This is one of my favorite things to make, although it is definitely more suited to San Francisco weather and my previous life. This weekend I decided that L.A. wouldn't get the better of my craving for something delicious bubbling away under a puff pastry crust in a hot oven. I use one recipe only for this -- the one that can be found in my oasis of comfort food recipes: The New Best Recipe.
As you can see from the pics, the "pot" had a Mt. Vesuvius effect under the pie crust. And my serving style is very um, rustic.
Chicken Pot Pie (serves 6-8)
1 recipe Savory Pie Dough Topping (see below for recipe)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium large onion, chopped fine
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
2 small celery ribs, cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
salt and ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons dry sherry
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leave
1. Make the pie dough and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the chicken and broth in a small Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Cover, bring to a simmer and simmer until the chicken is just done, 8-10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl, reserving the broth in a measuring cup.
3. Increase heat to medium-high and heat the oil in the now empty pan. Add the onion, carrots, celery and saute until just tender, about 5 minutes (Don't overcook the veggies, they will be mushy and unappealing after baking in the oven). Season with salt and pepper to taste. While the vegetables are cooking, shred the meat into bite-sized piece. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a bowl with the chicken; set aside.
4. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in the again-empty pan. When the foaming subsides, add the flour; cook about 1 minute. Whisk in the reserved chicken broth, the milk, any accumulated chicken juices, and the thyme. Bring to a simmer, then continue to simmer until the sauce fully thickens, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the sherry.
5. Pour the sauce over the chicken mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the peas and parsley. Adjust the seasonings. Pour the mixture into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan (or shallow baking dish of similar size), or six 12-ounce ovenproof dishes. Top with the pasty. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the filling bubbling, about 30 minutes for the large pie and 20-25 minutes for the smaller pies. Serve hot.
Savory Pie Dough Topping
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3-4 tablespoons ice water
1. Mix the flour and salt in a food processor. Scatter the shortening over the flour mixture, tossing to coat the shortening with a little of the flour. Cut the shortening into the flour with five 1-second pulses. Add the butter and continue pulsing, cutting in the solids until the flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix in the water. Press down on the dough with the broad side of a spatula until the dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if the dough doesn't come together. Shape the dough into a ball, then flatten it into a 4-inch wide disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes of up to 2 days before rolling.
3. When your pie filling is ready, roll the dough on a floured surface to a 15-x11-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. (For individual pies, cut 6 rounds about 1-inch larger than the baking dish circumference.) Place the dough over the pie filling, trimming the dough that overhangs to within 1/2 inch of the pan lip. Tuck overhanging dough back under itself so the folded edge is flush with the the pan lip. Flute the edges all around. Alternatively, don't trim the dough and just tuck the overhanging portion down into the pie. Cut at least four 1-inch vent holes in a large pie, or one 1-inch vent hole in smaller pies.
Confession time. I didn't make this with homemade pie dough. I used a good-quality dough that you can find in the freezer section of Whole Foods (I can't remember the name now). And sinking deeper into confession, I have NEVER made my own pie dough. But I think I might have to try this just one time with my own pastry. And while we're on the subject of pie dough, this can also be made with a Buttermilk Biscuit topping.