It’s also why in the area of patisserie, I would never choose Palmiers. Give me a Religieuse (coffee-flavored particularly, oohlala) or a Barquette aux Marrons. But puff pastry with lots of sugar? Eh!

But this is not schuzzed-up puff pastry. This is a crumbly, cheesy shortcrust type of mixture. Kimberly beats a stick of room temperature butter with 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese with salt and cayenne pepper.

Paula asks Kim about being on the road. She says they did 100 shows last year and that she has a little five year daughter named Daisy. She’s cute.

To Kimberly's mixture, Paula adds in a cup and a half of flour (with her magnificent and magnificently expensive measuring cup/scoop). Paula is using this cheese straw pastry as a top crust.

She makes a traditional one for the bottom with 3 cups of flour (I’m admiring those measuring cups again), a teaspoon of salt, ¼ tsp. baking powder, ¾ cup of solid shortening and ICE water. Kimberly asks if she’s adding so little baking powder because it’s for the bottom crust. Paula says this dough is actually going throughout the pie. Hmmm. How will that work? It sounds like dumplings (with a lot more shortening).

Paula rolls the ball of biscuit dough in a bit of flour to make it less sticky. Kimberly is excited by how Paula is using the dough. Me too. But won’t the dough rise to the top of the liquid? And wouldn’t there be little dough balls (or dumplings) underneath the crust? What will happen??!

Paula is impressed by the fact that Kimberly stopped mixing the dough with the spoon and started working it with her hands. Paula says the broth gets poured over the dough and the flour will make the broth thicker. Yup, just like with chicken and dumplings, but I still don’t know how this will work. How will Paula prevent the dough from rising to the top? 

Now Paula is ROLLING OUT the dough. Now I’m really confused. I did not think that was how she was going to use it.

Paula pulls the chicken out of the pot, while Kimberly rolls out the cheese straw pastry. Next Paula shares a trick she uses for “richening up” her chicken broth. SHE ADDS A STICK OF BUTTER. I have to say I did not see that coming.

Isn’t the reason for using a whole chicken to make a rich broth? Couldn’t she have used some butter in that second pastry if she wanted to richen up the dish. (Isn’t it funny that up No’th, we would just take that “en” and put it at the START of the word – enrich? I think I like Paula’s way better.)

Paula tastes the broth for seasoning and then starts to assemble the chicken pie. THIS is truly unique. She cuts the un-cheesed dough (the second one) into long strips. She lays a few strips in the bottom of a rectangular baking dish. They’re not overlapping, they’re not even touching. 

Then Paula and Kim sprinkle in peas and cooked carrot pieces. They shred the cooked chicken with forks and knives (it’s still hot!) and add some to the dish. Kimberly cayn’t believe she’s “pickin’ chicken” with Paula Deen.

Next Paula lays some pastry strips the OTHER WAY in the dish, while Kimberly says she’s never had a chicken pie with pastry INSIDE it. First, I like that she calls it “Chicken Pie” and secondly, I’m with HER. I never heard of this before. It’s intriguing.

Paula says, “It’s not the same if you don’t have that wonderful pastry through it.” I truly can’t even imagine what this is going to be like. More dough (lengthwise this time) goes over the chicken, then more peas and carrots and more chicken. For the top, she makes a perfect lattice of cheese straw dough. 

Paula uses tons of flour to roll out and handle the dough, which makes it much easier to work with and allows her to weave the dough strips without them breaking. For a minute I thought it looked like she had cut the cheese straw strips with a ridged cutter. She didn’t, but that would make a really lovely looking top.

Next Paula takes a (pretty) coffee mug and pours some broth over the top of the pie, NOT trying to avoid the top pastry. (Won’t that make it soggy?) She brings the broth “all the way to the tippy top”.

But Paula’s not done yet! Guess what’s next? C’mon, this is Paula, y’all. Can you guess what she adds to the top of her chicken pie? Little dots of butter. “Not a whole bunch…just a little…a little love” (Or high LDL, whichever way to choose to look at it.) Then she sprinkles over some pepper AND salt, which she says the devil made her do. She bakes it at 350°F. for 45 minutes. Looking into her stock pot, Paula opines, “This is like gold, ya’ll. If we don’t need it, we will freeze it for the next pie.”

Whew!!! That was a long process. Let’s see how it comes out and what happens to those pastry strips. Oh, but not yet. First Kimberly is going to show us how to make a fried green tomato salad with peaches. Paula says she’s never eaten them together. Was that a subtle dig?

Kim says the tartness of the tomato goes nicely with the sweetness of the peaches. (I just want to know how she going to richen it up.) Paula slices the tomatoes and asks Kimberly if she salts them to pull the water out. "SHOULD I?," Kimberly asks. Paula says, "Yessum." Kimberly says, “Well, let’s salt them.”

