There is nothing more delicious than comfort food, and no food more comforting than pot pies. The other night I decided I just had to make one – out of leftovers, naturally!
I’d roasted a small 4 lb chicken for dinner Wednesday night. We each ate a leg and thigh, with the beautiful breasts just begging for a gravy and mashed potato accompaniment at another meal. At least that’s what I thought. My partner heard the chicken begging to be turned into pot pie instead. So, pot pie it was!
I usually have homemade pie dough on hand. If not, it is as simple to make as pushing the pulse button on the food processor. Two cups of flour, butter, salt and ice water did the trick in less than a minute. I put the dough into the refrigerator to chill and took out the pan of chicken.
The chicken fat had risen to the top and congealed. I put it into a frying pan with some butter. I added half an onion, chopped fine, ditto a clove of garlic. When they were softened I sprinkled in flour and continued cooking to remove the raw taste uncooked flour has.
Meanwhile, I scooped all the gelled chicken juice out of the roaster and boned and cubed the breast meat. The gelled juices mixed with the roux of chicken fat & butter to make a nice gravy, one I seasoned with thyme and salt.
I cubed a few Yukon gold potatoes, chopped some carrots and celery and microwaved them together for 5-6 minutes to pre-cook them. While they cooked, I rolled out the pastry. Using my deep-dish apple pie plate as a guide, I rolled out a large bottom crust and a smaller top crust. With the bottom crust nicely overhanging the sides of the pie dish, I filled the pie with chicken, pre-cooked vegetables and gravy. Then I tossed in a handful of peas, because you can’t have a pot pie without peas, and lay on the top crust. It had a slight overhang.
Some cooks trim the bottom crust close and roll the top crust under the bottom, but I find that to be harder than folding the bottom crust up over the top and rolling it into a pretty pastry lip. That done, I appliqued some pastry pieces onto the top with a moistened finger, cut a small steam vent in the pie’s center and brushed the whole thing with half and half. I could have used an egg wash, but the half and half was open, “just going bad in the refrigerator!”
I baked the pie for about an hour at 375 degrees until it was golden brown and bubbling in the center. It turns out that it took longer to bake than to make! Start to finish, the pie was assembled in 45 minutes. The prep, cooking and coming together/cooling off time was just under 2 hours. Not bad at all! We ate dinner at 8 p.m.
Besides creating a beautiful and very tasty dinner, I used up leftovers as I made room in the refrigerator for the half of pie we ate for lunch the next day. The chicken carcass, a butt of celery, the other half of the onion and some carrots went into a stock pot to simmer on the wood stove overnight. (If you don’t have a wood stove, use a slow cooker.) It made great broth for a recipe I’m planning soon. Egg and spinach soup, anyone?