This (beat) is (beat) the best (beat) chicken pot pie you will ever eat.
Whoa, startin’ out a little strong there, are we? No story? No “this is what I did today”? No “I ate this with my grandmother when I was six years old”?
Self, calm down. The truth is, growing up, I didn’t like chicken pot pie. What the hey, right? I’m not sure what it was. Maybe I thought gravy looking white stuff tasted icky. Maybe I didn’t like cubed carrots. Maybe it was because the only chicken pot pie I ever ate was at school, where the crust was the consistency and taste of a spray-painted egg carton. All unnecessary negativities aside, I’m an adult now (psh, hah, let’s all laugh at that) and I absolutely enjoy, and crave, chicken pot pie. Let’s think for a minute. It includes two of my total favorites. 1. Sauce. It’s kind of like soup. You all know how I feel about soup and all of those ingredients mashed up into one spoonful. And 2. Biscuits. The top isn’t really a biscuit, but it’s like a thin flaky and doughy one. Goodness, why are all of my cravings centered around butter and cream and carbohydrates? I’ve a feeling I’m not alone in this.
It should come to no surprise that I’m, once again, referencing Ina Garten. This time, though, she’s got a co-star: Smitten Kitchen! Oh, how I love them both, both filled with foundational references that are good enough to keep coming back to over a lifetime. This recipe is going to be, kind of, an adaptation of Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, which is an adaptation of Ina’s recipe.
chicken pot pie
2 whole (4 split) hormone-free chicken breasts, with bone and skin
3 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 onions, chopped
3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups frozen peas
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup (or more) ice-cold water
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350º. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and roast for 40 minutes (or until cooked through). Let the chicken rest until cool enough to handle and pull the meat from the bones and discard skin. Shred the meat with your fingers and set aside.
Heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan. In a large pot, melt the butter and sauté the onions with salt and pepper (and, if you’re like me, a little cayenne) on medium-low heat until translucent, about 10 or 15 minutes. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock and simmer over low heat, continuing to stir, for 1 minute until thickened slightly. Stir in the heavy cream. Add the chicken, carrots, and peas and mix well.
To create the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the diced butter (this butter should be COLD. Like, real cold. The non-melted fat in the precooked dough creates little pockets of air in the postcooked dough. We know those little pockets as flakiness!) to the flour mixture and quickly crumble the butter pieces into the flour, until it resembles little peas. Add the ice-cold water and fold it all until it just comes together to make a dough (you may need to add more water; just add small amounts until it all holds). Turn the dough onto a floured surface and quickly knead it into a ball. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375º. Divide the filling equally between 4 oven-proof bowls (or, in my case, coffee cups). Divide the dough into 4 quarters and roll each one into an 8″ circle. Brush the outer edges of each bowl with egg wash and place the dough on top. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make sure it sticks. Brush the dough with egg wash and cut 3 slits in the top. If you’d like, make little personalizations (like initials or hearts) with dough scraps and add to the top. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and bake, on a baking sheet, for 1 hour or until the dough is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
Like I said, this pie is what’s up. I can picture you all hovering over your bowls, building forts around it with your arms and cereal boxes and daring anything moving to come toward you. Protect it with your spoons and elbows and the threat of its boiling, molten lava-like temperature. That may not work, though. My tongue is still burned from dinner. And that was (looking at watch) six hours ago. Oh well. Time for another pie.