Menu of Menusissue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape. It's a list to drool over.
A few weeks ago I got a press release heralding the return of Kenny and Ziggy's New York Delicatessen's chicken pot pie to the menu. Having been in Houston for less than a year, I was unaware that A. Such a thing existed at Kenny & Ziggy's, and B. It was ever gone in the first place.
I recall thinking that chicken pot pie sounds good and all, but I didn't see what the hype was about until I stopped by recently to find out.
It's not pot pie weather quite yet, but I don't even care. Get it to-go, turn the thermostat way down, pile on some sweaters, and feast, because this is the best cold-weather comfort food I've had in ages.
Pot pie is, of course, a food with varying constructions. My Quaker grandmother makes chicken pot pie in a sort of stew with dumplings. Marie Callender's makes frozen pot pies (that, honestly, aren't the worst things in the world for satisfying a craving) with a pie crust on the top and bottom and chicken and vegetables baked into the middle.
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Kenny & Ziggy's does it by stewing a hearty mixture of lean cubed chicken, celery, onions and carrots in a thick, meaty broth, then topping the whole thing with a buttery, flaky puff pastry hat. It comes to the table steaming hot, and I burned my tongue on more than one occasion trying desperately to eat it before it was cool enough. One bite, and I had to have more and more until my entire body was filled with the satisfying warmth that can come only from a perfect stew.
This particular pot pie is above and beyond for a number of reasons. It's not too salty, as many pot pies and stews can be, nor is it too glutinous from flour added to the broth to thicken it. The meat is tender and flavorful. The vegetables haven't turned to mush from overcooking. The puff pastry on top provides an ideal crispy counterpoint to the soft, soothing stew. Also, it's alarmingly puffy. Feat of pot pie engineering puffy.
So I get it now. I get why the return of the pie (good movie title?) is such an exciting event. And I'm going to eat as much as I possibly can of this wonderfully robust and calming pot pie before it disappears again in the spring.
The list so far: No. 100: Bangkok Fries at Boheme No. 99: Almond Croissant at Phoenicia No. 98: Bulgogi Tacos with Kimchi at Chi'Lantro No. 97: Soft Pretzel from Mongoose Versus Cobra No. 96: Chicken and Waffles at Adair Kitchen No. 95: Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Brooklyn Athletic Club No. 94: Foie Gras Mac & Cheese at BRC Gastropub No. 93: Vuelve a la Vida Soup at Connie's Seafood No. 92: Homeroom at Bernie's Burger Bus No. 91: Lobster Cake Benedict at Sorrel Urban Bistro No. 90: Uncle Daryl's Cake at The Chocolate Bar No. 89: Porchetta e Fagioli at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 88: Sesame Soft Balls at Golden Dim Sum No. 87: Crab Daddy Bao at Fat Bao No. 86: Ham, Egg & Cheese Crepe at Melange Creperie No. 85: Pork Tamales at Irma's No. 84: Greek Burger at Hubcap Grill No. 83: Lobster Roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches No. 82: Grilled Ahi Tuna at St. John's Fire No. 81: Catfish and Grits at The Breakfast Klub No. 80: The Marie Laveau Sandwich at Sandy Witch No. 79: Carnissima Pizza at Coppa Osteria No. 78: Mortadella Sandwich at 13 Celsius No. 77: Lamb Lollipops at Américas No. 76: The Heights Burger at Gratifi No. 75: 'Date With a Pig' at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop No. 74: Taco al Pastor at Taco Keto No. 73: Chili Cheese Mac from Jus' Mac