This weekend, I made chicken pot pies for a dinner with friends. I’d made this recipe only once before, and now I was going to be making it for three times as many people in someone else’s kitchen, so I was a bit nervous about the whole thing. (That’s a pie from the first attempt batch to the right.)
The great thing about pot pies is that you can fill them with whatever you want. The ones I’ve encountered (and honestly, I’ve never really liked pot pies before) usually had peas, carrots and corn—often the kind you could tell came out of the frozen veggie section. I’m not totally opposed to frozen veggies—depending what they are, they can be just as good as fresh—but those peas-and-carrots mixes…yeck. I’m also not a fan of peas. (Oddly, I do like dry-roasted peas…) Or carrots, really. And not so much on the corn, either.
So, given my weird vegetable prejudices, what do I put into my pot pies? Celery, fresh local mushrooms and carrots (I know, I said I don’t like ‘em, but I can tolerate them). I wouldn’t be against fresh corn kernels, but it’s not in season right now. The last time I made these, I also put in fresh local asparagus, but this time the asparagus I had in the vegetable bin had gone kind of weird and slimy, so I figured it best not to try and feed it to people.
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cooking at Home by Chuck Williams and Kristine Kidd.
Chicken Pot Pies
I like to make these in cute little individual dishes, but as per the original recipe, you can make it in a 9-inch pie dish. The dough should be made first, that way you can let it chill in the fridge while you do all your chopping and cook the filling. You can also use frozen pastry dough, if you’re not feeling particularly Suzy Homemaker-y.
Makes 4 very ample or 6 somewhat modest servings
For the filling (Adjust vegetable quantity to your heart’s desire. You want somewhere around a cup of each, chopped into ¼ – ½-inch chunks or slices; I happen to like chunks, but you might think slices are prettier.):
- 2-3 shallots, small diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, small diced
- 1-2 carrots
- 2-3 stalks celery
- 6-8 thin stalks asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 tray (4 oz.) ali‘i mushrooms (also known as king oyster; you can substitute regular white or button mushrooms
- 4 chicken thighs (about 1 ¼ lbs.) , skinned and de-boned, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup half-and-half or cream (I like half-and-half to keep the dish lighter)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¼ cup flour
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley, minced
- Fresh thyme (you can also use any combination of herbs you like: rosemary and oregano would also be quite nice)
- 1 egg yolk
Pre-heat the oven to 400°.
Melt butter in a large, deep pan. Add chicken and cook ‘til browned. Add shallots and garlic, cook until softened, then add the rest of the vegetables. Sprinkle with the flour, season with salt and pepper and add the herbs. Stir thoroughly.
Add the liquids, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. If you like your filling to be on the thicker side, you may need to add a bit of flour mixed with wine or broth to thicken it up at this point. Set aside while you prepare the crust (recipe below).
Roll out the dough to one-eighth inch thickness. Using your pie dishes (I use ramekins, because that’s what I’ve got) as a guide, cut out circles of dough large enough to overhang the edge of the dish slightly. Beat egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water. Brush edges of crust, along the border, with egg yolk mixture. Portion out the filling into individual dishes and cover with crust, egg yolk side down. Press the edges down firmly; if you want to get fancy, use the tines of a fork to crimp the edges too. Prick the crust with a fork or cut slits with a knife to create small vents. Brush the crust tops with egg yolk.
Place on a baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes, until crusts are golden. Serve hot.
For the crust:
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
- 3-4 tablespoons cold water
Pulse flour and salt in a food processor to combine. Scatter butter on top and pulse a few times, until you have a mix of irregular flakes of dough and small bits of butter. Add 2 tablespoons cold water, pulse again about five times times. Add another tablespoon of water and pulse again 3 or 4 times. The dough should be damp to the touch; if it is not, add more water by teaspoons. Pulse as little as possible; the dough should look like wet, shaggy sand—you DON’T want it to come together into a ball.
Transfer dough to a large plastic zip-top bag or wrap it in plastic wrap. Shape it into a disk for easy storage and rolling later. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to cover the pies.
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