Kimberly adds paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper to cornmeal. She beats 3 eggs in a separate dish and gets flour ready too. Paula shows her all the water that’s released by salting the tomatoes. She normally does it for 15 minutes and them blots them on paper towels.  

Kim flours, egg and cornflours the tomato slices. She fries them in COCONUT oil. Not sure why, but her mama makes biscuits with coconut oil. Kimberly cooks the tomato slices for 3 minutes a side, salting them after she turns them. They look good. She makes a dressing of balsamic vinegar, honey (yum), Dijon and olive oil. For the salad, Kimberly uses mixed greens, slivered almonds (I would toast them) and feta cheese. She adds the peaches and tosses it all with the dressing. They taste the fried green tomatoes before plating the salad. Paula loves them.

Have they finally gotten to the chicken pie? Not yet! First (darn!) they make a strawberry lemonade. Paula made a simple syrup with strawberries and basil. She strains it and add it with 2 cups of lemon juice to her beverage dispenser (very sharp looking) with some fresh lemon slices. I might prefer mint to basil. Paula adds some fresh strawberries and Kimberly serves it up.

FINALLY, Paula serves up the chicken pie.


Kimberly says the pastry looks dumpling-like, but we don’t hear anything further about the texture. Kimberly adds the salad to the plate and puts a fried green tomato on top. Paula LOVES the salad.

Paula asks her if she had fun today. Kim says, “THIS has been a dream come true. I have watched you... (Watch it girl…don’t say for decades.) I have learned A LOT of stuff from you. AND here I am, I cayn’t believe it.” Paula is happy and asks her if she’ll come back. Kimberly says, “Are you kidding? Can I just stay?” Sweet.

I didn’t get the feedback I wanted about the chicken pie, but it sure did look purdy. I suppose those strips of pastry stuck deep in the middle and bottom of the pie would TASTE like dumplings, just in long thin pieces, not balls.

But that stick of butter in the chicken stock? I don’t see one reason in the world to do that. One could just take the chicken off the bone and add the bones back to the stock and keep it cooking for another hour (or two). THAT’S how you richen up your stock, without overloading your arteries.  

Note: Funnily enough, Paula's whole family is on the cover of People Magazine in a story about how they all lost loads of weight. I'm guessing that in her everyday life, Paula skips the stick of butter in her chicken stock...


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I don't get the butter in the chicken stock thing at all. Is there anything that woman won't add butter to? I thought she was trying to get her weight and diabetes under control (although that People layout looks a tad Photoshopped to me). I guess it's not that much worse than thickening it with a roux for a more gravy-like consistency.

I have put chicken feet in my stock in the past. They definitely do add some of the unctuous quality to my stocks, but they do get removed from the pot when I make the actual soup with them.

Interesting idea to use cheese straw dough for crusts. That would definitely be an interesting flavor dimension. I'm not sure I would want soggy cheese straws in the middle of my pie though. I think I'll stick to my biscuit-topped version.

Sue said...

Hi Rach,
The butter was definitely not better.

It's always a good idea to remove feet from soup before serving.

The Cheese Straw pastry was just for the top. She made a separate more dumpling-like mixture for the strips that she put throughout the chicken pie. It did sound awfully odd.

I just had the bright idea of looking at the reviews on the FN website. People liked the pastry. One did say that the pastry in the middle tasted like dumplings, so there you have it. (It's still sounds unusual to me.)

Aly ~ Cooking in Stilettos said...

First can I say how much I missed reading FNMusings Sue :)

OK - now on to this Kimberly character. As I was channel surfing late the other night, I noticed that Ms. Sunny's Cooking For Real was on a country channel (GAC) and as I was about to switch to it, it changed to Ms. Sandy Dee I mean Lee. Now it was REAL late and I had an early wake up call so I didn't change it but noticed that they had a Kimberly's Simply Southern show right after. I didn't put two and two together until now. I have heard of her group and they aren't that bad but my heavens - who else has a cooking show now. And since when did FN get into bed with GAC (or is that a Scripps thing). I'm so confused.

I do, however, like this recipe - without the butter in the stock, of course :)

Sue said...

Thanks, Aly!
GAC is indeed part of the Scripps network. I'm not sure if I had actually heard of it before. I thought it might be some variation of the Game Show Channel, but it stands for Great "Amurican" Country. I guess they found a young purdy thing who could cook and gave her a show...which seems to be a similar strategy at times on the Food Network and Cooking Channel.

The butter in the stock, the week before Paula's slimmed-down self was on the cover of People, was a bit incongruous. But the recipe was awesome.