Chicken pot pie. Nothing says ‘comfort food’ better than tender chicken and vegetables in a rich gravy, covered with a flaky, buttery pastry crust.
Nothing says “Comfort Food” to me quite like a chicken pot pie. When I was in high school, I used to beg my mom to buy those little frozen pot pies for me so that I could heat them up for an after school snack. I literally had to beg, too, because my mom was vehemently opposed to any form of frozen or processed food. She was scarred by a few too many TV dinners in the ’60’s. Of course, once I had a real, homemade pot pie, I never bought another one of those little frozen ones again.
Chicken pot pie is one of my “things.” You know the things that people ask you to make for them? The things that you bring to friends & neighbors when they have a life event? The things you make when you are in need of some serious comfort food? Those type of things. Chicken pot pie is one of my things.
But before I go on, I must admit that I will never, ever, ever again think of Chicken Pot Pie without hearing David Cross in my mind.
Way before he was Uncle Ian in Alvin & the Chipmunks, he was a stand up comic & buddy of David Spade. Mr. Cross played Donny, the scheming brother of Elliot the Photographer in David Spade’s ’90’s TV show Just Shoot Me. Donny feigned a head injury that seemingly compromised his intellect, so that his mother would have to take care of him forever–all as a great ruse to avoid having to move out and get a grown-up job. He would randomly bust out with a “Chicken pot, chicken pot, chicken pot pie!” Classic.
But back to the comfort food chicken pot pie: a creamy, vegetable-studded chicken filling encased in a buttery, flaky crust. Yeah. You know you want some.
I’ve made chicken pot pie from every end of the spectrum. I’ve roasted a whole chicken, then picked it for the meat, and made stock out of the rest. That is a heck of a good pot pie…if you have 7 hours to dedicate to making pot pie. I’ve tried to speed things up by using frozen veggies & cream of something soups for the filling. (Never again.) I’ve made my own crust. Used store bought crust. Single crust. Double crust. No crust, but a biscuit topping. (Say what?! That’s a cobbler!) You name it, I’ve tried it. This recipe is my favorite combination of all good things going into a chicken pot pie.
Preheat the oven to 400º F. Grab an 9 or 10-inch deep dish pie plate, and keep it handy.
You’ll need: 1 Recipe for No Excuses Pie Dough, cooked chicken, chicken stock, milk, butter, onion, carrots, celery, dried thyme, salt, pepper, all purpose flour, and a touch of olive oil.
Bottom line: Chicken pot pie is an excellent application for leftover chicken. In the absence of leftovers, I use a store bought rotisserie chicken is another great alternative. And when I can get two rotisserie chickens at the store for $5, you better believe that I’m going with the easy option!
If you’re like me and take the easy route with a rotisserie chicken, you’re going to have to “pick it.” Just channel your inner Paula Deen and start pickin’ chickens. Remove the skin, and get as much meat from the bones as possible.
I usually get about 4 cups of shredded meat off of a rotisserie chicken. The recipe only calls for 2 cups, so I put the rest in a freezer bag for another time. Place the shredded chicken into a large bowl, and set it aside.
If you are really on top of your menu planning, go ahead and get the chicken ready the night before you plan to make the pot pie. Just seal the chicken in a bag, and refrigerate it until you’re ready to make the pie.
Slice a small onion, root to tip.
Lop off the ends of the onion halves, and remove the outer skin and membrane.
Dice the onion, and set it aside.
Give the carrots a good scrub, and slice them in half lengthwise. Slice the halves widthwise into half moons. Set the with the diced onion to hang out for a bit.
Rinse the celery ribs, and thinly slice them widthwise.
You can also chop the vegetables the night before, and store them in the ‘fridge overnight.
Heat a little olive oil in a Dutch oven or very large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and saute the veggies until they are soft–about 5 minutes. Season the veggies with a hefty pinch of kosher salt, and pepper.
Add the softened vegetables to the bowl o’ chicken.
Toss the butter into the still hot Dutch oven, and let it melt. Once the butter melts, it will foam up a bit. That’s OK.
Once the butter starts foaming, sprinkle in the flour, and stir vigorously. Continue cooking and stirring the flour/butter mixture for one minute. The flour will help thicken the sauce, but cooking it for a minute or so will help get rid of the flour-y taste.
After one minute, pour in the milk, whisking to combine.
Then pour in the chicken stock. Continue to whisk the mixture until it gets nice and smooth–no lumps. Be sure to get all the brown bits o’ goodness off the bottom of the pan. There’s flavor in those little bits!
Once the sauce is smooth, add the dried thyme and another pinch of salt & pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the sauce until it fully thickens…stirring constantly.
Taste the sauce, and adjust the seasonings to taste. The sauce should be creamy, savory, and delicious. No bland fillings allowed!
Pour the sauce over the chicken/vegetable mixture and stir to coat.
Add the peas to the filling mixture and fold them in.
Just look at that creamy goodness! Cover the filling with aluminum foil to keep it warm while you roll out the pie dough.
I highly recommend making your own pie dough–it really isn’t that difficult. But hey, if the thought of making pie pastry gives you the heebees, then by all means, use the store bought stuff. You won’t hurt my feelings at all. Well, you might hurt them a little, but I’ll get over it.
Once the bottom crust is ready, ladle the warm chicken filling into it.
Roll out the top crust, and place it over the filling.
Trim the edges of the dough so that only 1 inch hangs over the pie plate.
Fold the edges of both sheets of dough under, lightly pinching to seal.
The dough really shouldn’t hang over the edge of the pie plate. Now comes the fun part–the edging! There are several ways to put a decorative edge a pie. Bhg.com has a great illustration of seven different decorative pie edges. I typically apply one of the same two edges to my pies: A criss-cross edge, also called a bird-foot edge, or a fluted edge.
For a criss-cross edge, press the edge of the dough with a fork held at a 45º angle pointing toward the left.
Then switch angles by pressing the edge of the dough with a fork held at a 45º angle pointing toward the right. Continue around the edge of the pie.
Kind of looks like a little bird danced on the edge of the pie, eh? It’s a very fast, cute edge, and is certainly functional in that the main purpose of edging a pie is to seal the dough so that the filling doesn’t spill all over the bottom of your oven while it bakes.
You could certainly cut a few slits to vent the pie, pop it in the oven, and be on your merrily-baking-way. OR, you could opt for trying my most-favorite pie edge…the fluted edge.
After rolling out the top crust, cut a couple of 1-inch shapes out of the center with a small cookie cutter, or, if you’ve got mad knife skills, a paring knife. Save the cut-outs for later.
Place the top crust over the filling, and trim the edges to about a 1-inch overhang.
Flip the edges of the dough over forward over the top of the dough, lightly pinching to seal.
Use the index finger of one hand to push on the inner folded-edge of the dough, while at the same time, pressing against the outer edge of the dough with the index finger and thumb of your other hand. Continue around the edge of the pie.
If you are feeling a little fancy-pants, then brush the top of the dough with a little egg wash to make it shine.
Grab the little piece of dough that you cut-out of the center of the top crust, and put them on another part of the pie.
Brush the cut-outs with a little egg wash, so that they will shine, too.
Bake the pie in the preheated 400º F oven for 35-40 minutes or until nicely golden brown.
Let the pie rest for 10 minutes before serving. Then slice it up, and dig in!
Oh, and in the interest of making a long post even longer, here is the clip of David Cross’s Donny character when he gets busted, and the gig is up. It’s worth the minute and a half video. And it explains the inner workings of a vacuum tube, so it’s educational, too!
And finally, what you’ve all been waiting for:
The chicken pot pie recipe!!