Chicken pot pies?
- The Librarian Mar 21, 2010 11:51 AM
My entire family has suddenly developed an obsession with chicken pot pies. I've never made one. I'm looking for tips and not-too-complicated recipes for the classic American Swanson-type pot pie. Thanks!
You know, this was one of Bittman's few recipes that sound totally unappealing to me. Thickened with cornstarch - strike one. And biscuit-topped savory pies just aren't my thing.
I've never followed a recipe for it, because it's so forgiving. The classic version to me means lots of vegetables, though I'm not a fan of potatoes or peas in this dish. More onion than you think it needs, plus carrots and celery. I usually add a little garlic. Sage and thyme, or poultry seasoning if you prefer. Mix together with chunks of cooked chicken in chicken broth. Thicken with roux or just plain flour shaken in a mason jar with milk (that's how granny used to do it) till it's starting to hold together really well, and turn it into a regular unbaked pie crust (made without sugar). Top with a second crust and bake till the crust is brown.
It's a pretty hard dish to mess up, I think. Keeping the chicken covered with sauce means it won't dry out even if you use all white meat.
Mine is simple. Take leftover chicken cleaned from the bones or use a rotisseried chicken from the grocery store. Place the meat in a casserole. Put whatever veggies you're using -- I like carrots, potatoes and boiling onions -- in a container and steam for about 5 minutes for large two-bite sized pieces. Reserve the water used for steaming. Add these veggies to the casserole. Top with frozen peas and anything soft like mushrooms. Sprinkle on chopped parsley and herbs.
Now make a roux with some butter and flour. Stir in the veggie water and any poultry juices plus chicken broth to make a thickish gravy which will be thinned during cooking as the veggies give up additional juices. I season the gravy and not the veggies or chicken. Pour over the items in the casserole and stir to combine.
Top with whatever strikes your fancy: a pastry crust, a slab of biscuit dough, individual rolled or dropped biscuits, layers of filo brushed with butter. Vent if your crust encloses the whole top but I like the slab of biscuit with about a 1" margin exposed for the gravy to bubble up around it. Brush with cream or buttermilk and bake about 30 minutes in a hot oven about 375˚.
I prefer using uncooked diced chicken (as does Bittman). It contributes more flavor to the gravy than does leftover cooked meat. I discovered this when making chicken a la king. Initially I used leftover cooked chicken but didn't like the fact that the pieces were in shreds by the time I'd finished all the stirring and thickening. When I started using skinless, boneless, raw chicken, not only was the texture better, with distinct pieces of meat, but I noticed that the whole dish tasted more chicken-y.
I've never cooked the chicken in the pie. I've poached breasts to make a CPP (as it's known at my house) but, in practical fact, it's how I use up an already cooked chicken.
Doesn't mean that your way doesn't have more flavor -- I'm willing to believe that if you tell me so.
But I don't have any stringiness. I cut everything in very large chunks. I cut carrots in at least 1 1/2" lengths and everything else correspondingly large. That's why I steam them a bit first. And that works for us to have a very hearty texture.
Yes, shredding is more of an issue with chicken a la king and other stew-like dishes that involve considerable stirring. Pot pie requires comparatively little. I mentioned this because it was in dealing with the a la king shredding issue that I discovered a preference for the flavor when uncooked chicken is used. In any "creamed" chicken dishes, if I am starting with cooked chicken I add a little Better Than Bouillon chicken base to jack up the chicken flavor.
Shredding isn't a problem if you just don't stew the already-cooked chicken with your sauce/gravy and vegetables. I thicken everything the way I want it, put my veggies in and get them started, and then at the very very last, just before topping with the crust, I stir through my chunks of chicken. If it's chicken a la king, I just warm it through at that point. If it's CPP, it gets topped and into the oven. Never have a problem with stringy chicken that way.
I made CPP this week for the first time. I wasn't in the mood for making pastry so I have to admit to buying pastry shells in foil cos we like pastry underneath too and ready rolled frozen for the top.
