a.k.a. “Winging it when you don’t have a recipe!”
I love this time of year. Our brief moment of down time has arrived. (Well, as “down” as it ever gets around here.) We’re done with volleyball season, and basketball & wrestling seasons haven’t quite begun. And there’s not much for me to do outside right now – though Matt’s been busy reshingling the roof and hauling pigs to the locker.
This time of year, Sunday’s are soup days. After church I make up a huge vat of soup and we just sort of graze on it the rest of the day, and into the week. This week I toyed with the idea of chicken & dumplings, but ultimately decided on chicken pot pie. (Not soup, I know, but still one of those lovely, lazy one-pot things.) But instead of my usual pot pie recipe, made with a biscuit topping, I was craving real “pie” with a real pie crust. Problem was, I didn’t have a recipe for that kind of chicken pot pie. Let the adventures begin!
So first I threw a whole chicken in my biggest pot & covered with water. Added some bay leaves & kosher salt, brought it to a boil, then simmered it a couple of hours or until the water level had reduced by about half. I removed the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool, then pulled off the meat and shredded it. It’s so fast & easy to do after it’s been boiled like that! (I’m thinking I need to just boil a chicken every Sunday so I have the meat & broth to make stuff with later in the week!)
Then you need a pie crust. You can use a storebought one or make your own. I don’t have any lard right now, so I like this all-butter pie crust from the New York Times. I doubled the pie crust recipe, and then made it again so that I’d have two double crusts. (Leftovers!)
At this point I wasn’t sure if I should pre-bake the crust or not. I’ve never been good at pies in general, because I’ve never been good at pie crusts. Matt’s foster mom was a pie-making wizard, and that’s one of my few regrets is that I didn’t have her teach me how to do a pie crust.
Also, I discovered that to pre-bake a crust you’re supposed to have something called “pie weights”. I don’t have pie weights. Matt asked, “What would Julia Child do?” Well, she would wing it. And so did I. I covered the crusts with aluminum foil, filled them with rice, and pre-baked them at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Then removed the rice & foil and baked 7 minutes longer.
While the crusts were pre-baking I started on the pie filling, starting with frozen mixed veggies in a pot of water to cook. You can certainly use fresh chopped veggies as well. Either way, just boil them until barely fork-tender. Then skimmed the fat off the cooled chicken broth and threw it in a stock pot on the stove to melt. Next I whisked in flour, added milk, chicken broth, salt & pepper and continued to cook & whisk until it came to a boil. At this point it was supposed to thicken… but mine didn’t seem to be doing that. So once the vegetables were cooked and drained, I went ahead and added them to the sauce. It still didn’t seem to be thick enough so I ended up whisking in another 1/4 cup of flour. That seemed to do the trick. Finally I stirred in the shredded chicken.
Each pie crust held about 3 cups of filling.
Then it was time to put the top crust on. I just sort of folded the excess under and then crimped down the edge of the crust with a fork. I thought it would be good to put the pies on a rimmed baking sheet, just in case there was any overflow.
After about 25 minutes at 400 degrees… voila!
It turned out exactly how I was craving it… hot creamy filling inside a flaky crust! So don’t be afraid of a little food adventure! Just make it up as you go along (More recipes here!)
Chicken Pot Pie
This recipe makes 1 pot pie. Double it if you want leftovers, or throw the second pie in the freezer instead of the oven. When you’re ready to eat it, just put it directly from the freezer into a hot oven & bake until the filling is hot and the crust is golden brown. (I would guess that would be about an hour, starting with a frozen pot pie.)
1 double pie crust
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 16-oz bag frozen mixed vegetables (or equivalent diced fresh vegetables)
5 T. flour
1/2 c. milk
2-1/2 c. chicken broth
1 t. salt
pepper to taste
Boil vegetables until just fork-tender. In a separate saucepan, whisk together flour, milk and chicken broth until smooth. Salt & pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in cooked, drained vegetables and chicken.
Spoon filling into bottom pie crust. Add top crust and crimp edges to seal. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet in case of overflow, and place baking sheet in preheated 400 degree oven. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is golden brown.
Alternate recipe: Make the filling recipe but instead of putting it in a pie crust, place it in a 2-quart casserole dish and top with uncooked biscuits (either canned or homemade). Bake at same temperature, same amount of time.
1 year ago: