Join Me This Sunday

Join me this Sunday January 14th, 4:30PM EST for a SWEET SURPRISE!

George Hirsch Msgr Jim Telecare TV

What a cooking priest? Don’t let those vestments fool you, Msgr. could easily trade them in for a chefs coat, he knows his way around the kitchen! As I, he shares the belief that food is the common denominator and when breaking bread and we sit around the table there is bond of spiritual love like non other. 

George Hirsch on Telecare TV

This is why I am such a supporter of Telecare TV and their TV ministry. Like many other celebrity supporters, over the years I have enjoyed many good times with Msgr Jim on Real Food and Good News programs. I hope you join me this Sunday January 14th, 4:30PM EST when I share one of my most popular recipes and chat with Msgr Jim on all good things. Tune-in or watch live online Telecare TV

My warmest best wishes for a blessed 2016!  

Deep Dish Dinner

Change things up on the menu. It might be time to make a warm and comforting Chicken Pot Pie. This recipe is perfect for leftovers as well. The great thing about this recipe is you can assemble all the ingredients the day before, refrigerate and bake it in less than an hour before dinner. Make individual pies for fun or for serving up practical portions.

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For a fancier serving suggestion assemble the potpies in individual ovenproof size dishes. 

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Chicken Pot Pie

Makes 6 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle 

*1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed

1 cup carrots, diced

1/2 cup celery, peeled & chopped

1/2 cup fennel, chopped

1 cup Yukon potatoes, peeled and diced

1 bay leaf

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon each thyme, hot sauce

1/4 teaspoon each sea salt, fresh ground black pepper

pinch fresh grated nutmeg

1 3/4 cups chicken broth

2/3 cup milk

1 cup frozen green peas

*2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts, or 1 Puff Pastry Sheet 

1 egg, with teaspoon milk, beaten for egg wash

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

baked pot pie

In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, fennel, celery and bay leaf. Add just enough of broth to cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, cool and set aside. Remove bay leaf and discard.

In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, thyme and hot sauce. Slowly stir in remaining chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat, cool, add peas and potatoes and set aside.

Place the chicken mixture in bottom of a lightly pre-baked (see note) pie crust. Pour cool chicken mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Brush top lightly with egg wash. Do not puddle egg wash on top of dough or top will burn. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, lower temperature to 325 degrees or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cover edges with foil if it becomes too dark. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

chicken pot pie with heart crust

chicken pot pie with heart crust

Note: A wet sauce added to a bottom crust pie shell requires the pie dough to be slightly pre-baked to avoid it becoming soggy and raw. Place your bottom pie crust in the bottom of the pie pan or serving dish. Cover lightly with aluminum foil outlining the crust so it will bake blind (no color). Bake for 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Remove and proceed with recipe as directed.

Optional serving suggestions:

*You may use boneless dark meat or 2 cups leftover pre-cooked chicken.

- Serve in individual crocks. Pour chicken mixture into crocks and place dough over each one.

*George’s Favorite Pie Crust

Makes 1 pie or 2 bottom crusts

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup cold milk

Chill the butter and milk before you begin. Chilling keeps the pie crust flaky and prevents the fat pieces from melting into the flour and becoming tough. 

Next, mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Cut the chilled butter into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter or by pinching the fat into the mixture with your hands. The mixture should have fat lumps no larger than the size of raisins. If making pie crust in the summer time cool off the flour by measuring your flour and refrigerate one hour before making dough.

Pour in the chilled liquid just until the milk is absorbed, mixing gently with a fork. You should be able to gently press the dough into a ball. Mix the dough as little as possible: you don't want to cream the lumps of butter into the flour. A crust without lumps of butter will be dense, not flaky. Note that humidity will affect how much liquid the flour will absorb.

Split the dough into two parts; 2/3 and 1/3 (2/3 for the bottom and 1/3 for the top). Pat them into balls, flattening them slightly, and wrap them in plastic wrap. The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Overnight is preferred. Chilling lets the flour absorb all of the liquid, lets the dough relax and become more elastic, and keeps the fat in separate pieces which will give the crust a lighter texture when it is baked.

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Eighteen Gallon Muffin

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By my standards, this is the number one comfort dessert. This recipe is so good that I adapted it down from my recipe that served much larger portions—I used at a hotel where we served about 25,000 meals daily. The original recipe called for eighteen gallons of milk. It should be no surprise that my original bread pudding recipe served about 1000 people a day. 

TIP: I like to use day-old French bread in my bread pudding recipe because it has more flavor than the gummy plain white kind. Cinnamon-raison bead, croissants, sweat rolls, brioche, challah, and panettone can also be substituted or mixed in combination for part of the bread. Puree some seasonal berries for a sauce or serve with a vanilla sauce.

