As summer swiftly turns to fall, our cooking choices start to change. Hearty comfort food that’s too hot for summer once again begins to grace home kitchens and restaurants. A classic example is chicken pot pie. The best of both worlds, chicken pot pie combines crispy pastry with rich chicken stew. While made-from-scratch chicken pot pie is time-consuming to make, this American comfort food classic is well worth the effort.
Tips and Tricks
A key tip to remember when making pie crust is to use chilled butter. This step is critical for a flaky crust. If the butter is too warm when added to the flour, it will mix too thoroughly, ensuring a crust that is tough and hard. To avoid this, keep the butter cold until the last possible moment before mixing with the flour. If pressed for time, a good quality store-brought pie crust will also work.
For the best chicken filling, roast a whole chicken beforehand. This added step, although time-consuming, will ensure a more flavorful and complex chicken filling. To roast a whole chicken, season the bird with your choice of herbs and spices (try to match the roasting flavoring profile with the filling used later), and cook. When the chicken has cooled, simply tear apart the meat from the bone and set aside. Keep the bones — these can be used to make a tasty chicken soup or broth for your chicken pot pie filling.
Chicken pot pie is a great item to freeze. Not only will the chicken filling freeze well, an entire pie keeps well in the freezer. Cooks can also choose to make smaller pies and freeze them for quick future meals. Simply take out and pop in the oven for a hassle-free meal. Any leftover chicken broth should also be frozen. A helpful trick is to freeze leftover broth in ice cube trays, especially if the broth is particularly rich. These cubes of broth can be popped out and used for easy cooking.
Chicken Pot Pie
(By Executive Chef Anand Sastry, Highway Restaurant & Bar and Main Street Tavern)
Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Executive Chef Anand Sastry has decades of experience working in some of the best restaurants in the world, including the Michelin three-star Troisgros in France and Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernardin in New York City. He has also worked as a private chef to King Hussein of Jordan. At Highway Restaurant & Bar and Main Street Tavern, the food is inspired by Sastry’s farm-to-table upbringing.
For Basic Pie Dough:
- 2.5 cups bleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- .5 cup vegetable shortening
- 1.5 sticks of butter
- 4 tbsp ice water
- 1 egg white
- Place, flour, salt, sugar vegetable shortening in a mixer. Combine for a few minutes.
- Then add chopped chilled butter and ice cold water mix till it forms a dough.
- Leave to chill for 4 hours
- 5 tbsp chicken fat
- 1 tbsp margarine
- One whole chicken, roasted and torn into chunks
- 1.25 cup of flour
- 2 pints of strong chicken stock
- 4 carrots
- 5 sticks of celery
- 1 onion
- 1 leek
- 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
- Salt, white pepper
- Chop up the vegetables roughly and place in chicken stock. Cook until tender. Strain the vegetables, keeping the stock.
- Place chicken fat and margarine in a pan and turn on the heat. Add the flour until the mixture starts to form crumbs. Very slowly, add the warm stock, a little at a time till it becomes a thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, place chicken pieces and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Then, add the warm sauce until everything binds together. Set aside to cool.
- On a floured table, roll the dough into a circle (depending on the size of pie dish you have) about 1/4 inch thick. Place in pie dish. Then add the filling. Roll out the top crust in the same manner as the bottom.
- Cut and trim sides of excess crust. Brush the top with egg white and place in fridge for an hour.
- Bake at 380 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes. Then, turn down to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes. When the crust is brown, take out and leave to cool. Serve when ready.
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