29 November 2012

Chicken Pot Pies - Classic Cold-Weather Comfort Food

I'm not really a collector, and I don't like to accumulate a lot of "stuff." But kitchen and dining things (oh, and books) are my one weakness. As if I needed any more of it, on a recent reconnaissance mission to a new thrift store in town, a couple of things jumped out at me and had to be purchased. Two lovely crystal goblets and four circa-1960 CorningWare (the original Cornflower pattern) 1 3/4-cup capacity Petite Pans. 

Of course, they were just screaming "Chicken Pot Pies," so I swung by the grocery store on my way home and picked up some organic chicken and vegetables. Turns out, the Petite Pans make the perfect size main-dish serving. I'm going to keep my eyes open, hoping to come across at least four more. I'll be using them next for my Shepherd's Pie or Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie.

Once I find four or eight more of these or similar pans (like the 16-ounce round Corning French White), I can take advantage of the next chilly, stay-at-home kind of day, making a double or triple batch and freezing them. It's so nice to be able to pull a homemade comfort food meal out of the freezer on a day you can't, or don't want to, cook.

What is your favorite cold-weather comfort food? Favorite vintage, or new, find?

Individual Chicken Pot Pies / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Chicken Pot Pies

(Makes 4 main-dish pies)

Pastry (see below)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
2/3 cup diced carrots
2 cups halved and sliced mushrooms (1/2-pound package)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons dry sherry, optional
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas

1 In 12-inch skillet, heat oil. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; brown on both sides, cooking for a total of 20 to 30 minutes or until done. If you prefer your pies with shredded chicken, shred it now using two forks. If you prefer diced, set the chicken aside to cool a bit for neater dice. (Or you can use 2 1/2 cups or so of leftover shredded or diced cooked chicken, in which case you would skip this step.)

2 Preheat oven to 400F/205C/Gas6. In same skillet, melt butter and saute onion for 3 minutes, scraping up the brown bits from cooking the chicken. Add celery, bell pepper and carrots; saute for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt; saute for 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for a minute or two. Gradually add broth, cream and sherry; cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly and thickened. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Stir in the chicken and peas. (It's easy to forget about the peas because all the other vegetables went in at the beginning. But don't! The peas are wonderful.) Adjust seasoning. Divide mixture among four 14-ounce ramekins.

3 Roll out the pie crust to nearly 1/4-inch thick. Using your ramekin as a template, cut out 4 circles (or in my case, squares) about 1/2 inch greater in diameter than the ramekins. Top each ramekin with a circle (or square) of dough, fold excess under, press down the edges or crimp with a fork, and cut a 1-inch slit, or prick with fork, to vent. Place on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

If you like, prepare ahead of time. Chill filling, assemble, cover pies and keep refrigerated until ready to bake. Preheat oven to 400F/205C/Gas6 50 minutes before serving time. Put pies in oven 35 minutes before serving time. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


(food processor* method)

1 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (7.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon lemon juice or cider vinegar

1 With metal blade in place, add flour, salt and baking powder to work bowl of food processor. Turn on for three seconds to combine. Add half the frozen butter and process for 10 seconds or until mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Add remaining butter and pulse for six 1-second pulses, or until the frozen butter is the size of small peas.

2 In cup, combine lemon juice and ice water. Pour, a tablespoon at a time, over all of flour mixture, doing a 1-second pulse after each tablespoon, or just until dough forms large clumps; do not over-process. (The amount of water you will need depends on your climate and the moisture content of your flour.)

3 Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten slightly into a 4-inch round disk; double wrap; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to three days. (Let thoroughly chilled dough stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling.)

* I have the Cuisinart DLC-10E, which (understandably after all the years I've had it) is no longer available. I have since updated to a current model.

Note: This recipe is only slightly different than my smaller appetizer-size Chicken Pot Pies, for which the ingredients must be more finely diced.


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Richard Sheppard said...

