And we found it in a surprising location too. At the center of some of the city's best breakfasts, where you're more likely to find eggs and scrapple.
No one would ever accuse Ina Pinkney of being chicken, but it turns out that two of her most popular items on her breakfast and lunch menus are just that: wholesome, comforting, chicken-based dishes that just scream winter comfort.
Ina Pinkney has a reputation as a breakfast queen. Her eponymous restaurant is a haven for early-morning satisfaction. But she also serves lunch, and two of the most popular items as of late have been her superior fried chicken and waffles, as well as a chicken pot pie that is pure winter comfort.
"Chicken is a remarkable dish because you can do so many things with it. It becomes this great canvas on which to build flavors and on which to build textures around it. So chicken is an important part of our menu," said Ina Pinkney, owner of Ina's.
She begins by sauteeing pieces of chicken in butter, combining them with carrots, celery and onions. A little flour is added to thicken the sauce, while some half and half gives the dish a jolt of richness. Pinkney has a wise strategy for her crusty top, which is baked separately from the pot pie.
"I really always don't like a heavy-duty dough or a biscuit dough on top of this very delicious, creamy, chicken-y center. So I decided to use a puff pastry, which as you saw cracks nicely and almost becomes part of each taste, each spoonful," Pinkney said.
Once the chicken and vegetable mixture has thickened, it's poured into a sturdy crock, then topped with the flaky dough cap.
"It's a time-tested recipe and a family favorite. The thing that we do here is, we try to update it. We try to make it a cleaner product; we try to make it a lighter product. But never lose out on the traditional taste," said Pinkney.
1235 W. Randolph
CHICKEN POT PIE
Makes 6 servings
For Pot Pie Mix
2 lbs. Chicken thigh meat, skinned and boned
1/2 cup Flour, all purpose
1/2 cup Half and Half
3 cups Chicken Stock, home made or organic low salt
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 cup Onion, medium dice
1 cup Celery, medium dice
1 cup Carrots, 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup Peas, fresh or individually quick frozen
1 Bay leaf
Salt and Pepper for seasoning
In a large, heavy bottomed sauté pan, over medium heat, add the chicken and stir until partially cooked and it turns tan.
Add the garlic, onion, celery and carrots to the pan and stir until softened and they give off some liquid.
Add the flour to the pan and stir until incorporated. Cook for about 3-5 minutes to cook out the raw taste of the flour.
Add the half and half, chicken stock and the bay leaf.
Cook over very low heat, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan, until the mixture simmers and thickens.
Taste and add salt and freshly ground pepper.
Stir in the peas and remove from the heat.
For Pastry Top
NOTE: These lids can be made a day or two in advance. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and do not refrigerate. Reheat for a few minutes before serving.
1 sheet Puff Pastry, store bought commercial, 12x18 inches
Pastry Top Instructions:
On a well-floured work surface, open the sheet of puff pastry and, using a rolling pin, roll it out until it is about 16x22.
Decide in which dish/bowl you'll be serving the Pot Pie and using that dish/bowl as a guide, turn it upside down and cut out 6 rounds from the dough, using a sharp knife.
(You can use the scraps and cut out leaves or even chickens!)
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet (or two) and with a fork, 'dock' the dough all over. That means make 'tracks' all over the pastry with a fork. This will keep the dough from puffing up.
Bake at 375 for 5-7 minutes or until medium brown.
Spoon the chicken mixture into a dish or bowl and place the puff pastry lid on top.