Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

It's a definition for comfort food; that's what this is.

When I was living in Midland, Texas during the early 1980's, a co-worker passed her CPP recipe on to me.  The original recipe had more vegetables, like mushrooms and corn kernels, but this was tailor-made to Lovey's liking; and it hasn't changed since.  Oh, I've tried to slip things in there that I thought would make it even more superb, but Lovey always called me out on it.  So, this is our chicken pot pie.  You can, as with most any recipe, tweak it to make it your own.

Begin by cooking your chicken.  This will also be the beginning of your broth that will become the base for your sauce.

I use 3 or 4 large chicken breast halves.  You can use whatever pieces you prefer.  Thighs will actually produce a broth that is a little more flavorful but, as I've said, this is Lovey's pot pie and white meat he'll get.

Make your broth with carrots, celery with leaves, an onion, bay leaf, garlic cloves, thyme  and whatever else you might have in your vegetable bin that would add a depth of flavor to your broth.

Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Skim off the foam then sprinkle some poultry seasoning over the top.  Add a Tablespoon of salt, cover, reduce the heat and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking chop the onion, carrots, and potatoes

When the chicken is done remove from broth and allow to cool.  Strain the broth and discard the solids.  Pour the stock back into the pan and bring to a boil.  Add the chopped onion, carrots and potatoes and boil for about 3 to 4 minutes.  You don't want them (especially the potatoes) to cook through and be mushy; they'll finish cooking in the oven.

With a large slotted spoon remove the vegetables from the broth and set aside in a large mixing bowl.  Return the broth to the stove top and bring to a boil.  Reduce broth to 1 cup and reserve in a measuring cup.  It will be so nice and rich.

Bone the chicken and cut into bite-size pieces.  Add the chicken to the large mixing bowl with the vegetables.

Rinse the frozen peas and add them to the mixture in the large mixing bowl.

In the pot you reduced the broth in, melt butter and add flour to make a roux.  Cook for one minute.

Add the reduced broth and whisk.  Slowly add the half & half and stir until it begins to thicken.  Toss in some chopped fresh parsley.  Now taste your sauce to see if you want to add salt and pepper.

Gently fold the sauce in with the vegetable / chicken mixture.

Roll out bottom pastry and place in the pie plate.

Pour the filling into the pie plate and mound up towards the center.

Roll out top crust and place over filling and crimp the edges.  Cut an air vent in the middle of the crust.  I make a 'K' for our last name.  How cute. 

Bake for 30 - 45 minutes until the filling is hot and bubbly (you'll see it bubbling through the vent hole) and the crust is nice and brown.

After removing from oven allow the pie to rest for 10 - 15 minutes.

Serve a crisp green salad.

Chicken Pot Pie
Serves 6

for crust:
Use your preferred recipe for a 2 crust pie crust.  when I am short on time, I use the refrigerated Pillsbury crust that you simply unroll.  It's easy and makes for a very nice crust when you do not have time to make a dough from scratch.

for chicken & broth:
3 - 4 large bone-in chicken breast halves
1 carrot, scrubbed and halved
1 yellow onion, washed & halved (skin left on)
1 celery stalk halved, preferably with the leaves
5 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
1 large bay leaf
1 small bundle fresh thyme sprigs (tied in a bundle)
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 Tbsp. salt

for the filling & sauce: 
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4" slices
1 large onion, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 - 10 ounce package/box of frozen peas
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup half and half
hand full of chopped fresh parsley
salt & pepper to taste 
1 tsp milk 

Roll out 1 pie crust and place in a 9" deep dish pie plate.  Put in refrigerator to chill.

Place chicken, carrot, onion, celery and garlic cloves in a 5-1/2 quart Dutch Oven.  NOTE:  you can add any other vegetables you want that will contribute to your broth.  \Cover with water.  Bring to boil.  Skim off the nasty-looking white foam.  Turn heat down to a simmer and season with the poultry seasoning.  Allow chicken to simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is done (about 20 minutes).

While chicken is cooking prepare  the potato, carrot and onion and set aside  in a mixing bowl.

When chicken is done, remove the breasts and vegetables from broth with a large slotted spoon, leaving the broth in the pot.  Throw vegetable solids away (unless you want to munch on them; especially the garlic, yum!) and set the breasts off to the side to cool.  Strain the broth and return to the pot.  Bring to a boil and add the bowl of cut up vegetables you had set aside.  Bring to a simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes. With a large slotted spoon remove the vegetables from the broth and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Return pot with the broth to the burner and turn to high.  Boil until the broth is reduced to 1 cup.  Strain into a measuring cup and set aside

While broth is reducing & chicken has cooled de-bone and cut into bite-size pieces.  Add the chicken to the bowl with the vegetables.

In a colander, rinse the frozen peas and add to the vegetable/chicken mixture.  NOTE:  At this time you can add other things that you might like such as fresh mushrooms, frozen corn, etc.).  Gently fold all of your vegetables and meat together.

In the same pot you have been using, melt the butter or medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk together to make a roux.  Whisking, allow to cook for a minute to remove the flour-y taste.  slowly add the broth and whisk until smooth.  Add the half and half and stir until slightly thickened. Add the parsley and taste.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside to slightly cool off.

Pour the sauce over the vegetables & chicken.  Gently fold until everything is thoroughly coated.

Remove pie plate from refrigerator and pour the filling into the bottom crust and mound in the center (if you do have filling that won't fit, just put it in small single-serving ramekins to eat in the future.

Roll out the top crust and drape over the filling.  Fold edges under the edges of the bottom crust and crimp all around.  Cut slits in the center of the pie crust for venting.  With a pastry brush, brush the top crust with a light coat of milk.  Place in refrigerator for about 10 minutes for the top crust to firm up a bit.

Preheat oven to 425°.  Place pie plate on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  After the 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 350° and bake until the crust is a nice golden brown (anywhere from 30 - 45 minutes).

Allow pie to cool on a cooling rack for 10 - 15 minutes before cutting.

Serve with the tossed green salad for a nice complete dinner.

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