Oh Yum! I can't wait to make this pot pie. I've never made one before but I can just imagine how good it will taste. Since this looks like it takes a while to make, it might be good to make two and freeze one for a rainy day. I'm also thinking a cold beer might go with this one. Thanks for stretching my menu options in new directions!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Richard! If you double the recipe you could make one big pie in a 1.5- to 2-quart baking dish as well as the four individual pies.

Bonnie said...

Oh, chicken pot pie is my one (of many) weakness. I wish I had thought of it for tonight's dinner. I always add some fresh italian parsley in my pie crust. Thanks for the inspiration.

My mother's corning ware was the orginal corn flower pattern. It brings back wonderful memories. Bonnie

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Bonnie. I just love it when something stirs up wonderful memories! I like the idea of putting some fresh Italian parsley in the crust - I'll have to give that a try next time.

Cranberry Morning said...

That looks simply wonderful - warm and cozy!! And if I'm counting right, that's actually THREE things for which you have a weakness. lol

Thanks for this delicious-looking recipe!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Judy. Yep, you counted right. But I'm like Dorcas Lane in Lark Rise to Candleford - I have lots of "one weakness"es!

Unknown said...

Oh wow, my mom had that exact CorningWare petite pan..that cornflower pattern was so much a part of my childhood! :)
And let's not forget the pot pie.. YUM! I've become a fan of them as I have matured, I would have rather gone to my room than eaten a pot pie when I was a kid! I love that my tastes have changed over the years.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Jenn, thank you. I even liked the frozen chicken pot pies when I was a kid. It was one of the few frozen foods in our house. Never liked the beef ones, though. They were nothing like my mother's good English beef pies. How fun that your mom had the cornflower pans - a real blast from the past!

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

You know, I almost utter the classic (and some think, blasphemous) “What’s for dinner?” as I go to your column every Friday. I get the same rush of anticipation followed by a degree of gastronomic joy or petulant rejection same as if I were 10 years old (by Jing, I am 10 years old). Chicken pot pie is pretty much wasted on me, though I like to pick out the chicken and – counterintuitively for me – the peas and carrots. I also absolutely invariably inevitably inescapably…burn my tongue. I know of no better insulating material than chicken pot pie crust. Calderas of volcanoes are not as well sealed. Comfort food on a chill day? Allow me to insert “after a dehydrating workout.” Nothing better than cold, pure water…or OJ or apple juice, chilled – the Simply line of juices (no substitutes for them).

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sully, I often wonder what I would feed you if you came for a visit! Hmmm ... Maybe I would have you submit a list of requests in order to come up with a menu. Lemon meringue pie, for sure ... And I would let the chicken pot pie cool for a bit so you wouldn't burn your mouth. (I shouldn't snicker at that - I've been known to burn my mouth on raspberry turnovers.)

alissa said...

As a new reader of your blog, I'm almost overwhelmed with all of the delicious looking recipes. I have to make a hard decision now - your shepherd's pie would make my husband very happy, but the chicken pot pie is calling my name, filled with childhood nostalgia. Perhaps one this weekend and one next week? :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Alissa, thank you! I hope you will try both. And DO let me know how they turned out for you!

Sippity Sup said...

You picked the right day for it. Nothing but rain here. GREG

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Ooh, I love a rainy day, Greg. Especially with pots of tea and a savory pie.

Debbie said...

Yummy, yum....what a wonderful dinner! One of my favorite comfort foods!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Debbie! (I love that you called your husband "a darling husband" in your profile!)

SImple and Serene Living said...

I just found some great gluten free flour, so I am going to try these (minus the peas)I have to admit that I hate peas. Thanks for sharing the recipe and you got some great "so vintage" finds :)


Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Laura! I didn't know you were gluten-free. I've developed several GF recipes; just check my Recipes/Reviews page. I love fresh or frozen peas, but I HATE canned peas (I'll have to tell about an "incident" with canned peas).

LANA said...

Chicken pot pie is one of the best things to eat on a cold winter day. Yours looks wonderful.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Lana! I'm always happy when it gets to be Comfort Food Weather.

Marina@Picnic at Marina said...

My teenager is screaming chicken pot pie too, he just loves it! Delicious! Thanks! :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Marina, thank you. Of course, a teenage boy would probably want to eat two this size!