Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie from the Blue Ridge Dining Room

Chicken Pot Pie
On Sunday, May 1, the Blue Ridge Dining Room at The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa will roll out a new ala carte dinner menu. The menu is a continuation of the same theme for this restaurant - Southern Appalachian Comfort Cuisine. The use of local products continues to be a guiding force with the selections that are on the menu. The Chef also had more than local food in mind when orchestrating this menu; he had the locals in mind as well. The prices on the menu are very affordable with Starters beginning at $4.00 and entrées beginning at $13.00.

Jack Melson is the new Chef de Cuisine who was hired to fulfill the goal of the Blue Ridge to be a leader of local products and Southern cuisine for Western North Carolina. Chef Jack Melson, 28, was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina and has spent virtually his entire career traveling the Southeast until arriving in Los Angeles in late 2004. When Melson was a young child, his grandmother, who he still considers one of the best cooks he knows, was tired of him drumming overturned pots with a wooden spoon. Thus asking him to stir a pot instead, and put his hyperactivity to better use. Grandma soon had a very skillful “sous chef” assisting with her regional specialties.

Melson attended Johnson & Wales University’s Charleston, South Carolina campus, receiving an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts (1999), Associate Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts (2000), and a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Services (2001). As part of his training at Johnson & Wales he served a pastry externship at the grand Charleston Place Hotel and an internship at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Working his way through school, he worked at the Historic Mills House Hotel as a teaching assistant for Johnson & Wales University, eventually ascending to the position of Sous Chef.

After graduation, he left for Atlanta to work as Sous Chef at the acclaimed Horseradish Grill, specializing in an upscale, contemporary southern cuisine, followed by a two-year stint at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Atlanta’s Buckhead district, where he worked as Executive Sous Chef at Milan, the hotel’s Mediterranean bistro.

Thanks to Melson’s Southern heritage and extensive expertise in Southern cuisine, he was promoted to the head chef position at The Lincoln in Santa Monica, California. There he was encouraged to spice up the steakhouse’s menu with a variety of intriguing Americana-inspired dishes (i.e. lacquered Kurobuta pork chops with maple mashed sweet potatoes; Carolina Barbecued Salmon; Southern Red Rice Pirlau) which greatly complimented the Prime Steak selections at the core of the menu. Melson also enjoys applying occasional Asian, European and Latin touches to his dishes, as long as it’s consistent with his fundamental philosophy, “Just make it taste good…make it simple yet elegant…and don’t be seduced into going overboard.”

After two years at The Lincoln, Melson realized that he wanted more out of the cuisine he offered, and soon began some soul searching and decided to take a step down. Melson had a new goal in life to learn as much as he could about the cuisine of the world, the true roots of modern American cuisine, he wanted to go to Europe. It wasn’t long after this epiphany that Melson was introduced to Chef Sean Dent. Dent an Australian native took Melson under his wing. Melson joined his staff at the renowned Beverly Hilton, as the Chef de Cuisine of Circa 55.

After two years at the Beverly Hilton, Melson could not resist the call of home and the Appalachian Mountains. Upon returning to Asheville, Melson accepted the position of Chef de Cuisine for the Blue Ridge Dining Room at the legendary Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa. There he creates genuine southern comfort dishes, inspired by the wealth of locally grown produce and his southern mountain roots.

Chef Jack Melson
The Chicken Pot Pie is one of Jack’s signature menu selections on the upcoming ala carte dinner menu. The pie combines succulent oven roasted, farm raised chicken with local fresh seasonal vegetables in a savory herb cream sauce with house made pastry crust.

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Béchamel (Herb Cream Sauce)
Butter ¼ lb.
Onion, diced small ¼ lb.
Flour ¼ lb.
Clove ¼ tsp
Nutmeg 1 pinch
Milk, whole 1 Quart
Cream 1 Quart

Chicken, whole organic roasted 1 each

English Peas, fresh 1 lb.
Carrot batons 1 lb.
White Asparagus ½ lb.
Parsley, chopped 2 TBS
Rosemary, chopped 1 TBS
Thyme, chopped 1 TBS
Salt 1 TBS

Pastry Crust
Pie Dough, round cooked 4 each
Pie Dough, round 4 each
Egg 1 each

To make Béchamel (the herb cream sauce)
Place butter in a large saucepan, over medium heat let melt and begin to froth. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add flour and stir for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and cream and cook until mixture boils. Add spices and reduce heat to simmer, cook for 4 minutes and reserve.

Prepare the chicken
Rub the whole chicken with salt and pepper and place in oven in a roasting pan and bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until brown and internal temperature reads 165. Let cool and pull meat from the chicken and reserve.

Prepare the pastry crust
Roll out pastry dough and cut two rounds for each vessel. Cut one round to fit just inside the bottom of the dish, and one larger round to cover the top of the dish with a slight overlap. Place the cut rounds on a lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash, sprinkle with salt and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes until golden brown. Place the smaller cooked pie round in bottom of serving dish.

Create the chicken pot pie
In a sauce pan put béchamel add roast chicken and warm through add the cut vegetables and bring to simmer, let simmer for 4-5 minutes. Place in serving dish and top with the larger pie dough round, garnish with fresh herbs, and serve.

To check out the new menu due out Sunday, May 1, click here.

Contact information
290 Macon Avenue
Asheville, North Carolina  28804

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