Comfort food is high on my list once the weather starts to turn cold, but my idea of comfort food has changed since I met my husband. I remember loving pot pies as a kid. They were always such a treat and luckily they were super cheap. I loved the way the crust lightly soak up the gravy and I managed to get a piece of crust in every bite. Everything is better with gravy and crust. Since I met my husband, though, I now come to think of Indian food as comfort food. I love the smell of the spices frying in the oil. It makes me feel so warm inside. So I have started combining the comfort food of my youth with my hubby’s comfort food and came up with Chicken Curry Potpie.
Spices are a great way to add a lot of flavor to a dish without adding calories or fat. So I started with the way I start all curries, with a masala. A masala is simply a blend of spices, garlic and ginger that are mixed together to form a paste. The masala is usually different for each type of dish being made. I chose cumin, curry powder and turmeric. A lot of people think curry always has curry powder in it but in fact it does not. Curry Powder is a mix of different spices and varies by the brand you get. I chose to use madras curry powder to cut down on the amount of spices needed for this dish.
OK – back to the important stuff. Oh crust! How I miss you! I had to throw you out the window. You are just too high in fat and calories for this dish. I am so sad our relationship had to end but luckily phyllo dough was there to fill your spot. I have been using phyllo dough a lot in place of puff pastry or pie crusts. It is low in calories and is easy to work with. You just need to follow a few simple tips. Defrost the phyllo in the refrigerator and keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Have a damp paper towel ready and keep it on top of the phyllo dough. Work quickly and lightly spray the phyllo dough with cooking spray. Don’t worry about ripping the dough. Just put another piece of dough on top and it will work like glue to keep it all together. That is it, not too bad.
The real pleasure of this dish is the taste though. You dig in with your fork and pull out a chunk of chicken expecting a regular pot pie then wham! You get a light heat on your tongue from the jalapeno, the slightly smoky flavor of cumin and oh the pleasure of curry powder. It is like an explosion of flavor in your mouth. Your taste buds will sing with every bite. The carrots and parsnips will bring a sweet note of their own and the coconut milk will bring everything together into one harmonious bite.
Chicken Curry Pot Pie (Serves 4)
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 inch ginger, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, de-seeded and roughly chopped (use more if you want it hotter)
1 tsp. cumin seed
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. madras curry powder
1 tsp. canola oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced parsnip
1/2 cup diced celery
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 cup lite coconut milk
1 tsp. cornstarch
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth, divided
10 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted
- Put all of the ingredients for the masala into a spice grinder. Process until it is a paste.
- Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add masala and stir for one minute.
- Add onions and stir well. Turn down the heat to medium low and allow onions to caramelize, about 20 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium and add carrots, parsnips, celery, salt and 1/4 cup chicken broth. Cover and cook until the vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Add chicken, coconut milk and 7 tbsp. chicken broth to the skillet.
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until chicken is done, about 10-12 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix remaining 1 tbsp. chicken broth with cornstarch until fully incorporated. Pour into the chicken mixture and stir well.
- Add peas and continue to stir.
- Cook for another couple of minutes until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.
- Take off the heat.
- Lay out the phyllo dough and place a damp paper towel over it.
- Take one sheet and lay it on a work surface. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Lay another piece of phyllo on top and spray lightly with cooking spray.
- Cut the long side of the phyllo in half.
- Spray the inside of four 2-cup ramekins with cooking spray.
- Lay one half of the phyllo carefully onto the bottom of the ramekin, letting the extra dough hang over the sides.
- Take the other half of the phyllo and lay it the opposite way in the ramekin.
- Repeat steps 13 – 17 with the other 3 ramekins and 6 more pieces of phyllo.
- Place one-quarter of the chicken mixture into each ramekin.
- Lay out one more piece of phyllo and spray lightly with cooking spray. Cut the long side in half and drape one half on top of one ramekin. Fold up any remaining dough. Place the other half on another ramekin and repeat with another piece of phyllo and last 2 ramekins.
- Spray the top of each ramekin lightly with cooking spray.
- Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
- Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Nutritional value per serving:
Calories 344 Fat 7 grams Carbs 35 grams Protein 32