I don’t eat raw vegetables. It sounds weird, but I’m allergic and I get itchy and blotchy all over. It happens with red wine sometimes too. It’s more annoying than dangerous, but I stay away from them whenever I can. One of the problems with cooking a lot is that it’s only economical to buy raw vegetables in bulk. I’ve recently made gumbo and meatloaf for Sunday meals. Each time, I had half a bag of carrots and celery left over. Since crudités is off the table, so to speak, I usually just make a chicken pot pie to get rid of the leftovers.
Chicken pot pie sounds intimidating, but it’s really not. It’s especially easy if you have a food processor or a stand mixer. Think of it as a super-thick version of chicken soup. Who’s afraid of making chicken soup? This is another Sunday recipe of mine, meaning it’s good to throw on the stove before church and then plan on finishing it a few hours later for lunch.
Chad Chandler’s Chicken Pot Pie
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening (or lard)
- 2 eggs, beaten, divided
- 3 chicken breasts, poached and shredded
- 3½ cups low sodium chicken stock, divided
- 3/4 cup flour
- 3/4 cup (1½sticks) butter
- 1 cup diced carrots (about 1 lb)
- 1 cup diced celery (about 1 lb)
- 1 cup diced russet potato (about 1 lb)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 leeks, cleaned and diced (light green parts only)
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 1 teaspoon fresh (or ½ teaspoon dried) sage
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon pepper
- additional salt and pepper to taste
I think I learned how to make the crust from this recipe at Epicurious. Ideally, the crust should be made at least a few hours before baking the pie. If you can do it the night before, then that’s even better. I’ve made it two hours before baking (without refrigerating it at all) and no one was the wiser, so don’t stress too much over it.
If you have a stand mixer, pour the dry ingredients into the bowl and stir everything slowly (on 2) with the paddle attachment. Next, add the butter (a little at a time), the egg, and the shortening. Mix (on 4) until the dough comes together. Then use your hands to form it into a tight ball and smash it into a one-inch-thick disc. Wrap the disc tightly in plastic wrap and toss it into the fridge. If the dough looks mealy and doesn’t really come together, add cold water a tablespoon at a time until it does. Leave the mixer out on the counter.
If you don’t have a stand mixer, just pulse the dough with a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, then buy some pre-made dough from the freezer section of your grocery store. I’ve kneaded the dough by hand before, but it’s pretty labor-intensive and I don’t recommend it.
Put the chicken breasts in a casserole dish, pour in 1½ cups of chicken stock into the pan, and slide it uncovered into a 375° oven. It’s the same thing we do when we make creamy chicken salad. Flip them after about 20 minutes and take them out after around 40 minutes when cooked through. I used to shred boneless meat with two forks, but it’s painful and takes forever. Now I just toss all of the chicken into the stand mixer and let the paddle (on 2 at first and then I turn up to 4) shred it for me.
Peel and chop all of the vegetables into 1/4 inch cubes (ignore the peas until later). You want the pieces to be about the same size. Leeks are notoriously dirty, so you need to follow the directions here to clean them.
To make the roux, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it’s foaming, slowly add the flour and whisk constantly. You’ll need to cook the roux until it’s the color of light peanut butter. It’ll only take 5-10 minutes and then you add the remaining two cups of chicken stock as you continue to whisk. This is the base for the chicken pot pie. When the mixture comes to a boil, it’ll thicken up nicely.
Once it’s bubbling, add the chicken (and the leftover poaching stock), vegetables, peas, sage, salt, pepper, and stir. Turn the heat down to very low and cover. Simmer for at least one hour and up to four, stirring occasionally. I like to cook the pie filling until the potato is starting to fall apart, about three hours.
Let the dough come to room temperature before rolling (at least 30 minutes). Preheat the oven to 400°. Season the filling to taste with salt and pepper before pouring as much as you can into a 9 x 13 (4 quart) baking dish. Lightly flour a work surface and take the dough out of the plastic wrap. Roll the dough as uniformly as you can until it’s the size of the dish. Roll the dough over the roller and unroll it onto the casserole dish.
If you’re like me, you’ll tear it in a dozen places and it’ll be shaped like a salamander. Just pick up the flattened, deformed dough and lay it over the top of the casserole dish as best you can. Use scraps to fill any holes. It doesn’t matter how patchwork it looks. The dough pieces will meld together as they cook. Cut off the excess dough and brush the top of the dough with the other beaten egg.
Poke a few slits around the top of the crust to allow the steam to vent. There’s a good chance the pie will rise and boil over, so place the casserole dish onto a rimmed baking sheet. Gently slide it into the oven and bake uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour. Take it out when it looks like the crust is about to burn, if that makes sense. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
I should note that this recipe makes more crust than you need, but you need a lot of crust to be able to roll it big enough to cover a rectangular dish. So be aware that you’ll waste a good 25¢ of all-purpose flour. Tragic, I know.
Some people find it annoying that I’m not specific about the amount of vegetables, but it doesn’t really matter. You can load it up or skimp and the dish will come out the same as long as you make the roux correctly. So if you don’t want to add leeks, then leave them out. If you like mushrooms, add them in. I usually throw whatever I have in the “crisper” drawer into the pot.
On a side note, why do they call it a “crisper?” Have you ever put anything in there that didn’t come out more limp than it was going in?