So I have mentioned that my family loves grilled or roasted chicken. I often make a bunch at a time, way more than we need, because it is just as easy to roast or grill 12 pieces as it is 6, and there are so many possibilities for the leftovers. I sometimes cut them up to make a yummy chicken salad or add them to a rice or lettuce or pasta salad to give it some heft. But this time I decided to use the leftovers for chicken pot pie. I made one big one and multiple smaller ones in ramekins so that they can be frozen and reheated in single servings when someone wants one for lunch or if she (let’s face it… it won’t be David) doesn’t like what I am making for dinner.
I think it is definitely worth the effort (which is minimal if you have a Cuisinart or Kitchen Aid) to make the pastry yourself rather than using a purchased one. It really makes a difference in how the pie overall tastes. I used a recipe that calls for both butter and shortening and that too made a discernible difference in the flakiness and taste of the crust. One suggestion I have that falls in the do as I say and not as I do category is to take the time to slightly blanch the carrots before you assemble the pie. I chose not to do so and the texture was offputting because they were crunchy while everything else was soft.
Chicken Pot Pie
Cut up cooked chicken into bite-sized chunks or cubes. Set aside.
Roughly dice two yellow or sweet onions. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat and cook the onions until soft, 6-8 minutes. And ½ cup flour to make a roux, then add 5 cups chicken broth. (A lot of recipes call for the broth to be hot but I have not found this to be necessary. Don’t add it all at once, though. Keep whisking it as you add it to the onions and flour so that you don’t get any clumps. Add 1 cup heavy cream (whole milk or half and half works as well). Add 1-2 cups each (to taste) of diced celery (Eliza would like it noted that she would prefer if this vile vegetable is omitted), frozen peas, blanched diced carrots, ½ cup chopped parsley, the diced chicken (about 5 cups) and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low heat to combine and then take off heat.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
For the pastry, I use Ina Garten’s recipe.
Ina Garten’s Chicken Pot Pie Crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper.
Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof ramekins or you can make one big pie (or a combination, as I do). Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each ramekin with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.
I have experimented with different fillings, using only vegetables (adding a variety of mushrooms instead of the chicken) or seafood. The point is that a flaky, buttery crust and a creamy, vegetable-heavy interior is a great vehicle for dinner and has endless possibilities for customizing it to your family’s preferences or whatever the cook feels like eating that night!