So this is the third in my series of favorite winter stews or one pot dishes and certainly one of America’s all-time favorites… Chicken pot pie. Like many American comfort food classics, the pot pie’s origins go way back, in this case all the way to the ancient Egyptians where images of them can be found etched on tomb walls. Historians believe that the Greeks actually originated pie pastry which were a primitive flour & water paste wrapped around meat which served to cook it and seal in the juices.
When the Romans sampled these delicacies, they carried home recipes as part of their victory spoils when they conquered Greece.
The bakers to the pharaohs and other wealthy and educated Romans used various types of meat in every course of the meal. The delights of the pie spread throughout Europe, via the Roman roads, where every country adapted the recipes to their customs and foods and eventually arrived in America brought by the European settlers.
Unlike many rustic one-pot dishes, the sauce and other ingredients are pre-cooked separately, assembled, covered with pastry and then popped in the oven to finish. This ensures that none of the ingredients will be under or over cooked and that the flavor and thickness of the sauce can be pre-determined.
Speaking of sauce, this is the most critical ingredient in making this dish flavorful. The second element is the pastry crust. I think the best versions are those where the pastry topping is homemade in the style of a pie crust but this version uses a good quality, butter enriched, store bought puff pastry.
Finally, the nice thing about this dish is that it can be prepped several hours ahead and then popped into a hot oven for 30 minutes and you’re good to go.
Served with a simple little green salad on the side and you’ve got yourself a tasty little cool weather lunch or dinner… Enjoy!
Recipe – Chicken Pot Pie
Note: Serves 4
» 1 Tbs Butter or olive oil
» ½ cup Onions, diced finely
» 1 each Large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
» 1 Tbs. Fresh thyme leaves
» ½ tsp. White pepper
» 1 tsp Onion powder
» 2 tsp. Kosher salt
» ½ cup Cream sherry
» 4 cups Chicken stock
» 1 cup Heavy cream
» 2 each Large carrots – diced into roughly ¼” pieces
» 2 cups Cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters
» 2 cups Frozen peas with pearl onions, defrosted
» 1 Tbs Melted butter or olive oil
» 1-1/2 pounds Cooked chicken, cooled, diced ½” pieces
» 1 box Frozen puff pastry, defrosted
» 2 each Eggs, lightly beaten with 1 Tbs water
First thing you want to do is make the sauce. Place butter or oil, onions and shallots in medium sauce pan and sweat, stirring occasionally over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes until translucent. Add thyme, white pepper, onion powder, salt and sherry and cook until sherry is reduced by approximately half. I suggest you use a cream good sherry, not cooking sherry, as this will ensure to impart a smooth and mellow flavor to the sauce (I use Harvey’s Bristol Cream). Next add the chicken stock and cream, bring to boil and then, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The sauce will need to be thickened with a cornstarch slurry. Stir equal amounts of water and cornstarch together in a small bowl and slowly add to sauce while whisking. The thickness is a matter of personal preference but for this dish I would recommend making the sauce thicker than normal (think clam chowder consistency) as the vegetables and chicken will release juices as it bakes thinning the sauce somewhat. Adjust salt content to taste and set sauce aside to too.
Bring a small sauce pan of lightly salted water to boil and add carrots, cooking for 2-3 minutes until barely tender. Drain and reserve. Next you want to cook the mushrooms. I like tossing them in the melted butter, sprinkling with salt and pepper then roasting on a sheet pan in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned and soft. This roasting process intensifies the flavor of the mushrooms but if you’re in a rush you can simply cook them in a large saute pan tossing and stirring until browned.
Next place 4 soufflé or straight sided bowls with lips on counter top (They should have a capacity of about 16 ounces). In a separate bowl, mix the chicken and vegetables together. Pour about 1” of the sauce into the bottom of each bowl, then add the chicken & vegetable mixture evenly among all bowls and top with remaining sauce. Sauce and ingredients should come near the top of the bowl. Place puff pastry sheets on wood cutting board or lightly floured counter top and cut into 4 circles approximately 1” larger in diameter than the top of the bowls. Using a small pastry brush lightly brush the outer ½” of each pastry circle with the beaten egg. Flip the pastry circles over and place atop the dishes so the egg side is down.
Using your fingers press the outer edges of the pastry onto the side of the bowl below the lip to adhere firmly. It’s OK to press the pastry down the sides of the bowls to adhere well. Place the bowls in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or up to 4 hours before baking.
When ready to bake, brush the entire surface of the pastry with the beaten egg, place them on a perforated pizza pan, and place in 375 degree oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the pastry is well browned. Remove from oven and place on plate and enjoy. Be careful when first puncturing the pastry as the escaping steam will be hot!