27 January 2014

Eats: chicken pot pie

It’s rare that Mr. P suggests anything at all when I ask him, during each weekly meal planning, what he’d like for dinner. It’s even more rare that he suggests something I’d already wanted to try to make! Usually he just shrugs, or perhaps suggests a meal that’s already on the plan (tacos, duh).

So when he suggested chicken pot pie, I knew we must have it, that it was completely meant to be. I’ve never made a chicken pot pie, but I’ve had it on my Pinterest board of recipe ideas for TWO YEARS, but was never brave enough to attempt it. Also, Mr. P can be a bit iffy on casserole-like dishes, so there was double the risk involved: that I’d screw it up, or that he wouldn’t want to eat it. But he suggested it, so I decided to give it a try!

I loosely followed this recipe from Seeded at the Table (formerly Pennies on a Platter). Lately I’ve eschewed cream-of soups whenever possible, and I liked the easy roux-based sauce Nikki uses. Plus, she gave me confidence to use refrigerated pie crusts, which really makes this whole recipe a piece of cake. A piece of pie? A delicious piece of pot pie.

Be sure to set the crusts out early, so they’re nearly at room temperature when you start to work with them. Don’t set them on the heat exhaust of your gas stove while it’s preheating to 400 degrees, because you forgot to set them out earlier. That is, unless you want a too-pliable, half-baked roll of pie crust on your hands. Just saying.

Place one of the pie crusts in a greased pie pan:

And fill it up with whatever chicken and veggies you have on hand! I used half of a rotisserie chicken and some broccoli that was getting a bit too floppy.

I also added some shredded cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese, because CHEESE. In a PIE.

Now it’s time to make the creamy sauce. Start with half a stick of butter (four tablespoons, or 1/4-cup) and melt it over low heat. Then add parsley, salt, pepper, and three tablespoons of flour.

Don’t ask me how much parsley, salt, and pepper. You know I’m just going to say “some”.

I mixed up the roux (still cooking over low heat), then added about a cup of frozen veggie mix.

Once the veggies were warm and the roux was thickening, as you can see above (see how I’m dragging the spatula and it leaves a trail?), I added 1 1/12 cups of chicken broth and 2/3 cups of milk, stirring continuously.

I simmered that until it had thickened a bit. I also employed the good ol’ “was ‘some’ enough” taste test to make sure it was seasoned appropriately. If anything, this sauce should be a bit over-salted – there’s no salt in the vegetables, after all. But don’t fuss over adding lots of other spices! Believe it or not, there is a ton of flavor in this pie without a lot of spice.

After simmering an extra ten minutes or so, I poured it into the pie pan with the chicken and broccoli. No stirring necessary!

Then I just covered it with the second pie crust. I won’t win any awards for most beautiful pie (see above: heat exhaust, floppy crust, etc.) but fortunately, it’ll taste delicious even if it looks a bit wonky.

Finally, I cut an X for ventilation and brushed the top of the crust with an egg wash. Just mix one egg with a tablespoon of water, and brush it over the crust:

Ok, time to bake! But before you stick it in, wrap the edges with foil. And I do mean ONLY the edges. It looks weird and it’s a bit unwieldy, but it really is a necessary step! The edges will brown way before the top, so be sure to wrap them up.

Then pop that pie in the 400-degree oven for 45 minutes. Marvel over how you just made a pie without making pie crusts. Then pull it out and look at how pretty an imperfect pie can be!

I cut myself that small slice at first and “mmmmmmm”’d my way through eating it. Then I cut a second piece. And possibly a third. Mr. P did something similar, and we finally accepted that really... this is a pie that serves four. Or, two full-grown adults that will eat leftovers and were really craving a chicken pot pie.

Although this isn’t the fastest or simplest recipe around, you do get BIG flavor impact from the buttery crust mixed with the veggies. And it looks so much prettier than a casserole or a soup! It’s totally worth putting a bit of extra effort for a weekend dinner, or make-ahead (directions here) for a cold weeknight. And goodness knows we still have a lot of those ahead!

Finally, here’s this week’s meal plan at Casa P:

Sunday: dinner out with my boss, my boss’s boss, and my former boss. So many ways I could make an ass of myself at just one meal!

Monday: chili and baked potatoes, because it will be twenty degrees below freezing out

Tuesday: lime peanut chicken salad (this recipe, but over lettuce instead of noodles!)

Wednesday: pizza at an event with Mr. P’s school

Thursday: pork chops with gnocchi and green beans

Friday: rosemary chicken over rice with green salad

Saturday: tortellini with spinach and sausage

Have a fantastic week, dear readers! Bundle up!