Chicken Pot Pie

Nothing says “comfort food” like chicken pot pie. This recipe is an amalgamation of several I’ve used over the years, and it will make two pies. Seriously, if you’re gonna buy all the ingredients to make one pie, you might as well make two and save yourself the dinner prep. Amirite? I highly recommend getting your hands on a few of those disposable aluminum pans (pictured below.) They’re easy to use and freeze, and there’s no cleanup!

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Filling Ingredients:

One 2- to 3-pound chicken fryer, pulled and cut up
(Buy a pre-cooked chicken and save yourself the hassle.)
3-4 celery stalks, diced
3-4 medium carrots, peeled & diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 shallot, minced
4-5 Tbsp. butter (a bit more than half a stick)
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. chicken stock (2 cups = 1 pint)
1/8-1/4 cup cooking sherry, optional
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. buttermilk
dried thyme
dried dill weed
garlic powder
salt/pepper

Pastry Crust Ingredients:

2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. shortening
6 Tbsp. cold water
4-5 additional Tbsp. cold water as needed
dried thyme

Crust Preparation:

Do this before you start doing prep work for the pie itself. The dough needs to rest awhile in the fridge.

Combine flour and salt in a large glass bowl.
Add shortening.
Cut the flour and shortening together with a pastry cutter, large fork, or your fingers until the pieces are the size of small peas.
Sprinkle the 6 Tbsp of cold water over mixture. Gently toss to combine.
Add dried thyme.
Add more water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until dough is moist and workable. You don’t want it gooey or wet, and you don’t want it dry and crumbly. Think Goldilocks – just right.
Cut the dough in half and roll into balls.
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.

 

Filling Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400.

Shred the chicken and set aside.
Dice the vegetables. Goldilocks again – not too big and not too small.

In your stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add onions and shallots and sweat them until nearly translucent.
Add carrots and celery to the pot. Saute a few minutes.
Add chicken. Give it a stir to combine.

Sprinkle the flour over the mixture in the pot. Stir gently for a few minutes to cook down the flour in the butter. Butter+flour is called a roux (pronounced “rew.”) That’s a fancy french cooking word for thickener. Don’t short change this step or your pie will taste like raw flour.

Pour in chicken stock. Stir it up. Little darlin’ stir it up. Let it combine with roux.
Slowly pour in cream and buttermilk, stirring constantly. Reduce to low heat and let the pie filling thicken gradually about 5 min. Stir it occasionally.
If it’s still sorta runny, throw a dash of cornstarch into the pot and stir thoroughly. The cornstarch will tighten it up. A little goes a long way, so be careful.
Season with thyme, dill, salt, pepper to taste. And you will have to taste. Use a clean spoon each time, please. You weren’t born in a barn.
When it’s seasoned just right, and the consistency is creamy (not runny,) remove from heat and set aside.

Assembly:

Get the disposable pans and place them on a cookie sheet.
Pour equal amounts of filling into each tin. Do not fill to the brim or your pie will blurp all over and the crust won’t get crispy. If you have extra filling, pour into a storage container and save for lunch tomorrow. (Creamy chicken soup, yay!)

Remove the pastry crust from the fridge. Roll each one out on a floured surface.
Gently and carefully, lift the pastry crust and place on top of the pie. Pinch down the edges around the edge of the pan to seal it. Cut a few vents in the top for steam to escape.

Beat an egg in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash over the tops of the pies to help them brown.

Tear a large sheet of aluminum foil and tent it over your pies. The pies will be mostly covered with loose foil, but don’t wrap it to the pan or cover them tightly.
Bake for 25 min covered.
Remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 15-25 min or until golden but not browned.
Remove from oven and cool pies on a wire rack for 10-15 min before serving.

If you are freezing one of the pies, follow the instructions above except don’t put the crust on top. Pour the filling into a disposable pan and let it cool a little. Cover with plastic wrap and foil. Freeze without the crust, and just whip up the crust later when you’re ready to bake it. At that time, apply the crust and egg wash, and bake as instructed above.

chxpie3

See? That wasn’t so bad. If this is your first time making a pastry crust, give yourself a pat on the back! It’s tricky. It’s typically something done by feel, not by rote. The measurements provided are estimates, and you need to tune the ingredients to suit your personal tastes and your environment.

Recipes like this are hard to get down on paper because they are constantly shifting and changing. I encourage you to make it your own. If you don’t like celery, don’t add it! Want to put some peas, red bell pepper, or some diced potatoes in? Go for it! Do you have half a bag of frozen mixed veggies left in the freezer? Toss ’em in! Flavor and season your pies to taste. That’s what cooking is about.

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