Chicken Pot Pie

I think I hate writing these.


I said it. I confessed.

The truth is I'm not open or honest enough to be writing these posts! I know that writing blog posts on a blog is controversial when it comes to food these days.

Yawn - who wants to read about my life or how I came to create a recipe, you're only here for the recipe and nothing else, right? Maybe you are but my opinion is "learn to scroll or learn to cook on your own" but in between the time I spend creating recipes, testing them, tweaking them and shooting them I truthfully don't spend much time thinking about writing so basically you all have to suffer through my rambling.

I have all these ideas and then I procrastinate my way out writing them down. Or I get distracted by a Game of Thrones marathon.

The writing for me is like a roadblock. I guess I've felt that way for years, since I graduated from college with a shiny magazine journalism degree, I stuck it in a box and a found a job that would help me pay the bills and hopefully stress me out way less than those final journalism classes did. My journalism capstone was a nightmare, it was so stressful I'd have anxiety attacks and I don't think I ever got a full nights sleep because I'd wake up short of breath thinking I was late for class or an equipment deadline which cost boatloads of money and I was a broke student.

So, writing is hard. I am acutely aware that someone out there *might* read this and I don't think that helps either. I'm trying to take the pressure off little by little and forget that you are reading (but I love you for doing so if you are, really) and write a little more freely.

It's easy for me to write about the process of cooking more because - that's the joy part for me, the cooking, the act of it, the learning and executing. So let me ramble less and maybe let's talk about food now?

I longed for chicken pot pies when I was a kid but I'd only ever seen the frozen tv dinner kind on TV so you can imagine my shock (absolutely scorched mouth) and disappointment (how is chicken suspended in gravy DRY??) when I finally had one in my teen years. This one is three times as good because it's homemade and because it's made with the attention given by someone who knows exactly what they don't want when they slip a spoon through the shiny golden crust into a big pool of creamy sauce.

The crust layer is. Oof. It's important.

That buttery rich crust with a tad bit of crunch before you sink your fork into the absolutely luxurious depths of silken gravy and chunky chicken and veggies... important!! In my opinion, people make pot pies in individual ramekins to maximize the amount of flaky dough they have per bite but it's possible to make a large family style pie and be just as satisfied. Though one greedy housemate who cracks into all of the crust and doesn't share will disappoint you. Don't say I didn't warn you... or just don't share. I didn't.

If you have recently made a roast chicken/turkey I mean recently, within a few days, you can use what's left over from it to make this recipe so long as you can get at least 2 cups off cooked and cubed chicken off the roast chicken. Warm the cooked roast chicken parts in the same manner as suggested below for raw chicken - by warming it in the chicken stock. This adds moisture back to the chicken which prevents it from sucking up all of the creamy, broth-rich filling. When you do the same starting with raw chicken you infuse the chicken stock with more chicken flavor and you don't deplete the chicken of it's tenderness. If you're using a roast simmer in chicken stock for 15 minutes before removing and following the rest of the recipe as is.

About the broth this recipe calls for 1 quart of broth which we'll poach the chicken in, cook the vegetables in and then incorporate into our bechamel. This means don't even think about pouring it down the drain until the pie is completed and assembled. At the end when the stock is last called for if for some reason you've lost more in evaporation and absorbing than I have, make up the difference with a bit of water.

You can make your own pie crust but... why? Usually my answer is why NOT go the extra step but I'm also happy to make my life easier when I'm able to and don't feel I'm sacrificing much. Buy a pre-made pie crust, they sell them at almost any supermarket these days and save yourself one step. Be sure to take it out of the fridge before you start cooking so it's malleable enough to unroll when the time comes.

serves 4-6

1 qt (4 cups) chicken stock, reserve
4 chicken thighs
2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups diced carrots
1/2 cup frozen peas
6 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
reserved chicken stock
salt and fresh black pepper
1 pie crust
1 egg, whisked + 1 tsp water

Remove pie crust from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.

In a sauce pot bring 1 quart of chicken stock to a boil and add chicken thighs, cooking for 20 minutes. Cover the pot, turn off heat and let stand for 20 minutes.

Preheat over to 400 degrees.

Peel and dice potatoes and carrots into 1/2 inch cubes. Remove cooked chicken from stock and bring the stock back to a boil.

Cook potatoes and carrots in the stock for 5-8 minutes until they're tender but not fully cooked through, if poked with a fork you should feel a bit os resistance in the middle of the vegetables. Remove vegetables from the stock with a slotted spoon and set aside in a large bowl, reserve the remaining chicken stock.

With the cooked chicken now cool enough to handle remove and discard skin and bones. Shred or dice chicken into 1/2 inch pieces. Set aside the chicken in same bowl with vegetables, add frozen peas, sprinkle with salt (suggest a 1/2 tsp) and a few cracks of fresh pepper.

In a clean pot over medium heat add butter, onion, bay leaf and thyme, saute until onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add flour and stir to combine, there should be no visible white clumps of flour, get it all coated in butter and grab a whisk. Add milk a little at a time, it will clump and thicken, slowly add more and keep whisking until you reach a creamy consistency and all milk is added.

Add 2 cups of the remaining chicken stock. You should have just enough but discard any remaining. If you don't have 2 full cups, add water to make the difference. Whisk while you bring it back to a simmer, you should feel and see it thicken in 3-4 minutes.

Add salt (suggest 1/2 tsp) fresh black pepper and mustard powder, whisk to combine.  Pour the thickened mixture over the bowl full of veggies and chicken, fold gently and pour into a large baking dish or single serving baking cups/ramekins - fill with 1 cup of filling.

Unroll pie crust cut as needed and drape over the baking dishes, overlapping the dish by a centimeter and trim excess dough, if needed.

Whisk egg and water in a small bowl and brush pie crusts. Slice a few holes into the center of the crust to reduce spill as it cooks. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

Let rest for 10 minutes and serve.

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