Pot Pie #2 – with crust. Hot from the oven!
As you know, last month we started the Great Pot Pie Debate: Crust, Biscuits, or Puff Pastry.
To make this discussion more scientific, I figured we owed it to ourselves to carefully weigh, and TASTE, each option. My friend Paul dubbed this the Pot Pie Death Match.
We started with traditional Chicken Pot Pie filling with biscuit topping…
but the crust contingent (Cody) quickly started clamoring (pestering me) for Pot Pies with Crust.
Rather than make the exact same thing, I decided to switch up the filling to include tons of spring green vegetables.
The result? Incredibly good. Now we have several pot pie options from which to choose.
For you crust makers, here’s what you need:
Unsalted Butter, Flour, Salt, and Ice Water.
I’ll put a bunch of links at the bottom for all of the various pot pie combinations.
Crust is super easy to make if you have a food processor. If you don’t have one of these handy gadgets, you can still make great crust with a hand held pastry blender. Trust me, grandmas around the world have been making crust without a food processor for hundreds of years.
Note: You can also use pre-made crust from the store. Look for it in the frozen food section in a box, NOT a pie pan. You can roll it out into whatever shape you need.
If you do have a food processor, haul it out and fill the bowl with 1 1/4 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Give it a quick whirl to combine the dry ingredients.
Cut a COLD stick of UNSALTED butter into cubes. If all you have is salted butter, just leave out the extra salt in the step above.
Put the butter in with the flour and pulse the food processor a few times (maybe 8 or 10) until you have a crumbly mixture with a few pieces of butter about the size of small peas.
Add 4 Tablespoons of ice water to the flour mixture and pulse to combine. It is very important to use both cold butter and ice water. The trick to flaky crust is that the cold butter bits explode during baking.
After pulsing in the water, you should have a crumbly topping, NOT a ball of dough. Take out a little bit and squeeze it in your hand. If it holds together, you’re good to go even though the rest is still very crumbly. If it still falls apart, add 1/2 to 1 more Tablespoon of water, pluse, and try the squeeze technique again.
It is important to NOT overwork the dough. As long as it holds together when you squeeze it, it will roll into a crust even though it is still all just a pile of crumbs at this point.
Dump the crumbles out onto a piece of parchment paper and use your hands to quickly gather it together, pressing it into a disc.
Just gather up any crumbs and add them to the little disc of dough. Sorry there is no picture, but this step definitely takes 2 hands.
Wrap the dough disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes to an hour. Longer is okay too. Just be sure if you don’t have a full hour that the dough is very cold.
On to the pot pie filling! Fill you counter with all things green, crunchy, and good. The inspiration for this filling was actually the Spring Vegetable Risotto I made last year.
Here’s what you need:
Fennel Bulb, Leeks, Asparagus, Zucchini, Frozen Peas, Garlic, Parsley, Tarragon,Chicken Breast (cooked), Butter, Chicken Broth, White Wine, Whole Milk, Salt & Pepper.
I’m using 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I baked at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Just drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt & pepper before baking. I usually do this with bone in chicken breasts (cook them a little longer, maybe 40 minutes) as they stay a little more moist and have a little more flavor. You could also use rotisserie chicken already cooked from the store.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
For the vegetables, chop the root end and the dark green parts off of two leeks. Cut the leeks in half and rinse them thoroughly under running water, separating the layers as you rinse, to remove any dirt and grit.
Fennel is that big hairy looking green bulb thing and one of my favorite vegetables. Don’t let people tell you it tastes like licorice because it does not. Or maybe it does but only a tiny little bit. I hate licorice with a passion and I LOVE fennel.
Cut the top stalky parts with the green fronds off. You can save those for salad or stock, if you’re feeling industrious. The little green fronds also make a nice garnish.
Cut the bulb in half and using your knife, cut the wedge of the core out of the middle of the bulb. My fennel bulb was huge so I’m using only half – about 1 1/2 cups when chopped.
Chop the leeks, fennel, and 2 zucchini into pieces all about the same small size.
