What do you think of when you think of when you think of chicken pot pie?
I think of my childhood. Swanson’s Frozen Chicken pot pie was what my mother left for us when she couldn’t be there to make dinner. My older sister would take them out of the freezer, one for each of us, and bake them in the oven. Sometimes, rarely, when they were ready, she let us take them downstairs to the playroom to eat in front of the TV.
The thick white gravy would be bubbling up through the crust as I used my fork to break through to the pieces of chicken, peas and carrots inside. The salty crust melted into the stew. I stirred it all together, reaching down to the bottom of the aluminum pie shell to get the bottom crust too. Chicken Pot Pie is 1960’s comfort food through and through.
I don’t know what made me think of that the other day. But I did and then I had to make a pot pie of my own.
I started with the crust. My usual pie and tart pastry is good but it doesn’t have the flaky, salty flavor I wanted for my pot pie. My mother had a pie crust pastry which used oil and milk instead of butter which was closer to what I was thinking of. And then I thought of the big tub of Crisco Vegetable Shortening which used to sit by the stove top in my childhood home. I went there.
Make the crust in the morning. It needs to rest in the frig for a couple of hours and you want to assemble the pie and bake it right away so the bottom crust doesn’t soggy. I made the filling in the morning too and reheated it when I assembled it before baking.
Start with diced chicken. I used the breast meat from a rotisserie chicken.
Clean and quarter some small mushrooms and cook them in a little butter until they are browning around the edges.
Add a bit more butter to the skillet and cook the onions, carrots, garlic and sage until the onions are translucent and the carrots are starting to soften.
Whisk the flour, salt and thyme into the carrots and onions and add the broth and cream. Stir it all together until the lumps are gone. Then bring it to a simmer and let it cook until it is very thick. So thick that you can see the bottom of the skillet when you run a spatula through it.
If you are doing this in the morning, cover everything and put it in the refrigerator.
About an hour before you are ready to eat, assemble and bake the pot pie.
Roll out one disk of pastry and line a 9” pie pan. Toss together the chicken, peas and mushrooms and spread them over the pastry.
Heat the cream sauce until it is warm and easy to pour then pour it over the chicken and top with the rest of the pastry.
I used a small knife to make some scores in the pastry to make it look pretty. If you do this be careful not to cut all the way through the pastry. Make one or two small slits in the top and brush all over with an egg wash.
Cook it until is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
The pie is wonderful fresh out of the oven…and it’s not half bad as a leftover either!
CHICKEN POT PIE
For the Pie Crust
- 2 ½ c flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 c cold butter
- ¾ c cold Crisco Shortening
- ½ ice water
For the Filling
- 2 c diced chicken
- 8-10 small brown mushrooms cleaned and quartered
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 medium carrots sliced
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1/3 c butter
- ½ small onion chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3-4 fresh sage leaves chopped
- 1/3 c flour
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 ¾ c chicken broth
- 2/3 cream
- 1 egg beaten
Make the pastry.
- Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse it 2-3 times to mix. Dice the butter and add it with the chilled shortening to the flour. Pulse for 7 seconds or until it has the texture of sand. With the motor on slowly drizzle in the water until the pastry starts to stick together. Add up to ¼ c more water if needed but don’t get it too wet. Remove the pastry from the processor and knead lightly. Separate into two equal sized balls, flatten them into ovals and wrap with plastic wrap. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
Make the filling.
- Melt 2 tbs butter in a sauté pan until bubbling up. Add the mushrooms and cook them, stirring occasionally, until they are browning around the edges. Remove and set aside.
- Melt 1/3 cup butter in the same sauté pan. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and sage and cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent and the carrots are starting to soften.
- Whisk in the flour, salt and thyme. Add the cream and broth and continue to whisk until all lumps are gone. Bring it to a simmer and let it simmer until quite thick. You should see the bottom of the pan when you draw a spatula through the sauce.
- If you are doing this in advance, cover and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the pie.
Assembling the pie.
- Bring the gravy to room temperature if you made it in advance.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Roll out one of the pie crusts to a circle about 3” larger than your pie pan. Place the dough in the pan. Toss the chicken together with the peas and mushrooms and spread them on top of the crust in the pan. Pour the gravy over the chicken mixture and spread with a spatula if needed. Roll out the second disk of pastry and place on top of the pie. Seal the edges of the crust and make one or two small cuts through the pastry. If you would like a decorative effect, use a knife to lightly score the pastry as well, being careful not to go through the pastry to the filling below. Brush the top pastry all over with the beaten egg.
- Bake for 35-40 until golden brown and the filling is bubbling up through the holes in the crust. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting into the pie.