January 13, 2007

A Chicken Pot Pie to Cherish

This recipe is very special to me. It was this recipe that made me fall in love with chicken pot pie – both eating it and making it! What I love most about this recipe, other than the fact that it tastes damn good, is the method behind it. There are many, many ways to make chicken pot pie, but I find this to be one of the most accessible and straightforward recipes, while still being completely homemade. It’s one of those master recipes that are just really nice to have in your repertoire.

The only short cut this has is to use boneless chicken breasts and canned chicken broth, instead of boiling a whole chicken to have your own stock, as some recipes instruct, so I guess that’s cheating a little. If you want to take 2 days to make this, you could certainly do that the day before. Or, if you’re really on top of things, this would be super easy to throw together if you have homemade stock and pie crusts already in the freezer. In the other direction, you could always use a frozen store-bought puff pastry for the crust if you are short on time.

This recipe came from The Silver Palate Good Times cookbook from 1985. As you can see, it has a horrible cover, but contains good recipes! A few things that make this recipe unique are baking the chicken in the cream, which makes it extremely tender, and the tarragon works nicely here, which you don't see often in pot pie recipes. I love old cookbooks like this one, especially with their introductions for each recipe. “After a long day of work and late shopping, there is nothing more comforting than a chicken pot pie. Prepare it the night before and pop it in the oven to back when you get home.”

Chicken Pot Pie

Pâte Brisée:
(I used all butter to avoid trans fats)

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3-6 Tbsp ice water

1. Cut up the butter into very small pieces and place in the refrigerator or freezer while you work with the other ingredients.

2. Place the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until mixture forms coarse small crumbs, about 10 – 15 seconds. Add 3 Tbsp ice water to the mixture and pulse until dough comes together a bit and holds together when you pinch the dough between your fingers.

3. Pour the dough out onto a cutting board and shape into a ball without over working the dough. Divide into 2 pieces and shape each into a flat round disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Chicken Filling:

1 ½ - 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup heavy cream
4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 small red potatoes, cut in 1-in chunks
(or 1 zucchini, sliced, per original recipe)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
¾ cup frozen green peas
5 Tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup cognac or dry white wine
1 Tbsp dried tarragon
2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 egg
1 tsp water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chicken in a baking dish in a single layer. Pour the cream over the chicken and bake for 25-40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts.

2. Remove the chicken from the cream, reserving the cream for the sauce. Once the chicken has cooled, cut it into 1 inch pieces.

3. Place the potatoes in a pot of cold water. Bring this to a boil. After 10 minutes, add the carrots and cook 5-10 minutes more until both the potatoes and carrots are fork tender. Drain and set the vegetables aside.

4. Melt the butter in a wide sauté pan, add the onions and cook until translucent. Sprinkle in the flour; stir and cook 5 minutes, but do not brown. Slowly add the broth to the onion mixture, whisking until the sauce smoothes out and thickens. (Which worked really well with my new flat whisk - a great tool!) Add the cream, cognac, tarragon, thyme, salt and pepper and cook 5 more minutes.

5. Add the chicken, potatoes, carrots and frozen peas to this sauce and mix gently. Pour mixture into a 2 quart casserole, soufflé dish, or large ramekins for individual pot pies.

6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

7. Roll out the pastry into a large circle and place over the dish or cut the pastry to fit the ramekins. Press down the pastry edges, folding them as necessary. Beat together the egg and water and brush over the top of the pastry to give a nice glossy finish to the crust. Cut a few steam vents in the pastry and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Serves 6.


Genie said...

Megan, this recipe sounds so good and comforting. It's perfect for an icy Iowa night like tonight! Thanks for sharing it.

:-) Genie

Tanna said...

That is a good book, used it many times but not for the chicken pot pie. This looks really excellent.

s'kat said...

You know, I had an odd craving the other day for chicken pot pie, and you have brought it back full force. That looks great!

Ivonne said...

It looks wonderful, Megan! I love the golden top!

Princess Banter said...

Oooh that looks really good! I should give it a try... hopefully it's not too hard

Anonymous said...

OK, that pot pie looks and sounds irresistable. I've had the Good Times cookbook forever and have never made it. But I think I'm going to have to.

walkawaydirrty said...

I MADE IT!!! Got a few things to learn about making pastry dough, but other than that, it was awesome!!

Anonymous said...

This is my new favorite recipe! I've made it twice now and found ways to perfect the crust. It's delicious and something I'll make for years to come. Thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

I made this recipe twice so far and it has been a HUGE hit every time. thank you so much for sharing this. i can honestly say this is the BEST chicken pot pie I have ever had.

* A cheat note for the pastry: if you don't have the skill or patience to make your own pastry, DuFour makes the most incredible puff pastry and it is killer with this recipe

Anonymous said...

Chez, is great!! I'm sorry, I made my own chicken pot pie filling.. But, the crust is excellent, forgive me MOM !! It is better than yours!!!

michelle said...

Has anyone ever tried to freeze this recipe after it has been cooked?

girlrobot said...

I made this tonight....it was so yummy!!! Thanks!!