I have decided that taking a "good" picture of one of the best homemade meals is practically impossible. Chicken pot pie is one of my favorite dishes to eat and is a definite winner in my household among even the most finicky eaters. Aesthetically speaking, however, it doesn't yield the prettiest of pictures.
When I was growing up, I actually grew to hate chicken pot pie. My mom can attest to this. Back in the olden days, meaning before microwaves, it was about the only thing we could prepare ourselves on nights when my mom was teaching late. Preheat the oven, take out the Swanson's pot pies from their blue boxes, puncture the crust several time with your fork, put it in the oven, and wait. I think, for kids, we did a much better job at the waiting bit than kids today. We really had no choice. Those tiny individual pies had to cook at least 40 minutes before they were just brown enough on top and cooked through. For a while I did love those little bubbly pies and the almost burnt rims that I saved for my last bites. Eat the middle first and work your way to the outside. Yet, after consuming so many pot pies over the course of a year, I came to dread those frozen boxes.
Yet, times have changed and so have my cooking abilities. I have learned to make pot pies from scratch, and today I wouldn't have it any other way. The recipe I use was adapted from
The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. With a few changes here and there, I have made it my own. And, with a few shortcuts, it's easy as...well, pie.
For this recipe, I roasted a small chicken during the day. Don't feel the need to do the same. You could just as easily buy a rotisserie chicken already cooked from your grocery store or you could buy a mix of chicken breasts and dark meat and roast them in the oven at a quicker speed. The key is to use fresh meat because it really adds to the richness of the chicken/vegetable mixture.
I have made it in the past using my own crust, which is great if you happen to have pie crusts stored up in your freezer. We all do, right? In this version, I used a frozen crust from Trader Joe's, and I don't think you really could tell the difference. You only need one crust to go on top. If you'd like, you can do one on the bottom and one on top. However, you will need to pre-bake the bottom crust before adding the filling. Otherwise, you will end up with a soggy crust.
Pie filling before pie dough is added
The filling is simple, and the longest part is actually chopping all of those beautiful vegetables. Pictures of chopped vegetables do come out beautifully. The more colors the better. In my pot pie, I found multi-colored carrots that really add a great texture to the look of the pie: purples, yellows, and oranges. Celery and peas add some green and chopped potatoes add some white to the mixture.
What are those!? Carrots. Aren't they pretty?
What really adds to the taste in this particular recipe is the combined flavors of a cup of white wine and chopped shallots. I prefer shallots over onions because they really add a richness without all of the acidity of plain onions once they are cooked and then combined with the white wine. They just plain go together.
The filling can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use. You could also make the entire thing and then freeze the pie for another day.
For a print-friendly version of the recipe, click
1 3-4 pound whole chicken
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup of water
3 carrots, peeled and finely diced
3 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 shallots, finely diced
2 small russet potatoes, unpeeled, diced into small pieces
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas (if frozen, thaw ahead of time)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups free-range chicken broth
1 cup dry, white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 refrigerated pie crust
For the chicken:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place in roaster pan, lining the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Season with salt and pepper. I like to add a stalk of celery, one carrot, and one lemon in the cavity, but it isn't necessary for this dish. It does slightly flavor the chicken if you want to add it.
Pour one cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan for moisture. Cover the chicken lightly with foil. Bake for 35 minutes, covered. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until chicken is browned. Remove from oven and allow chicken to cool down before handling.
Once cool enough, remove the chicken meat from the bones and chop into smallish pieces, about 1-inch chunks.
For the filling:
In a stockpot, melt your butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, shallots, and potatoes. Season with a little salt and pepper. Continue cooking the vegetables over medium heat until they soften and the shallots are translucent, stirring continually for about 10 minutes. Add in the chopped chicken and peas.
Sprinkle the flour and dried thyme over the vegetable/chicken mixture and stir gently to mix it in and coat the vegetables.
Slowly add in the broth, stirring to mix it in with the flour. Then, add in the wine, still stirring. Cook the mixture for a couple of minutes to make sure the flour and liquids are well-mixed. Pour in the heavy cream and turn the temperature to low. Continue stirring and cooking over low heat until the gravy has thickened, about 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9-inch deep pie dish by spraying with a little cooking spray. Pour the chicken/vegetable mixture into the pie dish. Place your pie dough over top of the mixture and crimp any way you like. Work fast, however, because the heat from the filling will soften the dough fast. Place the pie onto a cookie sheet just in case it bubbles over while baking. Then cut slits into the top of the pie crust for easy breathing.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until your crust is browned according to your picky standards. Cool for 10 minutes before dishing it out.
Note: If you would like to freeze the pot pie, prepare everything as listed above. However, allow the vegetable/chicken mixture to cool before adding it to the pie dish. Place the dough on top, cover the pie with plastic wrap or foil, and place in the freezer. You can bake it at 375 degrees straight from the freezer. Just remove the foil or wrap and bake for 45 minutes, just like the good old days!