Fall is definitely in the air here in the Pacific Northwest, and you know what that means. We are making our way into the long Comfort Food Season.
There’s a lot to be said for this time of year. The weather is crisp, it’s still sunny, I can take out my favorite sweaters. But there’s also a lot going on, from the beginning of school and all of the “back-to-school” nights, clubs and sports activities, lessons and homework. I’m overwhelmed just thinking about all of it, aren’t you?
Makes me realize why we crave the foods from our childhood. For us kids, things really were simpler then. School, homework, a piano lesson, a sports practice. No big deal really. A nice warm dinner. Fabulous! Life was good. And it’s good to be reminded of those times.
This week, it all started with that crispness in the air. It ended with the most glorious Chicken Pot Pie. Chicken Pot Pie is about as good as comfort food gets. Savory, warm, all your food groups in a single dish, what could be better? You can make it as easy or as challenging as you want: a pre-made pie crust and already cooked and diced chicken and veggies, or make your own crust, boil your own chicken, and build it from there. The rest of the process is pretty simple, allows for some improvisation, but always ends up with a warm “chicken in a pie” aroma, and a savory, comforting dinner.
In this recipe, I poach boneless, skinless chicken pieces, but you can cook them any way you want. You could even buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery and then peel, and shred the meat with your hands. A chicken’s worth of meat is enough for a 9″ pie plate. I have a bigger dish so I used a little more meat. And who doesn’t like their pot pie extra meaty?
I also used a single pie crust from a recipe I made, and now have the other half in the freezer, just waiting for me to decide what to do with it. For this particular dish, I really wanted a tender crust, so I used a mixture of butter and shortening to create this tenderness. It is rare that I don’t make an all-butter crust, but this one turned out so well, I might just change my mind, at least for now.?
So, in general, the steps to pot pie are as follows:
- Sauté in butter all of the veggies you want to put in the pie. Salt a bit.
- Add your meat.
- Sprinkle in some flour or cornstarch, stir for a minute.
- Add your stock or broth and any spices you want.
- Let thicken. If desired, add cream or half-and-half.
- Pour in casserole dish or pie plate. Top with crust.
- Bake. Enjoy!
Chicken Pot Pie
2-2 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs and breasts
If poaching, you will need: 4 c unsalted chicken stock or broth, 2 stalks celery, 2 carrots, 1 bay leaf, 1 T peppercorns and salt.
1/4 c butter
1 c chopped celery
1 c chopped carrots
1 c chopped yellow onion
1 c chopped mushrooms
3 c chicken stock
1/3 -1/2 c AP flour
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t dry dill
1/4 t dry mustard
1/3 c cream or half-and-half
Salt and Pepper
1 crust for a single-crust pie
First, cook the chicken (unless it is already cooked, in which case, just shred it). In a wide pot, lay your chicken pieces. Salt generously. Pour the 4 c stock over the chicken. Cut celery and carrots in half lengthwise. Add to pot with bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring to boil. Lower heat to simmer, and simmer until chicken pieces are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Place cooked chicken pieces in a bowl. Cover with some of the poaching liquid and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 375F. Shred chicken. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan, melt butter. Add chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
Add the shredded chicken to the pan with the vegetables. Sprinkle flour over the mixture and stir, cooking for a minute or so. This is to prevent your sauce from tasting like flour.
Next, add 2 1/2 c of the remaining stock, along with the thyme, dill, and dry mustard. When the stock begins to boil, stir until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. If it gets too thick, just add the remaining 1/2 c of stock. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add the half-and-half. Stir.
Pour the filling into a pie plate or casserole dish.
On a floured surface, roll out the pie crust to a size 2 inches larger than your dish. Gently place over the filling, pinch at edges, and cut slits in it to vent.
Bake 25-30 minutes until crust is golden. If you are going for a darker crust, brush on an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 2 T water) prior to placing it in the oven. Mine did not have the egg wash. I like the texture of the dry, flaky crust better than the dark color. Let the pie rest for 10-20 minutes before serving, if you can. ? It is so much easier to remove from the dish to serve. Enjoy!