The ultimate comfort food—creamy chicken and vegetable filling sitting beneath a thyme-infused pâte brisée crust. This dish is very popular with kids at the bakery. Poaching the chicken and using the poaching liquid for the required stock gives an extra dimension of flavor. If you are short on time, buy a roast chicken and shred three firmly packed cups, and use 2 1/2 cups canned stock. You will need ovenproof bowls or ramekins that each hold about 1 1/2 cups of filling.–John Barricelli
LC Cheater’s Guide To Chicken Pot Pie Note
Chicken pot pie isn’t exactly something that you just sort of toss together on a whim at the very last second on a Tuesday night. It’s a labor of love, and this insanely rich recipe is no exception. A labor of love, this soothingly subtle-flavored yet exceptionally comforting version is perhaps best saved for when you can undertake it in stages. A few hints that just may minimize the labor and maximize the love…
No ramekins? No problem. Simply reach for a 3-quart gratin or casserole dish. Although of course if you prefer individual portions, you needn’t limit yourself to ramekins. Any smallish ovenproof vessel will work. (Finally, another use for those French onion soup bowls!)
You do, of course, realize that if you don’t have the time nor the inclination to make your own pâte brisée pastry for the crust, you won’t be damned to hell? Simply substitute your favorite biscuit dough or store-bought puff pastry, yes? Just keep an eye on the crust and if it turns golden brown, loosely cover it with foil for the duration of the baking time.
This is exactly why everyone is always lecturing you to toss a second chicken in the oven while you roast one for dinner. Leftover roast chicken is like money in the bank. Uh, make that filling in the pot pie.
Individual Chicken Pot Pies
For the herbed pâte brisée
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup ice water
For the filling
- One whole chicken
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 large red onion finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 1/2 ounces shiitake mushrooms stemmed and quartered (about 2 cups)
- 3 carrots cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice (about 1 1/3 cups)
- 1 parsnip cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 3/4 cup frozen peas
- 3/4 cup frozen pearl onions (or substitute fresh pearl onions, peeled and parboiled)
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or other herb (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Pinch nutmeg (optional)
- 1 egg lightly beaten, for egg wash
Make the pastry
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and thyme. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow and steady stream, a little bit at a time, until the dough just comes together. You may not need quite all of the water. The dough should not be wet or sticky. If the dough is too dry and does not hold together, add a little more water.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide in 2 and wrap each half in plastic wrap, shaping them into flattened disks. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Make the filling
- Rinse the chicken. Place it in a large saucepan or small pot, just large enough to hold the chicken comfortably, and add enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat and skim the foam that is floating on the top of the water. Add up to 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot with a large slotted spoon and let cool. Pull the meat from the bones and shred it. Discard the skin and bones.
- Strain the stock through a fine strainer. Measure 2 1/2 cups and set aside. Refrigerate or freeze the remaining stock for another use.
- In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the red onion, mushrooms, carrots, and parsnip, season with salt and pepper, and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the brandy and simmer until evaporated. Add the flour, stir to blend with the butter, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the 2 1/2 cups reserved chicken stock, bring to a simmer, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the milk, bring to a simmer, and cook until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has reduced to the consistency of a thick white sauce, 7 to 12 minutes. Add the peas, pearl onions, thyme or other herb, if using, parsley, nutmeg, and shredded chicken. Season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Arrange a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick silicone baking mat.
- Roll the dough 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Cut rounds slightly larger than the diameter of your ovenproof bowls or ramekins. Place the rounds on another baking sheet and set aside in the refrigerator.
- Ladle the chicken mixture into the ramekins. The mixture should come all the way up to the top of the bowl so that the crust doesn’t sink into the filling and soak. Top each bowl with a round of dough, tucking the excess around the edges of the ramekins. Brush with the egg wash. Use a knife or scissors to cut a vent in the crust. Set the dishes on the prepared baking sheet and bake, rotating the sheet about two-thirds of the way through the cooking, until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is the best chicken pot pie ever. It takes awhile to prepare, but to save time you can make parts of it ahead, and take the shortcut suggested of buying a chicken already cooked. I couldn’t find frozen pearl onions at my store, so I bought them fresh, and parboiled them to make peeling easy. If you don’t like thyme, you can easily substitute another herb. The pastry yields enough for two batches, so you can freeze one for the next time—and there will be a next time, trust me. I didn’t have ramekins large enough to use, so I substituted for my onion soup bowls, which were the perfect size. My husband said these were the best he ever had—true, delicious comfort food.
This pot pie recipe is easy to follow, with a couple of suggestions: Allow more time for the carrots and parsnips to soften, and less time for the mixture to thicken. In spite of a long list of lovely root veggies, herbs, and aromatics, the sauce needed a flavor bump, so I added a dash of nutmeg. The thyme-infused crust and nutmeg help the dish immensely, and you still taste an abundance of cream and onion. One note: You only need to shred meat from about half of the chicken–I found that was enough for me.
Originally published April 12, 2010