At Good Girl Dinette, a charming spot in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park, “American Diner Meets Vietnamese Comfort Food.” While The Astronomer and I are tremendous fans of most everything on the menu, from the blistered imperial rolls to the deeply caramelized pork confit, it’s the restaurant’s signature chicken curry pot pie that we find impossible to resist every time we swing in for dinner.
Each pot pie is baked to order, ensuring that the buttermilk biscuit topping is perfectly flaky, while the fish sauce-laced curry bubbles just beneath. There’s something about the way the buttery crust melds with the spice-laden stew that satisfies and surprises with each bite.
Not everyone is lucky enough to live a short drive away from The Dinette, and Chef Diep Tran’s pot pie is much too delicious to be reserved for locals only. Thankfully, those who reside outside the Southland can reproduce the dish at home with the help of this spot-on recipe that first appeared in the New York Times article “Based on an Old Family Recipe.” I’ve had it bookmarked for ages and finally got around to executing last week when the holiday rush died down.
The original recipe makes five hearty individual servings, just like in the restaurant. However, I made two larger pot pies using 10-inch round quiche dishes since I don’t own any gratin dishes. Also, I used chicken legs in place of the thighs because that was the only cut my market had in stock. Even with these minor tweaks, the results were most satisfactory.
For buttermilk biscuits
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 11 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
For chicken curry
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
- 1/4 cup Madras curry powder
- 2 lemon grass stalks, tops trimmed, bases halved lengthwise and smashed
- 3 white onions, cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup fish sauce
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 3 large Yukon Gold or baking potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 1 1/4 cups coconut milk
Make buttermilk biscuits
Have ready five 24-ounce oval (or 2 10-inch round quiche dishes) gratin dishes.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder to combine. Transfer 1 cup of the dry ingredients to a food processor, and sprinkle with the cubes of butter. Pulse 5 to 7 times until the butter pieces are pea-size. Transfer to the bowl with the remaining dry ingredients, and stir to distribute the butter evenly.
Make several depressions in the flour mixture with your fingers; add the buttermilk a little at a time, mixing with your fingers, until it is all incorporated. Gently work the dough just until it comes together. Cover lightly, refrigerate 1 hour.
Note: Don’t sweat it if your dough looks a bit hairy and craggy. Chef Diep Tran assured me that the uglier the dough, the tastier the results. She was right, of course.