The best free party and display of fashion pageantry in the world is about to begin. Yes, I’m talking about the Annual Academy awards. The show will be broadcast worldwide on Sunday, March 7th. That is just 7 days away! Here in Los Angeles, the preparations have begun. Some of the best party planners and chefs in the world are planning the Governor’s Ball (the official after party.) Los Angeles uber-celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck always cooks for the ball and provides his special recipes. He prepares a sumptious spread featuring fresh seafood, blinis with smoked salmon and lots of caviar. But I was looking for entertaining secrets for all the recessionistas watching at home. There most be fabuless tips and recipes for throwing your own party. Recently, I had the chance to talk to the Oscar chef himself, Wolfgang Puck, about how viewers at home can treat themselves to a special Oscar event.
Although Wolfgang will be cooking up some high-end treats for the Oscars, his famous original Spago restaurant on Sunset ( I was amused to see it was right behind a rental car company when I first came to Los Angeles) was founded on some simple food basics like Pizza that were once considered too low brow to be gourmet. And that is one of the things I’ve always loved about Wolfgang Puck, he makes the simple elegant and delicious. I should know. Over the years, I have eaten all all his LA restaurants! So when I was given the opportunity to talk to Wolfgang Puck about the awards, I had to ask, “Which one of your wonderful recipes is cheap and cheerful to make at home for the Oscars?”
“I’m serving a variation of my Chicken Pot Pie at the Governors Ball. It’s easy for the home cook and rather inexpensive too,” says master chef Puck with a grin. “You can substitute the puff pastry with some home-made pie crust or store-bought pie crust. The great thing about it is you can assemble it the day ahead, put it in the refrigerator, then bake it when you’re ready to eat it.”
Voila! Anything that is delicious and easy is an Oscar win for all of us. So here is the recipe for you to enjoy at home.
Pictured: Oscar Worthy Wolfgang Puck Chicken Pot Pie Recipe Photo (c) 2009 Wolfgang Puck
CHICKEN POT PIE
(recipe courtesy Wolfgang Puck, “Wolfgang Puck Makes it Easy,” Rutledge Hill Press, 2004)
Yield: Serves 4
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 pound organic red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound organic carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup white wine
2 cups organic chicken stock
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup shelled or frozen peas
Approximately 1/2 pound frozen puff pastry, defrosted following package instructions
1 cage-free egg
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and toss in a mixing bowl with 2 tablespoons of the flour until evenly coated. In a large skillet over high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the chicken pieces, reduce the heat slightly, and sauté, turning them occasionally, until light golden and thoroughly cooked, about 5 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the remaining oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter to the pan, then add the potatoes, carrots, and onions and sauté until they begin to look glossy and bright, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, and bay leaf, and sauté, just until the vegetables begin to color slightly, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Add the wine, turn up the heat, stir and scrape with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan deposits, and simmer until the liquid reduces by about half, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the 1 cup of cream. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat slightly, and simmer briskly until the liquid reduces by about half again and is thick and creamy, about 15 minutes. Remove the sprig of thyme and the bay leaf.
Stir in the reserved chicken pieces and the sherry. Stir together the butter and remaining flour and stir this paste into the mixture. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to 4 large individual ovenproof 2-cup soup bowls, 4 ramekins of the same size, or a 2-quart baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the filling is cold, at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Make sure the puff pastry is no thicker than 1/4 inch. With the tip of a sharp knife, cut the pastry into 4 circles that will overhang the rim of the serving bowls or ramekins by about half an inch; for a single large baking dish, cut 4 circles that will cover its top, or use one large sheet.
In a small bowl, beat together the egg and the remaining 1 tablespoon cream to make an egg wash. Brush the tops and outsides of the rims of the bowls. Place the bowls, ramekins, or baking dish on a baking tray and place the puff pastry circles on top, pressing them gently over the sides of the dishes . Pierce the tops with the tip of a paring knife. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash. Carefully transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbling hot and the pastry is a deep golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Serve hot.
Pictured: And the winner is you with your at home Oscar party!
Following are some at party tools you can use to enjoy the Oscars at home. The Academy provides sample ballots and games for your use. Here are the links.
Predict the winners using these downloadable Oscar ballots. Download
Download Bingo cards and play along as you watch the show! (Nine different cards available) Download
Test your Oscar smarts with this Academy Awards-themed crossword puzzle. Download
Stay tuned for more Oscar event coverage and tips all week!