Chicken A La Queen

Aired August 27, 2007

8 puff pastry shells, recommended brand Pepperidge Farms (Since most puff pastry shells come in packages of six, buy two -- a little extra never hurt anyone!)
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced on a long angle
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced on a long angle
1 fresh or dry bay leaf
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced into strips
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 heaping tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 pound thin asparagus, cut into one-inch pieces on a long angle
1 cup frozen peas
5 to 6 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves stripped and roughly chopped

Preheat oven according to package directions for puff pastry shells. Arrange shells on a non-stick baking sheet then place in oven. Bake until golden, remove from oven and let cool.

Place a large deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add celery, onions, carrots, bay leaf and season with a little salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until the veggies start to get tender. Add the red bell pepper and continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Scoot the veggies over to the sides and add the butter to the center of the skillet. Once butter has melted, add flour and cook for about a minute.

Whisk in white wine, chicken stock and cream. Bring the liquids up to a simmer then add the chicken pieces. Bring back up to a simmer and add the asparagus. Simmer mixture until the chicken is cooked through and the asparagus is tender, about 10-12 minutes.

Add peas and tarragon and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place 2 shells on each dinner plate and fill each shell with the chicken mixture. Replace pastry lid and top with a sprig of tarragon.

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