Chicken Pot Pie
October 27, 2011
After 15 years in Chicago, I’ve come to really dread winter. I think it was last winter that did me in, and they say that this winter is going to be even worse. I used to love winter! The biggest problem is having to bundle up a toddler in a million layers, and buckle all those layers into a car seat, etc, etc, etc. Bah humbug, right? Plus, towards the end, I really start to get those end-of-winter blues, and it doesn’t help that the winters seem to keep getting longer in this town.
The up-side to this sad problem of mine is that I cook A LOT in the winter. Winter seemed to officially kick-off here last week (60 mile-an-hour winds, temps in the 40s, and rain for 3 days straight), and the serious cooking started: I made beef stroganoff, this amazing turkey stew that I’ve made several times in past winters, brown sugar cookies, Granny’s apple cake (which I promise I will post soon…apples never tasted so good), applesauce, chicken stock (of course!), roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy….and I topped off the week with these chicken pot pies. I think I gained 10 pounds, (and I kind of felt like Paula Deen with all the butter I used) but the cooking and baking frenzy kept my spirits up! Luckily we eat a lot of salads to counter-balance all the fat. Of course, also like typical Chicago, after 4 days of really crappy weather, it was beautiful again for several days…totally teasing me!
These pot pies are nothing like the gross frozen ones of our childhoods (at least my childhood-I had a mother who didn’t like to cook). Last month’s Martha Stewart has the most beautiful pot pie on the cover, and several more inside, and I decided that this will be the winter of pot pies in our house, starting with this classic. My husband is totally on board…while eating these he said he wished I made pot pies more often. Wish granted!
For the chicken, the recipe called for 2 1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes. Instead, I made a pot of chicken stock the day before with a whole chicken, and just used the cooked chicken in the recipe, cut into the cubes. It ends up being about the same amount of chicken (maybe a little less, but it still turned out great). And then you have chicken broth on hand for other recipes!
For the pie crust, I found I needed more than a half-recipe of pie dough, so I used the remainder of the dough to make a couple apple hand-pies for our dessert since I happened to have apples on hand. The unfortunate part about pie dough is that you can’t re-roll out the extra after cutting out the crusts because it will get really tough. So make sure you’re being very conservative when cutting out the pie circles so that you waste very little dough. Also, I didn’t make an all-butter crust for this recipe because I thought it would be too rich (can you believe I just said that??), and instead did one stick of butter and 1/2 cup of Crisco.
Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pie
makes eight 4-inch potpies, serves 8
make ahead: you can refrigerate the filling for up to 3 days in an airtight container
for the filling:
1 1/2 oz. bacon, finely chopped (about 2-3 strips)
1 tbsp EV olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
3 medium carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
2 1/4 lbs. chicken, cubed
3 tbsp heavy cream
for the topping:
1 recipe pie dough (but using 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup Crisco in place of the 1 cup of butter and 1/4 cup Crisco, and omitting sugar)
1 large egg, for egg wash (which I forgot to do, and it turned out just fine)
1. Make the filling: Cook bacon in a large skillet over low heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate using a slotted spoon. Raise heat to medium, and add oil. Add onion, and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms, carrots, and celery, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in flour.
2. Add stock, and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and cream. Simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 5 minutes (if using cooked chicken, there’s no need to cook 5 minutes). Return bacon to saucepan. Let cool.
3. Divide filling among 8 4-inch (12 oz.) ramekins.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make the topping: Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out 8 circles that are 1 inch wider than the ramekins. Top ramekins with dough, and crimp edges with a fork to seal. Brush dough with egg wash.
5. Bake until toppings are golden and fillings are bubbling, about 40 minutes.
I can’t let good pie dough go to waste, so I made a couple apple hand pies with it (luckily I had apples on hand).
Peel, core and slice a good baking apple, like Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Macintosh or Granny Smith. Place apples on one side of the pie dough, leaving about an inch or so on the edge for crimping. Cover apples with about 2 tablespoons of sugar, and about 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Dot with about a tablespoon of butter, cut into small pieces. Fold dough over the apples and crimp the edges (it should be pretty full and packed in there…the apples will shrink when baked). Sprinkle sugar on top, and cut a few small holes in it. Bake for about 30 minutes or so…keep a close eye on it because baking time will vary based on the size of your pies. Take out and cool completely before eating!