The Secret to a One Hour Dinner Party

Source: The Secret to a One Hour Dinner Party

It's late, you're hungry, and that pile of delivery menus is singing its siren song, but hold up. What if you could whip up a comforting five-course British meal (including a cocktail!) in roughly the same time takeout will arrive on your doorstep? Mission impossible? We think not: provided you've done the shopping ahead of time, this can (and should) be done. Your wallet, taste buds, and dinner companions will thank you.

A luxuriously rich pot pie seems an unlikely candidate for a fast and easy dinner, but thanks to a few smart tweaks, that fantasy can become reality.

Adapted from Meals in Minutes by Jamie Oliver
Chicken Pot Pie


4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
1 pat of butter
1 bunch of scallions
6 ounces button mushrooms, rinsed
1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons English mustard, such as Colman's
1 generous tablespoon heavy cream
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Whole nutmeg
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large sheet of all-butter puff pastry, thawed
1 egg


  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  • Slice the chicken breasts into 1/2-inch strips. Heat a glug of olive oil and the butter in a large skillet. Once hot, add the chicken, and cook for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, trim off the root ends and dark green parts of the scallions, and slice them and the mushrooms using the thick slicing disc in a food processor. Add the vegetables to the pan with the flour, and stir to coat. Add the mustard, heavy cream, and chicken broth. Stir well. Pick the thyme leaves off their sprigs, and stir into the pan with a few gratings of nutmeg and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, lightly dust a clean surface with flour, and unroll the sheet of puff pastry. Use a paring knife to lightly score it in a criss-cross pattern. Take the pan of chicken off the heat. Transfer the filling to an ovenproof baking dish slightly smaller than the sheet of pastry (approximately 9x13 inches). Cover the filing with the sheet of puff pastry, tucking in at the edges. In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg until no streaks of yolk remain, then brush it over the top of the pie.
  • Cook on the top rack of the oven for about 15 minutes or until the pastry has puffed up and is deep golden brown. Serve hot.


Category: Main Dishes, Poultry
Yield: Serves 4

Now that you have the star of the show, try these fast and easy recipes for superior supporting roles.

  • Gin and It Cocktail: Rather than fuss over an elaborate cocktail - steer clear of any drink that involves a blender, flamed citrus peels, dry-shaken egg whites, or muddling - stick with a classic that's only complex in flavor. All you'll need are two bar-cart staples, some ice, and a flick of a wrist to stir it all together. (Really.
  • Carrot Smash: Dress up carrots with a fast and free smash with a fork, an assertive dose of thyme, and a glug of grassy olive oil.
  • Minted Peas: Add a dose of green veggies to your dinner table with this easy, yet elegant take on minted peas.
  • Easy Berries and Fig Trifle: Round it out with a pared-down version of an early Fall favorite: berry shortcake. Use whatever berries look good at your market (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, figs, and blackberries all work to great effect), add buttery shortbread cookies and vanilla whipped cream - that's it.
For extra-efficient prep, follow this step-by-step plan for assembling the entire meal all at once; just add the cocktail, say cheers, and dig in.