A few weeks ago, I was at the beach house (a far cry from the trailer!!!!!) with Benji and Titi, and as usual, I was cooking NOTHING when I was down there, which is obviously the total opposite of what my whole life has been about- (COOKING…COOKING….BAKING….COOKING…BAKING…, etc). Anyway, we were eating out at one of the few restaurants open all year long- The Crab Claw. They have outdoor seating under a tent with heaters which is perfecto for covid life. So, Benji ordered a special – chicken pot pie. He loves gooey, gravy-laden mixtures of food, so this one has it all going on for him. Surprisingly, it was extremely yummy and tasted totally as if somebody had concocted it in their own homey, homespun kitchen. I tasted it for future reference and future recipe development, of course but to Benji’s chagrin, as he hates me taking anything away from even one little miniscule morsel of food he’s inhaling. But he’s improved of late in this department, which I totally attribute to his wife’s positive influence of moderating his obsessive selfishness when it comes to food sharing. It was definitely delicious! My and Benji’s only slight complaint was that the underlayment would have been better served with actual pie crust vs. the more easily constructed, totally adequate, and boxed (but homemade tasting) ubiquitous Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry the chef apparently used. Also, there was no bottom crust, which could be seen as either a positive or a negative, depending on either the sogginess or flakiness of said crust. I’ve totally been hankering to make a good version of chicken pot pie to present to Benji and Randi and Ezra and Noah and Hannah and Danny (Dan, Randi’s husband doesn’t get mentioned here, because there would never be any left for him to even taste), and Titi- who is starting to like? Ameran food. I was all in for this. I found an old recipe I’d made, and I also put my hands on a bunch of other recipes, and I found a video on line that looked pretty, pretty good (you have to raise your voice like Larry David on Curb). I will put the link here: from Crouton Crackerjacks on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aaPyvlgjPs
I have a few comments about how the recipe could be improved from what I produced. It needed a little more salt- I used about 1/2 teaspoon in the filling and I’d up it to 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. I’d up my black pepper to 1 teaspoon of freshly cracked pepper from about 1/2 teaspoon. I used fresh thyme leaves- about 1 teaspoon, and I’d use 2 teaspoons next time. Additionally, I would add about 1/2 teaspoon cayenne to just give it a little hint of heat (nice alliteration). I did put a tiny sprinkling in which was not sufficiently detectable; thus, I sprinkled my plate of pie with some cayenne.
Final comments: next time, I’m upping the liquid to filling ratio this guy’s recipe called for by 1/3. Finally, the crust question. I did something very interesting. I used from Whole Foods, the Wholly Wholesome Organic Pie Shells for the bottom crusts, and that was fine. For the top crust, I used Trader Joe’s Frozen Pie Crusts. Even when you defrost them fully, they crumble and break. No problem. Just smoosh into a ball, and roll out like you would your own pie crust. Once you roll out the pie crust, you will definitely find that it is a bit too thick, so roll it out the way you would for a homemade crust of your own crust, and just trim the outside if it’s too big and throw out the excess.
Verdict: Ezra LOVED the finished project. He jumped up and down just upon my pronouncement that I had brought homemade chicken pot pie, and he ate at least 3 pieces! He said he’d actually been hoping for the last few days to eat some chicken pot pie. Noah seemed to like it, but didn’t say much, and Randi definitely seemed to love it. Hannah spit out the little tiny spoonful Randi gave her. Dan never got a taste. Benji last night said, putting on his standard Alexa Hente look, “The recipe has the potential to be really great with more salt and cayenne, more liquid, and a little thinner crust.” As for my opinion, I really liked it, but it definitely needs more salt and a bit of cayenne and a slightly thinner top crust (Looks like I’ve trained Benji to think like me!)
This will make 2 chicken pot pies:
2 large chicken breasts (1 split breast) (about 1 lb.) on bone is best and skin on- seasoned with salt and pepper (I brown on both sides in 1 tablespoon of oil in cast iron skillet, and then I put in 350 oven for about 20 min. more just till no longer pink.) Cut into bite sized pieces and set aside.
1 stick salted butter (1/2 cup or 4 oz.)
8 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional but very tasty)
1 medium onion chopped very, very fine (optional as some kids like my grandkids don’t like onions!)
2 2/3 cups of organic chicken broth
1 1/3 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves chopped
about 1 very large or 3 smallish to medium russet or idaho potatoes, cut into bite size pieces and boiled for about 5 min. till just cooked, then drained under cold water to stop cooking, and set aside
about 3/4 cup frozen organic corn
about 1 1/2 cups frozen peas and carrots
Directions: preheat oven to 375 degrees
Take out 2 unbaked pie shells (I used Wholly Wholesome Organic), prick bottoms with fork, and put in preheated oven- 375 degrees for about 10 min.
Take out 1 box Trader Joe’s frozen pie crusts you have previously defrosted in fridge or on counter.
In large saucepan, melt 1 stick butter. Add in onion, and saute over very low flame till totally translucent and very, very soft. Add flour, salt, pepper, and thyme, cayenne if desired and whisk till blended. Cook for a minute or so. Add in all broth, and milk and over low to medium flame, use wooden spoon till mixture starts to thicken. This will happen very quickly. Turn heat off. Add precooked chicken, the frozen corn, the frozen peas and carrots, and the precooked potatoes. Fold very gently.
Pour into 2 prebaked pie crusts.
Take one Trader Joe’s pie crust and make it into a ball of dough. Roll out on floured parchment paper till the correct thickness and size of a regular 9 inch pie crust. Drape over filling and crimp under bottom crust to seal well.
Make egg wash with 1 egg yolk and either 1 teaspoon of water, milk, or cream. Brush over top crust. Make slits in pie crust.
Repeat with 2nd pie crust.
Bake for about 35 min. to 45 min. till crusty is nicely browned. If you feel crust isn’t browning quickly enough, just raise the temperature to 400 degrees for a bit.
You can freeze your second pie by wrapping it in heavy duty tinfoil. I’d defrost it in fridge for a day, and if I didn’t have that type of time, I’d let it sit on the counter for a few hours, and then I’d bake it at 375 degrees till nicely browned. Depending on how frozen it is when you put it in the oven will determine how much time it needs to cook through.
I place the pie which is in an aluminum tin inside of a regular ceramic pie plate to bake it and to freeze the other one.