How to make chicken pot pie in just nine hours!


Who doesn’t love chicken pot pie? Donnie sure does!

When I was an undergrad at UT-Austin way back in the flannel-clad ’90s, among my pauper’s menu (alongside the requisite ramen and 39-cent bean burritos from Taco Bell) were the 2/$1 store-brand pot pies from the local grocery chain. These were not good pot pies, but they got the job done. Because I’ve been watching my weight since I knew what it meant to watch my weight, I didn’t eat them that often. Over time I’ve developed a taste for homemade chicken pot pie (and turkey pot pie isn’t too shabby either); my friend Sally makes a killer one. Sure, there are some ready-made ones that fit the bill (the positively Flintstonian one at Costco comes to mind), but I’ve really come to the point where a scratch pot pie is the only choice when it comes to pot pie, not only because it tastes better and fresher, but also because you have control over the ingredients.

Now then, it’s hard to make anything from scratch when you’ve got small ones underfoot. My 15-month-old daughter is fond of hanging onto my legs while I’m cooking/washing dishes, so I spent some time in the morning while the kids were out of the house (and I should have been working on my dissertation) doing a lot of the prep work. That way, once everyone was home, all I had to do was cook up the filling, roll out the biscuit dough, and then toss it all in the oven.

The recipe for the filling is adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, and the biscuit topping is adapted from Sally’s recipe, which I think she got from The Joy of Cooking, but I’m not sure.

Filling:
3 medium celery stalks
3 carrots
1 medium onion (I used a white onion)
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup edamame (the original calls for 1/2 cup frozen peas, but my husband hates peas, so this is the compromise)
2 cups cooked chicken breast (I drizzled two breasts with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried thyme leaves, then baked in a 350 oven for 30 minutes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups chicken broth (the original calls for a chicken boullion cube and a 1/2 cup white wine)
1 cup 2% milk (original calls for heavy cream here, but we are not Henry VIII, nor do we aspire to his physique)
1 tsp ground thyme (thank goodness I cooked the chicken with thyme, because I totally forgot this step!)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper, black

First, prepare your mirepoix:

Then cover it and put it in the fridge … somewhere:

Then prepare your chicken:

and pop it in the fridge:

Then make your dough.
Sift together
1 3/4 c flour (I used 1 1/4 c. all-purpose, and 1/2 c. whole-wheat)
1/2 t salt (here I was thinking about something else and accidentally put in 1 1/2 t salt; I scooped out what I could and then threw in a pinch of sugar)
3 t baking powder
Add:
4-6 T chilled butter (I used 5!)
Cut the butter (one T at a time, unlike me, who threw the whole chunk in at once) into the flour mixture until it’s in pea-sized chunks.
Add, all at once:
3/4 c 2% milk
Stir until the dough is coming off the sides of the bowl, then get your hands involved and get the rest of the flour mixture incorporated.

Put it in a bowl, cover it, put it in the fridge. Ignore the dishes:

Leave the house for several hours in order to get some reading and writing done, go pick up the toddler from daycare, and play/snuggle/nurse until Dad and Big Brother get home and take her off your hands.

Then!

Preheat oven to 450.
Melt butter in a skillet or dutch oven. Add your mirepoix and cook until translucent. Throw in the chicken and edamame and mix it all up.
Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
Pour in chicken broth, stirring constantly. Pour in milk.
Bring to a slow boil and allow mixture to cook and thicken for a few minutes. Add salt, pepper, and thyme to taste.
Pour mixture into a casserole dish or deep pie pan and let it sit a minute.
Get your biscuit dough from the fridge. Dust a flat surface with some flour and knead the dough a bit. (By this point, the menfolk were absorbed in the Wii and the toddler was … you guessed it, clinging to my legs and crying). Roll to your desired thickness. I think I rolled mine to about half an inch.

Take your dough and lay it over the top of the casserole dish. I had some excess dough, so I got fancy with some tiny cookie cutters:

Bake for about 15 minutes. And … behold! Dinner is served, piping hot!

The verdict? I’ll be honest with you: chicken pot pie that doesn’t have potatoes is an abomination. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t think to put in potatoes. Next time I will. Otherwise, this dish was delish. I wish the carrots hadn’t been as al dente as they were. Next time I’ll cut them smaller or blanch them or cook the filling longer or something. On the whole, though, it was a hit.

Oh, but you know who doesn’t like pot pie? This cat:

Here was his dish *after* we cleared the table:

I bet Donnie would have eaten it.

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1 Comment

  1. Montana Mike

     /  February 6, 2010

    How many times would you severely scald your tongue on the chicken-lava erupting from the one of those fifty-cent c-p-pies? Me, every time.

    I don’t think I ever actually tasted one of those pies, what with my now-fried-out, desensitized taste buds.

    Then, ironically, by the last few bites, the thing would congeal into a cold blob of disgustedness.

    I also remember there were always exactly three tiny cubes of what appeared to be chicken therein. I imagined there was a person on the chicken pot pie assembly line whose job it was to count out three cubes, not two, nor four, cubes of chicken for each pie. This person was known as the “CCC” (Chicken Cube Counter).

    I’m stopping now.

    –mm

    Reply

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