In a large pot, melt 1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) of butter over medium high heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute for about 5 minutes until starting to get tender but not browned.
While the leeks and fennel are cooking, chop up 2-3 cloves of garlic.
After 5 minutes, add the garlic and zucchini to the pan and saute for 5 minutes more — once again until tender but not browned.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup flour over the vegetables in the pot and stir it in to make a roux or paste to thicken the pot pie filling.
Pour in 3/4 cup of dry white wine and stir to combine.
Turn the heat down to medium low and add 1 1/2 cups of whole milk
and 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth. Stir thoroughly to incorporate the flour and remove any lumps.
Bring the sauce up to a low simmer so that it can thicken.
Meanwhile, cut the cooked chicken breast into bite sized cubes. You’ll need about 4 cups of chicken.
Season the sauce with salt & pepper. Add the chicken cubes and stir them into the sauce to reheat.
Time for even more green veggies. Rinse some asparagus (10 or 12 spears) and snap off the tough bottom part of each stem. Cut the tender parts into small pieces.
Herbs! Finely chop 1/2 cup of fresh parsley. Strip the leaves off of some fresh tarragon – about 2 Tablespoons – and finely chop. Fresh tarragon is the secret ingredient to these green pot pies. Tarragon and chicken just seem to go together. You can find fresh tarragon in your grocery store herb section, grow your own in a pot, or in a pinch substitute 1 teaspoon of dried tarragon.
Add the asparagus, herbs, and 1 cup of frozen peas. Turn the heat OFF and stir to combine.
Take the crust dough out of the refrigerator about 5 minutes before you want to roll it out. Spread flour on a mat or work surface and roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness.
As you can see, my dough is a little rough looking around the edges. I didn’t let the dough sit for 5 minutes before rolling and it was a crazy mess. Fortunately, I was using individual pot pie dishes so I didn’t need a complete round piece of dough.
If this happens to you, and the dough does not want to cooperate, don’t panic. Simply gather the dough back up into a ball, and try again. I actually re-rolled 2 of my little crusts and they were even better the second time around.
I am using individual pot pie bowls (the same bowls I use for French Onion Soup. ) They’re nice and deep so they hold a lot of the pot pie filling. You can also make this pot pie in a deep dish pie pan or even a regular 2 quart casserole dish. Lay whatever dish you are using on top of the dough and cut around the dish leaving about 1/2 inch extra around the edge.
Fill your bowls, pie pan, or casserole with the pot pie filling. Leave at least 1/2 inch (or more) of room at the top to keep the pot pies from overflowing in the oven. Even after you do this, the pot pies will still probably bubble over so be sure to put your bowls, pie pan, or casserole on a sheet pan.
Place a crust over the top of each bowl. You can crimp the edges…
OR use a fork to crimp the edge of the pie dough on to the top of the dish. This looks more authentic to me, is EASIER, and also made the best seal on the pot pies. I recommend the fork method over the crimping method.
Use a small, sharp knife to cut a few slits into the top of each pie for the steam to escape.
Bake the pot pies for 30 minutes (possibly longer for 1 bigger pie dish) until the tops are golden brown and the filling is thick and bubbly.
These pot pies made me very happy.
Wait as long as you can (they’re very hot) and then dig in!
I realize that there are a gazillion steps to this recipe. It’s a lot to take in. However, there are no special, sneaky culinary techniques here. Just follow the steps and you can have awesome pot pies on your own dinner table.
Feel free to substitute the more traditional pot pie filling from the biscuit recipe if that’s more to your liking. Or make up your own filling using the vegetables that you like the best.
If you want a vegetarian option, I’d suggest making the green veggie filling here and add mushrooms and diced potatoes. Obviously you’d need to swap out the chicken broth for veggie broth.
Pot Pie #2. Now, just please don’t ask me to pick a favorite!
Here is the recipe: I’ve tried to give you all possible combinations and links.
Chicken Pot Pie with Spring Vegetables (and Crust) this one has the crust recipe
Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuits for the more traditional pot pie filling