I used a rotisserie chicken cut up, parboiled potatoe cubes, fried celery onion and mushrooms, mixed all the vegetables together with a little cajun seasoning, tabasco, salt and pepper then made a white sauce with nutmeg, combined all and baked. Came out great.
Jfood Chicken Pot Pie
Left over chicken or three single breasts
1 onion diced
6 T butter
1/ 3 C flour
2 ½ C chicken broth
1 16oz pkg peas, carrots, corn and beans
Pepperidge Farm puff pastry (One sheet)
Salt & Pepper
Pennzy’s Old World Seasoning (or any dry seasonings you like)
• Begin to defrost the puff pastry. This will take about 40 minutes
• Heat stock in a pot until simmering
• Melt butter in sided 10-12” pan and cooked onions over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
• Add flour and continue to cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat for 2 minutes, until you obtain a blondish color.
• Add simmering stock in several batches to mixture, whisk after each until smooth. Season with ~1teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon Old World Seasoning
• Remove from heat and add chicken, and vegetables. Mix completely.
• Place in Pyrex baking dish, cover with foil.
• Place Puff pastry on top of a baking sheet that has been sprayed with Pam
• Bake both in a 350 degrees oven for 40-45 minutes until pastry is golden brown
Then serve a nice mound of filling and lace a pice of puff pastry on top.
Thanks for your recipe, JFood...nine months later....
Minnesota is covered in snow. Temps tonight will be sub zero. I am starting my cooking soon. Only adjustments, I think, will be to add 1 cup cream and reduce chicken broth by 1 cup, and use sage for seasoning. I love pot pies with puff pastry crusts!
I found a great CPP recipe from Cook's country (feb/mar '07) that is freezer friendly, so you can make a bunch and have them in your freezer for whenever the mood hits your gang! I've used this recipe for a family of five who were expected their 4th baby and they raved about it.
Freezer Chicken Pot Pies
1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
5 ½ cups chicken broth
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery rib, chopped fine
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup milk
2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 boxes Pillsbury pie crust
1 large egg, beaten plus 1 large egg, beaten for baking
1 ½ cups frozen peas
6 2-cup disposable aluminum loaf pans
To make ahead:
Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp.oil in large Dutch oven over high heat until just smoking. Cook chicken until well browned, about 2 ½ minutes per side. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until chicken is cooked through, 6-8 minutes. Transfer chicken to large plate and strain broth into bowl.
Melt butter with remaining tbsp. oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Cook onions, carrots, celery, and ¼ tsp. salt until lightly browned and softened, 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in reserved broth, milk and thyme and simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, using 2 forks, shred chicken into bite-size pieces. Off heat, add chicken, lemon juice to the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Transfer filling to medium bowl and cool until just warm. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
Unwrap and unroll pie crusts onto lightly floured surface. Brush one pie crust with beaten egg. Place second crust over egg-washed dough. Use a disposable pan turned upside down to cut out 3 pastry toppings from double-thick pie dough. Repeat with 2 more pie crusts, making 3 more.
Stir frozen peas into cold filling and divide mixture among the six disposable pans. Top with pastry and use a fork to seal edges. Using a paring knife make 3 steam vents in each crust. Tightly wrap each loaf pan in 2 layers of plastic wrap and 1 layer of foil. Freeze for up to 2 months.
When ready to serve:
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap frozen pot pies and arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Brush crusts with egg, cover with foil, and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until crusts are brown, about 35 minutes. Let pot pies rest 10 minutes before serving.
This isn't probably what you're looking for, but back when I was in college I used to make what I called "ghetto chicken pot pie" using PIlsbury frozen biscuit dough and Campbell's condensed chicken soup. Used a ramekin that also did double duty for baked eggs, and an stand for steaming veggies.
Gourmet? Nope. Good eatin'? Sure thing for a money starved college student.
For a lighter version, I remember that Cooking Light had a CCP on the cover of it's 20th (I think) anniversary issue a couple years ago, saying it was their best recipe ever. I made it and liked it, I remember it was flavored with fresh thyme.