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
(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 tsp water
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.