Or month, year, whatever. I have no illusions that this will become a regular feature here at Chez Knitting Doctor. It’s just that we have made chicken pot pie a couple of times in the last few weeks, and the last time we made it, I uploaded a photo to Facebook, and got a couple of “I want that recipe” comments. Recipe? We don’t use no stinking recipes around here, it’s mostly made up on the spot. I sat down this morning and tried to reconstruct how we made this, and here it is. Read it all the way to the end before you start cooking, since it’s a bit of a stream-of-consciousness kind of recipe.
Lorette’s Chicken Pot Pie
This is done in a deep casserole dish, with a pastry crust on top, so amounts can be approximate. I start with however much leftover chicken I have, and adjust the other ingredient amounts to match. We typically get a roast chicken from Costco, heat it and have it as is for one dinner, then use the leftovers in a pie. This recipe sounds like it has a lot of fidgety parts, but it you have two people in the kitchen working, it doesn’t take that much time to get this ready and in the oven. This will feed at least four hungry people. We had it with a salad and a nice rhonish red wine. Crusty french bread would be terrific with this. You don’t really need another vegetable with this since it’s chock full of veggies by itself.
Cooked chicken, cut up in biggish bite size pieces, about 2-3 cups.
Some kind of onions. I like the frozen pearl onions, but you can use chopped yellow or red onions, or leeks. About a heaping cup of pearl onions is good.
Potatoes, 2-3 medium ones, peeled and cut up into big chunks
Carrots, 2-3 large ones, peeled and cut into chunks
Green peas, about a cup. I use frozen peas and just run them under hot water in a strainer for a minute to thaw them out.
Any other veggies you have around. Leftover cooked green beans, broccoli, etc. This is a good way to use up those slightly marginal veggies you have that aren’t bad enough to toss yet.
Mushrooms are good, sliced or broken up roughly, you can add sliced celery if you wish.
Garlic if you wish, or green garlic in the spring.
I use a large pottery casserole dish for this, and adjust the amounts of the ingredients so it doesn’t quite fill the dish once the sauce is added, you want a little space so it doesn’t bubble over in the oven. If you have less stuff, just make a smaller casserole.
3 tablespoons butter
3 heaping tablespoons flour (I measure all this pretty much by eye, it doesn’t have to be exact)
3-4 cups liquid, depending on how thick you want it. I usually use about half milk, half chicken stock (canned is fine), and a little white wine.
Herbs: I use herbs de Provence, or mixed thyme, marjoram, whatever I have handy. You can use fresh herbs as well, just chop them up first. About two teaspoons of dried is fine, more if you use fresh.
Parsley, the italian kind, chopped
Store bought pie crust, or you can make your own if you are really ambitious. I just use a top crust, since a bottom crust gets REALLY soggy in this and is way too much trouble.
Start by cutting up your chicken, and prepping the veggies, clean and cut them into the right size pieces. The veggies won’t cook much in the pie, so you need to pre-cook most of them. I do them separately so I don’t end up with a bunch of mush, but I do them sequentially in one pot so I don’t have to wash a bunch of kettles at the end. Put the taters in water with a little salt, simmer till they are just done. Drain, set aside, do the same with the carrots. I don’t pre-cook the peas. If you are using other fresh veggies, use your judgement, I’d probably at least lightly steam or simmer most of them.
Cook your onions, put some olive oil in a pan, then the pearl onions, cook until they are nice and golden, shake them around while they are cooking. If you are using regular onions or leeks, just saute them until golden. If you want to add sliced mushrooms or celery, I’d cook them with the onions, or at least in the same saute pan. If you are using garlic, now would be the time to add it to the saute pan.
Toss all of this in the casserole, the chicken, pre-cooked veggies, and the onion mixture. Toss it around gently and set aside.
Make your sauce:
This is basically a white sauce. Put your butter in a saucepan, melt, add the flour and stir with a whisk or wooden spatula. Cook this on medium heat while stirring constantly. It will start really clumpy and gradually smooth out a bit, you want to cook it for just a few minutes and don’t let it get brown. You just want to cook it long enough to get the raw flour taste out of it.
At this point I take it off the heat to add the liquid. Add a little bit of the liquid at a time, whisking briskly to get it mixed in before it makes big lumps. Keep doing this until you’ve got all the liquid mixed in. I usually add most of the liquid, maybe saving some back to adjust the thickness of the sauce as it cooks. Put it back on the heat, turn the heat down to simmer. Add the bay leaf and your herbs, along with a little salt and pepper. Stir mostly constantly while it is thickening up, this will take a few minutes after it comes to a simmer. If it’s too thick, add a little more liquid. If it’s too thin, cook it a little more. If you’ve really screwed up and it’s way too thin, you can add a little cornstarch mixed in water to thicken, but remember that the starch in the potatoes will help thicken things at least a little in the finished pie. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning. You could add a dash of Worcestershire sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper to kick it up a bit if desired.
Now dump your sauce over the chicken and veggies, you may not need all of it, use your judgement. If you don’t have enough sauce, you can add a little chicken stock right to the casserole and stir. Don’t stir too much or your potatoes will all fall apart.
Take your pie crust out of the package and put on top of the chicken mixture, crimp up the edges so it looks fancy and pie-like. Cut a couple of slits here and there so the steam can escape.
Break the egg in a little dish, whisk it around with a fork a bit, then brush the top of the pie crust with it.
Stick this in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 25-35 minutes. I start checking it at about 25, you want it nice and golden brown on top. This doesn’t cut up into wedges like pie, we just serve it using a big spoon, trying to get a nice mix of crust and chicken stuff on each plate. Try not to eat the whole thing at one sitting.
You could make this all ahead and get it in the casserole ready to go. I’d just add the crust at the last minute if I did that so it doesn’t get soggy while it’s waiting.
If you are really lazy, you could use prepackaged mixed frozen veggies, but I generally think they are marginal at best. You should try this at least once with fresh veggies that you’ve prepared yourself, you’ll see that it’s much better. If you don’t want to make a sauce, I suppose you could use some kind of cream of whatever soup, but that stuff is dangerous, lots of salt and fat. This recipe would be easily adaptable to other kinds of leftover meat, if I used beef I’d probably have to experiment a little to get a brown sauce instead of a white sauce. I might work on that one. Hmmm, brown sauce, red wine, basically a beef stew with a pastry lid on it. Now I’m hungry again.
And here’s a photo of the finished pie.
Now, go make your own!