Pot Pie. Chicken Pot Pie.

Chicken Pot PieThursday, The Beloved and I invited Shellie and her friend Natalie to come and Dine with us. They are both freshmen at NC State in Raleigh and are Sick and Tired of Cafeteria food. Enter: moi.

Now since I’m not really a planner, I didn’t decide what we were having until about 1:00 on Thursday. As a result, I spent hours getting ready. If, however, you are a planner, you can get some prep done early and have this meal on the table in about an hour or so.  It may not fit your usual weeknight schedule, but it’s certainly doable on a day  when you have some extra time.

And the payoff? Lots:

  1. You can use up leftovers.
  2. You can season it however you like.
  3. You can add seasoning to the crust. Stouffer’s hasn’t figured that one out yet, unless you count BHA and BHT.
  4. Happy, happy diners.

Here are the steps I took to make Mr. Pot Pie. You can choose to go through all of them yourself, or you can just use a few. I’ve offered a few short-cut ideas along the way. Me, I like to take The Long Way, which is why I often find myself caught in blackberry thickets or treed by bears.

Steps to Pot Pie Nirvana
The Long Way Short Cuts
  • Simmer chicken in stock to make a double-strength  stock
  • Pull off meat once cooked. Leave skin and bones in pot to continue simmering
  • Dice up veggies lying around in crisper drawer
  • Make all-butter pie crust and season however you like
  • Make a veloute-type sauce with stock/cream/roux/seasonings
  • Use canned/boxed stock; use meat from a rotisserie chicken from the store.
  • Use your favorite frozen veggie blend. Traditional would be a Veg-All Type mix.
  • Use store-bought puff pastry (all-butter, if you can find it. Dufours is a good brand)
  • Use a good brand of Cream-of-Whatever soup, thinned a bit with a touch of milk, cream and/or stock

The bonus from making my own stock is that I now have extra to use in soup or posole (which I am Strongly considering making soon) or Whatever.

I made my stock pretty simply with onion and celery and seasoned it with some black peppercorns, a bit of thyme and rosemary, and lemon zest. I love lemon and/or lemon zest in chicken stock. I think it brightens it and adds a nice citrus note that kind of cuts through the richness of the eventual pot pie.  Oh, and I think leaving the skin on when you make your stock is a great idea. That’s where a lot of collagen lives, so leaving it in adds richness and gelatin to the final product.

The crust is just a standard 3-2-1 crust that I seasoned with poultry seasoning and black pepper.  The amount I made was enough to cover a 9″x13″ pan with a generous overhang. I also left the butter in pretty large chunks (marbles, pretty much) and rolled it fairly thick–about 3/8″ thick. This gave me kind of a “rough puff” pastry. It didn’t rise incredibly, but there were definitely some crisp, flaky layers that were a nice foil to the rich, creamy filling.

Here’s how to make the crust:

Seasoned Flaky Pie Crust
Recipe type: component
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
This recipe made a bit more than I actually needed, but the 3-2-1 math was easier with these measurements, so I just went with it. You would probably be fine starting with 10 or 11 ounces of flour.

Note the 3-2-1 ratio of flour:butter:water

Here's my video on how to properly mix and roll out pie crust.
What You Need
  • 12 oz all purpose flour (about 3 cups, measured with aerate/spoon/sweep method)
  • 8 oz cold butter, cut into chunks
  • about 4 oz ice cold water (give or take)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar (mainly for browning)
  • about ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • about ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • several grindings of black pepper
What To Do
  1. Note the 3-2-1 ratio of flour:butter:water
  2. Here's my video on how to properly mix and roll out pie crust.
  3. Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and seasonings.
  4. Toss in the butter. Rub in with the tips of your fingers in a rubbing motion until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of marbles.
  5. Very slowly drizzle in the water, a bit at a time, tossing lightly between additions, until the dough is just barely starting to come together.
  6. Squeeze a bit of dough together in your hand. If it all sticks together easily, you're done. If not, keep adding a tiny bit of water at a time, testing the dough each time. Be very conservative with the addition of water as adding too much can activate too much gluten, giving you a crust that fights back when you try to roll it and shrinks up when baked.
  7. Once your dough is ready, plop it on a large sheet of parchment paper and press it down a bit. Cover it with another sheet of parchment, and roll it out in a rough rectangle (if you're using a rectangular pan. If you're making this in a round casserole, roll it into a circle) about 2" larger in diameter than what you need.
  8. Put in the fridge for at least ½ hour to hydrate.

