There was a recipe in this months Bon Appetit for chicken pot pie and it got me thinking mostly, about the fact that I haven’t had a pot pie in years. I couldn’t figure out why that was the case, I remembered eating them growing up, both a homemade version and a frozen version that was whipped out as dinner on evenings that my parents went out on the town and a babysitter (or us kids) were in charge. I feel like I stopped eating pot pie because they went out of favor – they are too simple for the current influx of recipes that seem to prefer a laundry list of ingredients and an overwhelming amount of different flavors. Don’t get me wrong, I will always be the first to try a recipe with an exhaustive list of ingredients and flavors but I realized that it’s sometimes nice to return to simpler, familiar and more All-American flavors. This chicken pot pie recipe is about as simple as its gets. It’s hearty – the pie is packed with potatoes, carrots, peas and chicken, the crust is tender and flaky, and it's really the kind of food that's perfect for cold winter evenings.
Chicken Pot Pie
Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything
This is the perfect dish to make ahead. I prepared the crust and filling (placing the filling in the baking dish I used) the night before we ate them. When I came home from work the next night I simply rolled out the crust, topped the pie, and baked! You can also cook this in a large 2-quart baking dish or do as I did and cook it in 4 ramekins. The recipe for the crust is below, if you are feeling lazy and don't want to make a crust you can use puff pastry (the Dufour puff pastry is the best of the best.)
For the Filling
About 1 pound bone in skin on chicken breast
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons butter or oil
1 cup cubed potatoes
2 large or 4 small carrots, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cream
1 cup peas
For the crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons frozen or cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons ice water
To make the crust: Combine the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter all at once, process until the mixture is uniform, about 10 seconds. Add the egg yolk and process for another few seconds. Add the ice water to the food processor and process for a few more seconds (until the dough just comes together). Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Freeze for at least 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
To make the filling: In a large pot heat up enough water to cover the chicken breast (about 4 - 6 cups). Bring the pot to boil and add the chicken breast, the bay leaves, and the peppercorns. Bring the water back up to a boil and then place the cover on the pot, cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn the heat off and let the chicken sit in the pot (covered) for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the chicken for the pot and set it aside to cool. Bring the water back to a boil and continue cooking until it reduces to half, about 20 minutes. When the chicken is cool, shred it and set it aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put 2 tablespoons of butter or oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the potatoes and carrots and cook, stirring frequently until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the flour; continue cooking and stirring until it just turns tan. Add 1 1/2 cups of the chicken cooking liquid and the cream to the vegetable flour mixture. Cook, stirring constanly, until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, but don't let it come to a rolling boil. Taste, and add salt and pepper as necessary. Turn off the heat and add the chicken pieces and the peas. Put the mixture into the baking dish. (This is where you could refrigerate it).
Roll out the tart crust large enough to cover the baking dish. Lay the crust over the dish. Using a sharp knife, cut 3 or 4 little vents into the top of the pie. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes until the crust is deeply golden and the filling is bubbling.