Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is a bit of a production, but it’s worth every ounce of effort. You have to make a pie crust, roast chicken, make the filling, and then assemble the pie. It’s quite an ordeal, but it’s fantastic. Of course, there are a lot of cheater methods for chicken pot pie including buying pre-made pie crust, or even puff pastry. You can substitute cream of chicken soup instead of making the filling from scratch. You can even use biscuits as a topping…but I’m telling you right now, if you make it my way, you won’t regret it. In fact, if you have someone you want to impress (a boyfriend or girlfriend by chance) you might want to consider making this for them. This was one of the first meals I made for my boyfriend, and I’m fairly confident it sealed the deal for me.

Classically, chicken pot pie is a cream based filling with chicken, carrots, onions, celery, peas, and potatoes; which is exactly how I make mine. Many recipes add things like mushrooms (which I do love, but my boyfriend doesn’t), bell peppers, and even green beans. Bells peppers and my stomach don’t get along, and I think there is no worse crime than an overcooked mushy green bean, but you can add whatever you like. If you want to add or omit any vegetables in this recipe, you can do it without making any adjustment.

Now, there are a few things I should tell you about this recipe:

–          This is a recipe for a full double pie crust. Depending on how you make your final product you might have left over. If you have left over you can roll out an extra pie crust and freeze it in a disposable pie tin for use later.

–          This recipe makes more than enough filling. My boyfriend calls it “chicken stew” and he loves to eat it alone as much as he loves it in pie form.

–          This can be made in various ways: In a pie plate with both a top and a bottom crust, in a pie plate with just a top crust, or in ramekins or small crocks topped with crust.

–          I made the original in the traditional way with a top and a bottom crust in a pie plate. With the leftovers for picture (and round two eating) purposes I made a small one in a ramekin. One was prettier, but they were both equally delicious.

The filling for this recipe is my own, but the pie crust recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen.  I have a number of different pie crust recipes under my belt (including the secret family recipe), but this one was excellent for this dish.

Pie Crust Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar (I left this out since I was doing a savory preparation and this dough is quite sweet)
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka  (Don’t skip this, see the note at the bottom of the post)
1/4 cup cold water

1 egg, for egg wash

Pie crust method:

Process 1½ cups flour, salt and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening, and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds, and there should be no un-coated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Filling (a.k.a. Chicken stew) ingredients:

1 ½ to 2 lbs of chicken, roasted  and diced (or shredded) *See notes at bottom*

1 onion, diced

1 Tbs olive oil

4 Tbs butter

¾ cup flour

4 cups (1 box) chicken stock

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼” rounds

2 large stalks celery, slice into ¼” pieces

1 medium to large russet potato, diced and par boiled

1/3 cup frozen peas

1 Tbs Better Than Bouillon chicken flavor, or 1 bouillon cube

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ cup heavy cream or ½ and ½

Filling method:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large pot or sauce pan heat olive oil and sauté onions over medium heat until translucent. Add butter and let it melt. Add flour and whisk into butter and onions, cook over medium heat until a thick paste has formed and has started to lightly brown, about 2 minutes.

Whisk in chicken stock and bullion, bring to a boil. The sauce should be significantly thickened, turn heat back down to medium and add the carrots and celery, and chicken. Cook for about 10 minutes until the carrots and celery have begun to soften. Add peas and potatoes and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper, about a tsp. each, or more to taste. Whisk in heavy cream and remove from heat.

Chicken Pot Pie assembly:

For full crust: Assemble the bottom crust of the pie and rub with butter (yes, more butter, but this will help the crust from becoming soggy).  Add the filling and top with an additional crust. Crimp edges.  And cut 3-4 vents in the top. Whisk one egg and brush lightly over the entire crust. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and ground pepper.  Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes or until top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling

For individual pot pies: Spoon filling into 4-6 ovenproof bowls (depending on their size). Roll out dough and cut into strips to create a lattice top, or cut into rounds large enough to drape over the edge of each bowl.  Brush the edge of the bowls with egg wash and top with crust. If you are using rounds, cut 2 vents in each. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and ground pepper. Bake at 350 for 18-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

A few notes:

You can buy roasted chicken, or roast your own. I used two large bone-in chicken breasts with skin on. I like to buy skin on because it keeps the breasts moist. My method is to rub each breast with olive oil, place them in a roasting pan skin side up and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast at 375 for about 35 minutes until they are cooked through and have an internal temperature of at least 170 degrees. Let the chicken cool , then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin, cut into a large dice.

Vodka in pie crust?! No, I’m not crazy. There is some science behind this.  Essentially the alcohol adds moisture without aiding in gluten formation, because gluten does not form in alcohol. For good flaky pie crust you want layers of fat and layers of gluten, and much of this is achieved by using cold ingredients and not allowing too much gluten to form too quickly. One other note- don’t skip that step about folding in the water/vodka, it makes a HUGE difference, trust me. There are a LOT of things I have learned about dough making over the past few years, but that’s a whole different post.

-Sue

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5 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods, Meat, Poultry, Recipes

5 responses to “Chicken Pot Pie

  1. Tracey Wieser

    Sue, that looks wonderful & I am going to try it this weekend! Nick is sure lucky to have you!

  2. Lee Ann

    Sue,
    I’m making this for my hubby for Valentine’s Day based on the ravings from Matt. My mouth is already watering!

  3. Lee Ann

    Excellent. I actually made up the filling and froze two small portions for a later meal. Then made up two individual servings with leftover pie crust from a cherry pie (minus the sugar in the crust.) I always seem to have leftover pie dough when I make a pie, and this is a great way to use it up.

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