Three years ago, not long after I started this blog, I prepared an easy chicken pot pie recipe from Kraft foods. The recipe, found HERE, used frozen vegetables, condensed soup, processed cheese, and pre-made puff pastry. While I'm sure that many of my more health food conscious readers just shuddered at that description, I'm not going to lie, it was good. My family really liked it.
But, since that first chicken pot pie, I have wanted to try my hand at making one from scratch, with fresh ingredients. Last week, I finally got around to creating this comfort food classic.
It was worth the wait!
I decided to slow cook the chicken in my crock pot, which allowed for tender, juicy meat and also created a flavorful broth that I would use in the "gravy" for the pot pie filling.
In the morning, I dropped 1 whole cut-up chicken into the crockpot, seasoned it with salt and pepper, added celery, carrots, onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, a handful of fresh parsley,some poultry seasoning, and a bay leaf. Then I poured in enough water to cover everything. I set the crock pot on low and let it simmer the day away.
Here's what it looked like 5-6 hours later.
I separated out the vegetables and chicken and then I poured everything that was left in the crock pot through a strainer. From this, I ended up with 8 cups of homemade chicken broth. Since I only needed around two cups of broth for the pie filling, I froze the rest into 2 cup portions.
Before I continued on with the "chicken" part of this chicken pot pie, I decided to make the pastry as it needed to chill for 30 minutes before I would be able to roll it out.
I largely borrowed my pastry recipe from Ina Garten's chicken pot pie recipe. I just cut it in half, since her recipe is for 4 individual pies and I was just making 1 family-sized pot pie.
As with most pastry recipes, you combine the dry ingredients and then cut in the fat. This time, shortening and butter qualified as "fat". The shortening makes for a flakier crust and the butter gives it wonderful flavor. Tip: The shortening and butter should both be cold.
That way, you can obtain this crumbly texture as you mix the ingredients with a pastry cutter. All of those little chunks of fat give off steam as they bake in the crust, creating air pockets in the pastry and ideally making for a light, flaky crust.
Once the fat was cut into the flour mixture, I stirred in just enough ice-cold water to help the dough stick together.
Once the dough starts to come together, I put my hands in the bowl and knead it just until I can form it into a ball. You don't want to work the dough any more than you absolutely need to, because the more you work the dough, the stronger the gluten bonds in the flour become. Strong gluten bonds = tough pastry. Since we're going for tender and flaky here, just remember not to overwork the dough.
I divided the dough into 2 parts, one for the top crust and one for the bottom. Then I wrapped them up and put them into the fridge for at least 30 minutes while I prepared the filling for the pot pie.
To make the filling, I melted 1/3 cup of butter in a skillet, then I added some diced onion to saute.
Once the onion was tender, I stirred in 1/3 cup of flour until well combined.
Next in was the yummy homemade broth that I cooked up with the chicken in the crock pot. Stir or whisk as you add the broth, so that you don't get any lumps in the gravy. Cook over medium to medium high heat until the mixture starts to thicken.
Then add in some milk or cream. Return to a low boil.
Once the sauce was finished, I turned off the heat and just let the skillet sit on the burner to stay warm.
By the time I finished picking all of the chicken from the bone, I had a LOT of chicken!
I cut up about 2-1/2 cups for the pot pie, then I put the rest into freezer bags and froze it for a later shortcut to chicken and dumplings, soups, or casseroles.
I added the cut up chicken with the carrots and celery from the crock pot and some green beans (because my family refuses to eat peas) to the sauce to complete the filling. You definitely want to taste this mixture and season it before assembling the pie. Mine was a little bland upon my first taste. I needed to go to work on it with the salt and pepper!
Okay, so now everything is ready except for the pastry...
I rolled chilled dough ball #1 to fit my pie plate.
Then I pinched the edges (not my greatest talent, as you can see) and baked the crust at 425 degrees for about 8-10 minutes.
Once the shell was pre-baked, I poured in the filling.
And then I rolled out chilled dough ball #2 and topped the pie off. I realize that the placement of the top crust looks a little haphazard in this photograph. I'm calling it "rustic"...
Brush the top of the pastry with 1 beaten egg. Then cut a few slits around the top to let the filling vent.
Look how perfectly golden brown this turned after 30 minutes in the oven! Oh, and look at that savory gravy oozing from the edges! Try not to drool....
Once the pot pie cools for a few minutes, then you're ready to slice...
Hooray! While this one pot pie was quite a project from start to finish, I am so glad that I finally made a chicken pot pie completely from scratch! I could certainly taste the "homemade" difference and I felt accomplished as I served this up to my family for dinner.
Here's my recipe for Homemade Chicken Pot Pie
For the chicken and broth:
Add one whole cut-up chicken to your crock pot. Salt and pepper liberally. Toss in 4 peeled carrots, 3-4 stalks celery, one onion- peeled and quartered, a fistful of fresh parsley, 3 peeled cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning, and bay leaf. Cover with water. Cook on LOW until the chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender. Remove the chicken to a dish and pick from the bone. Reserve 2-1/2 cups of chicken. Package the rest and freeze for later. Reserve the carrots and celery for the pot pie filling. Strain the broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve 1-1/2 cups of broth for the pot pie filling. Package the remaining broth and freeze for use in future recipes.
For the pastry (adapted from Ina Garten's Chicken Pot Pie recipe)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4-1/3 cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper
Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening and butter. Add in enough cold water to make the dough begin to stick together. Knead dough (in the bowl) until you can form the pastry into a ball. Divide dough in half. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
For the filling:
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1- 3/4 cups reserved chicken broth
1/2 cup milk, half & half, or cream
2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cups pre-cooked mixed vegetables (I used the carrots and celery from the crock pot and added some home-canned green beans)
1. Heat oven to 425°F.
2. Roll out bottom pie crust to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Place dough in pie plate. Cut off excess around the edges and crimp or pinch. Pre-bake shell for 8-10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until well blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened.
4.Stir in chicken and mixed vegetables. Remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into crust-lined pan.
5. Roll out second crust. Top pie, then seal edge. Brush with beaten egg. Cut slits in several places in top crust. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning if needed. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.