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Apple-Raisin Bread Pudding Muffins

Makes 10-12 servings

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2 Granny Smith or baking apples, peel, cored and chopped small

3-4 cups dry French Bread, cubed small

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped small

1/2 cup raisins, *plumped 

4 Tablespoons butter, melted

4 cups milk, or use half milk and half & half 

8 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup pure cane sugar, sugar can be slightly reduced if using sweet breads

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 Teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons fresh grated orange zest

In a small saute pan saute apples in 2 Tablespoons butter to slightly soften, remove and cool. 

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk, eggs, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest and nutmeg, and beat with a whisk until well blended. Slowly pour over the bread mixture. Poke the bread so that it’s completely covered with the milk mixture and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Add raisins and 1/2 of the cooled sautéed apple.  

Grease a regular size 12-cup muffin pan with butter, or use muffin cups liners, or individual ramekins.

Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, place bread pudding batter into muffin cups filling each cup to three quarters full. Add remaining apples on top of batter. 

Place a pan larger than the muffin pan in preheated oven and place the pan holding the bread pudding inside. Immediately fil the outer pan with enough hot water so that it comes up one inch on the sides of the muffin pan. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the water bath, reduce the temperature to 325 degrees, and bake for 10-15 additional minutes. Remove the bread-pudding muffins and allow to set for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. 

Serve Apple-Raisin Bread Pudding Muffins warm or cold with warm fruit or vanilla sauce.

*To plump dried raisins add 2 tablespoons of water or orange juice and heat in microwave for 30 seconds; drain orange juice back into pre measured 1/3 cup orange juice. 

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GameDay Gumbo

A good gumbo takes time, a great gumbo takes longer…

Whether it’s a stew or soup-like, there is nothing more satisfying than a hearty bowl of Gumbo..

Gumbo is truely Cajun and the official state dish of Louisiana; one that celebrates their heritage of sustenance off the land. There are numerous ingredients that can be added to a gumbo, but it's really all about utilizing what’s on hand. Chicken, duck + rabbit are the usual meats, along with ham and sausage. A seafood gumbo can contain shrimp, crab and oysters. However, the basics ingredients used in any gumbo are the “holy trinity” consisting of onion, celery and green peppers, thickened with a dark roux.  

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Additionally, the make up of a Cajun Gumbo is the use of heritage ingredients such as the African vegetable okra, together with the cooking influences of local Choctaw Indians, French, German and Spanish settlers. The addition of tomatoes is more Creole and not of Cajun influence. I believe the addition of tomatoes with all the other ingredients in the gumbo pot provides a wonderful mix of culture and full flavor. With such a rich culture as Louisiana has it is important to note that the preparing of a gumbo goes far beyond the making of this ‘stew’ and really brings together the community.  

This new kind of gumbo may just be stepping back to the Cajun way - with everyone contributing to the pot for the goodess of the stew.

For MY GUMBO RECIPE

A good gumbo takes time, a great gumbo takes longer. 

So what’s the hurry? I learned this lesson first hand from some good Cajun friends who take the better part of a day assembling, cooking and stirring the gumbo pot. Results of this time honored patience is a great ol’ time exchanging conversation and stories with friends along with a brat or two and some chilled long necks until the gumbo is served.  

GameDay Gumbo Recipe | Adapted from Gather ‘round the Grill

Makes 8-10 servings 

2 Tablespoons olive oil

3 pound whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces; or substitute 4 boneless thighs or breasts

1 pound andouille or smoked sausage, chopped

3 Tablespoons Butter

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

3 green onions, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

8 cups chicken broth

1 Tablespoon hot sauce

1 teaspoon thyme, sea salt

2 bay leaves

1 cup okra, fresh or frozen, sliced

1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled & deveined

2 teaspoons gumbo file powder dissolved in 1/4 cup chicken broth

2 Tablespoons Italian (flat leaf) parsley, rough choppedf

Fresh ground black pepper

Heat a large soup pot to a medium temperature. Add olive oil and chicken and cook on all sides until light brown. 

Add sausage and brown. Add butter, melt then add flour and cook for 10 minutes stirring until the roux (flour & butter) is light brown. 

Add the onion, and cook until a light golden color, stirring occasionally. Add the green bell pepper, green onion, celery, and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes. 

Add the canned tomatoes, chicken or vegetable broth, parsley, hot sauce, thyme, bay leaves, sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Bring the gumbo to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. 

Remove chicken and reserve until cool. If using bone-in chicken remove meat from chicken bones and chop chicken meat into 1/2 inch pieces  and return meat to soup pot. Simmer gently for 2 additional hours. 

Remove bay leaves, add okra and simmer ten minutes. Add shrimp five minutes before serving. Mix in the dissolved gumbo file. 

Serving suggestion: Serve with a scoop of steamy hot rice, top with additional parsley and chopped green onions. 

Note: Gumbo file can be found in the spice section of your supermarket.