 

Once you have made your crust and it’s hanging out in the fridge, it’s time to make the filling. And yes, you can make the pastry the day before and leave it in the fridge. Or make it way ahead and keep it in the freezer until you need it.

Rich and Creamy Chicken Pot Pie
Recipe type: Casserole/Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Yum. That pretty much says it all. This recipe is unabashedly full of fat. Trim where you see fit. You can cut back on the butter if you want, or use whole milk instead of heavy cream. I wouldn't advise going much lighter than that for the best texture, though.
What You Need
  • 3 oz butter
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, or to taste
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 container of your favorite mushrooms. I used button, washed, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste. I also used some white pepper, because I like it.
  • 2 oz flour
  • about 1 cup each of chicken stock (homemade or low sodium) and heavy cream
  • 5-6 small-ish red skinned potatoes, diced. I left the skins on. You can peel yours if you want
  • about a cup of green peas. I used frozen organic guys
  • about 2½ to 3 cups of diced or shredded cooked chicken. (poached while you were Stock Making or from a previously cooked bird)
  • Fresh tender herbs of your choice. I used dill because it's what I had.
  • Your Pie Crust
What To Do
  1. In a large, preheated saute pan, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery along with salt, pepper and the poultry seasoning.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until the vegetables have softened a bit.
  3. Toss in the zucchini and mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid. Continue cooking until most of that liquid has evaporated.
  4. Stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes.
  5. Pour in the stock and cream and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  6. Stir in the potatoes, peas and chicken.
  7. Spread evenly in a buttered casserole dish. Toss some fresh herbs on top (use tender herbs here--no rosemary or sage, and no woody thyme stems). Good choices are marjoram, dill, tarragon or parsley.
  8. Lay the pastry on top of the filling, cut any overhang to no more than ¾" or so. Tuck the remaining overhang in on itself so you have a double thickness. If your filling comes up to the top of your dish, press the dough onto the rim. If it doesn't (mine didn't), just tuck it in like I did. (See picture below recipe).
  9. Cut a few slits in the crust for Venting and bake at 375 until a lovely golden brown. The filling should be all bubbly and wonderful. This will take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven. If the crust is browning too much before the filling is bubbling merrily, cover the pie loosely with foil.
  10. Remove from the oven and let cool about 15 minutes or so before serving.
Other Stuff to Know
I used the vegetables I had on hand. Feel free to use your favorites.

The only reason this guy didn't have carrots in him is that I forgot to buy some.

 

Here’s what the pie looks like before baking: Chicken Pot Pie

And here it is after:
Chicken Pot Pie

I don’t know about you, but I think he’s gorgeous. He tasted every bit as good as he looked, and the Co-Eds were very happy. Mission accomplished, even if I did get a few blackberry thorns caught in my hair!

I do hope you try this guy, or some variation. And with Thanksgiving coming up, this would be a fantastic way to use up some of your leftovers. After all, the only thing better than chicken pot pie is turkey pot pie.

If you’re a fan of homemade pot pie–or of your mom’s or grandma’s or the cafe’s down the street–I’d love to hear what ingredients you like to find under the crust.Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a lovely day.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Tracey@Tangled Noodle says

    That is indeed a gorgeous pot pie! Almost makes me wish for chilly weather so I can snuggle up with a plateful… almost. ;-)

    • says

      I have to say that we were in Pot Pie Nirvana eating it, too! Usually when I spend a long time making something, I’m not in the mood to eat it until the following day. Not with this–I devoured it right along w/the co-eds! lol

  2. says

    I used this as inspiration for making chicken pot pie last week. I needed something delicious, comforting, and ready to eat to take to a friend whose twins are in the NICU. I will admit that I didn’t make my own stock or pie crust and I used a rotisserie chicken for the meat. But it was still soooo good! (I know because I made two – hee hee!)

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