So many things are going on in my life right now.
My garden is starting to produce vegetables and fruits and the herbs are green and lush.
I have been working with pastry almost on a weekly basis.
And I have been meeting potters all over Asheville, talking about their products and how they can be used in baking.
It all comes together in a dish that is not something I usually go for, but it just spoke to me: Chicken Potpie with Fresh Peas and Tarragon.
Let’s start with the peas and tarragon. My mother used to put fresh mint in with the peas when she made them which is nice; but over the past few years I have developed a love for fresh tarragon and I thought it would work well with peas and chicken. When you buy fresh tarragon at the store you will most likely be purchasing French tarragon. But this variety doesn’t grow well in hot climates, so my tarragon is Mexican Tarragon (aka Texas Tarragon). The flavor is somewhat stronger than the French variety but I find it works well as a substitute.
The peas in my garden are growing like crazy and it would be a crime to do anything other than eat them quickly cooked with a little butter and salt, if it weren’t for the fact that I have so many of them. For the purposes of this recipe it is completely fine to use store-bought fresh peas or even frozen peas.
I am a little obsessed by my rough puff pastry and I envisioned a beautiful lid of puff pastry over my chicken and gravy. I also tried the dish with store-bought puff pastry. It’s easy and it makes a light, flakey, crisp topping to the dish.
And lastly the pottery. Baking in ceramic pottery is a little different from using Pyrex glass or metal pie tins. It requires starting the dish in a cold oven so that the dish doesn’t crack. The cook time needed a little adjusting. And, because most ovens preheat from the top and bottom, I needed to cover the pastry while the oven was heating. Once the oven reached the correct baking temperature, I removed the foil and continued baking. The result was perfect and had the advantage of being in a lovely ceramic dish!
Start by prepping your ingredients. Cook the chicken and cut it into 2” dice. Then peel the carrots and cut them into similar sized pieces. Chop a medium onion.
Melt some butter in a large saucepan with a lid over low heat. Add the carrots and onions, give them a good stir, put the lid on the pot and let them cook until they are soft.
Once the veggies are cooked, add some more butter, turn the heat up to medium low and stir in flour. Stir the flour constantly for two minutes or so. This will cook off the raw flour flavor.
Now slowly pour in one cup of white wine and three cups of chicken stock, stirring vigorously the whole time. Adding the cold liquid slowly (a few tablespoons at a time) and stirring well after each addition will keep the flour from forming clumps. Don’t rush this step.
Once your gravy is made, stir in the chicken, peas and tarragon. Taste it and add salt as needed.
Fill the pie pan with the chicken and vegetables and prepare the pastry.
If you are using store-bought pastry, one sheet unfolded should be just the right thickness. If you have made your own, roll it out to about ¼” thick. Cut a circle big enough to sit on top of the filling without overlapping. If you like, you can score it.
Then place it on the filling, brush all over with an egg wash and put it in a COLD oven if you are using a ceramic dish. Of course this can also be made in a regular pie pan. In which case you should preheat the oven!
The finished pie should have a golden, flaky crust with the filling bubbling up around the edges. Let it cool for a minute or two before spooning it out (make sure you include some of the crust with each serving). The sweet peas, the flavor of tarragon and the simple puff pastry topping make a lighter, brighter version of the dish. Just right for Spring!
CHICKEN POTPIE WITH FRESH PEAS AND TARRAGON
- 4-6 cups diced chicken
- 2 cups dice carrots
- 1 cup diced onion
- 8 oz fresh peas
- ½ cup (one stick) butter, divided
- ½ cup flour
- 1 cup white wine
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 ½ tbps fresh tarragon chopped finely
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 sheet puff pastry thawed
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp cream
- Preheat the oven to 375 degree.
- Melt ¼ cup butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the carrots and onions, stir to coat and cover the pan. Cook over low heat for 5-8 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
- Add the remaining ¼ cup of butter to the pan and increase the heat to medium low. When the butter has melted, sprinkle ½ cup of flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium and slowly add the wine and stock in ¼ cup increments. Stir constantly and do not add the next amount until the first one is fully absorbed, and the sauce is smooth.
- When the gravy has thickened add the tarragon, salt, chicken, peas and ¼ cup heavy cream. Stir to mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Pour the filling into a deep-dish pie pan and set aside while you prepare the pastry.
- Unfold one sheet of puff pastry and cut it into a circle which will fit inside the pie pan. Score the pastry and brush well with the egg and cream mixture.
- Place in the center of a preheated oven and cook for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is risen and brown and the filling is bubbling hot
Note: If you are using a ceramic dish, cover the pie with foil and put it in a COLD oven. Turn the heat up to 375 degree and uncover the pie once the oven has reached the correct temperature. Cook the pie for 30-35 minutes.