Okay onto the classics! I used to beg for chicken pot pie as a kid. It’s decadently hearty and so utterly comforting. When you make it yourself it is even better–oh so much better. Though the recipe may seem complicated it really isn’t. If you don’t have time to do it all at once- just make your crust and velouté in advance then refrigerate until you’re ready to throw it all together. It’ll be worth the wait.
I started by taking a derivative of the Betty Crocker pie crust recipe that is known so well. Betty herself says that pie is the ultimate “man bait”–well, not exactly in those words–but I’m sure we shared the same sentiment. Now for my crust–instead of the shortening or lard that she suggests I just use good ol’ simple butter–much less scary than lard–and really a lot more appealing. Here goes:
Individual Chicken Pot Pies
2 cups all purpose flour
10 2/3 tablespoon butter (its better if you keep the butter in the refrigerator or even freezer)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-5 tablespoons cold water
Bowls: to make individual pot pies instead of one large one, I used 4 large Pyrex custard bowls measuring 4 inches on the diameter at the top to 3 inches at the bottom with a height of 2 inches. But any oven-safe bowls or mini pie tins will work well.
In a large bowl, add flour and slice in cold butter (you are using cold butter so that it won’t start to melt as you work–very important). Add in salt and then mix with your hands until butter and flour form an even grainy mixture– breaking apart large butter clumps as you go. When mixture is even in consistency, start adding in your cold water one tablespoon at a time. When you can pull the dough away from the bowl to form two compact balls you are done.
Lightly flour the surface of a table or large cutting board. I also flour my rolling pin to prevent it sticking as well. Next, take one of your dough balls and begin to roll it out into a thin circle. As I go, I make sure to turn my dough and add extra flour to avoid the dough sticking– this especially important with a butter crust. Here’s a great look at rolling out dough if you need a little more help: http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/11/pie-crust-103-rolling-and-crimping/.
Once you have a thin and evenly rolled dough, start cutting out circles for the top of your crust. I simply inverted my oven-safe bowls and pressed them down like a cookie cutter to mark the dough. Then I took a paring knife and cut out those circular shapes. You should have enough dough left to fill the pie base of one of your custard bowls.
Roll out the remaining dough and then divide it into 1/3’s and cut each section apart– they will not be perfectly circular–just give yourself enough to work with and pinch the dough to make it even. Since it is a butter crust you can work as you go, filling in holes with extra dough scraps.
Take one of the dough 1/3’s and fold it in half–then place it into your custard bowl. Unfold the dough and gently press it around to fill the shape of the bowl. Make sure it reaches up on all sides to the top–add in extra dough in places or pinch out as needed. Then trim the extra with a paring knife. Repeat procedure until all bowls are filled with crust.
If you want to save the dough for later and will not finish the recipe tonight: spread parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and place your pie crusts and pie bowls onto the cookie sheet. Cover tightly with saran wrap and place in refrigerator so that pie crust will maintain its integrity until you are ready finish the recipe.
This is a creamy, chicken flavored sauce that you can use as is or that can serve as the base for many other wonderful sauces. You start by using a roux (a mixture of butter and flour) which is used in quite a few recipes, many of them Cajun based such as gumbo. And then by adding that roux to your chicken stock and allowing to simmer you create a rich and thick base for your chicken pot pie.
4 cups of homemade chicken stock (you can substitute store bought if needed)
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
Salt and white pepper to taste
(okay I love herbs and other aromatics so I also included a dash of: poultry seasoning, a dash more ground thyme, and a dash of garlic powder. My dashes are less than 1/4 teaspoon-more a quick shake of the wrist)
Start by bringing your chicken stock to a simmer in a medium sauce pan. In a separate small pan, mix your butter with flour over medium heat, stirring frequently. You don’t want to brown either ingredient- you just want to cook long enough to incorporate the two and remove the taste of the flour– about 2-3 minutes should do it. Next whisk your roux into your chicken stock and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. Season with salt and white pepper to taste and finish with a dash of poultry seasoning, thyme, and garlic powder. Allow to cool and set aside.
Individual Chicken Pot Pies:
1 cup small diced, peeled white potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1 cup (1/2 pound) diced chicken breast
1 cup frozen peas and carrots mix
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 425F. In a small stock pot, add diced potatoes and cover with water by 1/2 inch, salt heavily. Bring to a boil and then immediately strain.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan add olive oil and onion and cook on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add in steamed potatoes, rosemary, and sage and cook for 5 minutes. Then add in diced chicken and saute another 5 minutes until chicken is just fully cooked. Add in frozen peas and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes till vegetables have defrosted, stirring often and then remove from heat.
To assemble and complete those gorgeous meat pies: take each bowl of the pie crust and fill with 1 cup of chicken and vegetable mix. Then top with 1/2 cup of prepared veloute. Finish with a circular pie top then with a fork press down on all sides to create a finish along the outside of your crust. Using a pairing knife slice a small X in the center of the pie to allow steam to release. Repeat on the 3 remaining pies. Then pop the pot pies on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet in the oven and cook till golden brown (40-50 min).
Serve warm-but remember this is bubbly, delicious chicken pie goodness so don’t just dig right in and pop it in your mouth-HOT. Let it cool a bit then enjoy.