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Chicken Pot Pie

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© 2010 Helana Brigman
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Chicken potpie.  A dish that many of us never make ourselves, or have ever had made for us homemade.  But the real tragedy in the world of chicken pot pie is that many of us have been exposed to the dish through the freezer section of our local grocery stores, or the not-so-homemade phenomenon of places like Cracker Barrel (I’m not hating on Cracker Barrel, I’m just saying….).  If we’re lucky, the restaurant and frozen potpies we buy may taste kind of good, but are seldom layered in the kinds of flavors a real homemade recipe pulls together.
This kind of praise aside, I must admit, this is not an easy recipe, a quick recipe, or a recipe for starters.  This chicken potpie recipe is a recipe that, if done in its entirety, takes several hours to make and lots of focus, but has one of the tastiest of outcomes.  It consists of a homemade pie crust, homemade chicken broth and subsequent filling, and lots of fresh ingredients.
When I first got to Asheville for the holidays, I made this recipe for Joe, his family, and his friends.  I spent about three-to-four hours in the kitchen with the help of his younger sister Sarah (holla!) and the result was, as both of Joe’s parents stated, “divine” (very possibly the best compliment my cooking’s ever gotten!).

Chicken Potpie
The below recipe is in its entirety.  However, you can easily cut corners with the chicken broth, the pie crust, and the preparation of the meats.  Oftentimes, I prepare the pie crust a day ahead of time and refrigerate it so that all I have to do is roll it out when it’s time to put the pie together.  Additionally, the chicken can easily be substituted with leftover turkey after Thanksgiving, and the broth can be regular chicken broth from the store.

Ingredients
Chicken and stock ingredients
* 1 (3 ½-4 lb) chicken (i.e., a “frying chicken”)
* 1 carrot
* 1 celery stalk
* 1 small onion, halved and separated
* 2 teaspoons salt

Pie crust ingredients
NOTE: this makes enough pie crust for four discs, or two pies.  It can easily be halved. Also, many pie crusts call for Crisco/lard instead of all butter.  Although the resulting flaky texture may be just that—awesome and flaky—the resulting flavor is way less tasty.  Remember what the wise Julia Childs once said: “You can never have too much butter.”
* 5 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 2 heaping teaspoons of brown sugar
* 4 sticks of butter frozen, or chilled
* 10-15 tablespoons ice water

Filling ingredients
* 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
* 1 large onion, diced (about 1 1/4 cups)
* 3 carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
* 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cups milk (regular, 2 %, or skim all work fine)
* 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (can use dried thyme as well)
* 1/4 cup dry sherry (“cooking sherry”)
* 3/4 cup green peas, frozen or fresh, boiled
* 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
* 2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1/2-1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Egg wash
* 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water

Special equipment needed
* 6-8 10-ounce ramekins
OR: 2 regular pie pans (i.e., 10 inch pie pans)

PIE CRUST


1.) First, prepare the pie crust and refrigerate.  See Post on All Butter Pie Crust for more Information.

CHICKEN STOCK AND FILLING
1.) Cook the chicken and the chicken stock.  Begin by prepping your vegetables–chop onion, celery, and carrots.
2.) Wash and clean the chicken, add to a large pot, and fill with water until it just barely covers the chicken.  Add the carrot, celery, and onion (the onion should be broken into pieces from the half).  Add the salt.  Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, and then turn down to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour (45 minutes for a 3.5 lb chicken, and 45 minutes for a 4 lb. chicken).
3.) Once the chicken is cooked, remove from pot and place in a cooling pan for about 15 minutes.  Allow the broth to continue boiling until it has reduced to about a quart.  Reserve 2 1/2 cups broth for the filling.  You will have plenty to reserve and cook with other dishes!
4.) Once the chicken is cool enough to touch and pick clean, do just that.   Remove all of the chicken, and reserve for the filling.  NOTE: As you’re picking the chicken clean, feel free to put the chicken’s bones back into the broth as the stock continues to boil.  You will definitely get added flavor from this process!

CHICKEN POT PIE FILLING


1.) Preheat oven at 400 degrees F.  In a large skillet, melt the butter, and add celery, carrot, and onions.  Cook the vegetables until they are translucent (about 10 minutes or longer depending on how high you have your heat set).
2.) Add the flour, stir in fully, and cook for one minute.
3.) Whisk/stir in 2 1/2 cups chicken stock.  Whisk in the milk.  Decrease the heat to low, or medium-low and stir occassionally for about ten minutes.
4.) Add the final ingredients: the reserved chicken, thyme, salt and pepper, cooked peas, parsley, and stir well.  NOTE: These will probably not be the final touches you add to this mixture.  Taste the filling and add salt, pepper, and thyme accordingly.  When I last made this recipe, we decided a little extra thyme was what was missing, but it depends from preparation to preparation.


MAKING THE PIE
1.) Roll out two discs of dough (one for each pan) on a floured surface, and pour half of the mixture into each pie pan.  If using ramekins (as shown below), pour filling into individual ramekins and use rolled pie dough for tops.
2.) Roll out the remaining two discs of dough and flop onto the top of the pie.  If using ramekins, use a biscuit cutter (or inverted drinking glass) to cut out circles for the tops of the pot pies.
3.) Curl the crust on top of itself, or fork for a design.  Cut X’s, or lines across the pie crust top for design and to let the pie breathe when cooking.  If using ramekins (as below), layer pie crust cutouts.  Don’t worry if they don’t look “perfect” in the Beta stage; they will cook together and look crispy and fantastic when done.
4.) Prepare the egg wash: mix one tablespoon of milk with one whisked egg, and brush on top of the pie crusts.
5.) Cook for about 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  Full batch makes 8 ramekins, or 2 pies.  Enjoy!

Pot Pie

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  1. By Clearly Delicious » Homemade Chicken Broth on August 7, 2010 at 7:11 am

    [...] this broth with the Clearly Delicious Chicken Pot Pie recipe or a Chicken and Rice [...]

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