The weather is finally getting cool enough to bake and enjoy some hearty foods of the season. I thought it was the perfect time to make chicken pot pies. I load them up with “lots of stuff” as my husband would say, making them very filling and satisfyingly tasty. They are a complete meal all by themselves. No need for anything else except a glass of wine, and you are all set for dinner.
I made my basic, go-to dough and let it chill for about an hour before I rolled it out to make my crust. As my dough was chilling and setting, I cut and cooked my vegetables and chicken. I used about 1 1/2-2 lbs of cooked chicken, 2 large carrots, 1 onion, 1 large russet potato, 1 1/2 TBSP garlic and about 1 cup of frozen peas. I cut all my vegetables into a small dice. When cutting vegetables, try to cut everything fairly similar in size to make it more consistent and to help everything cook more evenly.
Cook the potatoes, onions and carrots first, since they are heartier vegetables and need a longer cooking time. Cook them for about about 10 or so minutes, or until they are soft and the onions are translucent.
Once the carrots, onions and potatoes are cooked, add the garlic, peas and chicken and mix thoroughly. Then make your white sauce or bechemal sauce. You can either make it separately and then add it to your chicken and vegetable mixture or you can just make the sauce in the same pan along with the mixture. I almost always just make my sauce in the same pan. That way, I am getting all the drippings that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan. For my bechamel sauce, I used about 1-1 1/2 cups of milk, about 3-4 TBSP flour, about 1 tsp each of salt and pepper and about 1 tsp each of fresh, chopped thyme and oregano. Mix everything together and continue to cook at a low simmer for about 10 minutes.
The dough recipe is enough for four medium/large ramekins, with both a bottom filling and a top crust. I find it is too much breading to have it come up the sides of the ramekins, so I just do the tops and bottoms. Use the ramekins as the guide and cut your dough to fit the dish. Spray the inside with cooking spray, then add your bottom layer. Once you have the bottom layer in the ramekins, start spooning in the chicken and vegetable mixture. I added about 8 oz of my filling and then topped it with another layer of my dough to make the crust.
I used a little extra dough to wrap around the edges of the ramekins as a seal and pinched the edges. Once your have the crust in place score a couple of large slices into the top of the crust so it can breathe while it is cooking and won’t explode. Then brush the tops and the edges with an egg wash. The pies are now ready to bake.
For my egg wash, I used one egg and a little heavy whipping cream and them whisked them together. Some people use water, others use milk, and some use heavy whipping cream. I prefer using the heavy whipping cream because it has more sugar in it, which provides a little better browning, but it is all a personal choice. There is no right or wrong way to make an egg wash. Bake the pies at 375* F for about 1 hour or until the crust is golden brown and light and flaky.
Chicken Pot Pie
1 1/2 cups flour
6 TBSP cold butter, cubed
1/2 tsp salt
4-6 TBSP heavy whipping cream
Blend the flour, butter and salt in the food processor until it is light and crumbly and well incorporated. Then add the egg and the heavy whipping cream and continue to process until it forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30-60 minutes, or up to 2 days, before using.
Once the dough is set, roll it out on a lightly floured surface and shape.
Chicken Pot Pie Filling
1 1/2-2 lbs cooked chicken, cubed
2 large carrots, small dice
1 medium onion, small dice
1 large russet potato, small dice
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 TBSP garlic
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup milk, add more a needed
olive oil and/or butter
3-4 TBSP flour
1 tsp each fresh thyme and oregano, chopped fine
Saute the carrots, onions and potatoes in either olive oil or butter, or a combination of both until cooked and the onions are translucent. Then add the garlic, peas and chicken and mix thoroughly. Add the milk, flour, salt & pepper and fresh herbs and combine well. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375*F
Spray the ramekins with cooking spray and add the bottom layer of dough. Fill the ramekins with the chicken filling then add the crust and a rim to make a tight seal around the edges. Score the top and brush with egg wash. Bake for about 1 hour or until the dough is golden brown and is light and flaky.
**** When making a white sauce or a bechamel sauce, you want to use roughly equal amounts of fat (oil and/or butter) and flour, to make a roux, which will thicken your milk sauce. Once all the ingredients are mixed in, bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for about 10 minutes to make sure the flour is cooked.