Saturday, January 31, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie ~ with a Pre-Made Pie Crust

This is a classic winter dish and you can get them fresh or frozen and ready for baking at many local grocery stores. They are particularly good on a cold winter afternoon and combined with a glass of white wine, make for a complete meal. But the store-bought fresh variety are sometimes very large and many times not so good, mostly due to the soggy bottom crust.

Julian's (Crispy Crust) Chicken Pot Pie
This problem is solved in the small frozen variety through the miracles of industrial food production (don't ask). It also helps that they have a dark foil lined pie plate. But if you want to avoid the industrial frozen variety, then make your own! It's really easy and this fresh version will be much more flavorful than anything you can buy at the store.

Room Temperature Pie Crusts, with Egg Wash
I solve the problem of the soggy bottom crust, as I do with some of my dessert pies, by pre-baking the crust and varnishing it with egg wash to help seal it from the wet contents. You can skip this step if you don't mind a soggy crust or you can eliminate the bottom crust as some shops do. I like both a top and bottom crust so I always make it using this method. It does add a few extra steps, but I think you'll agree it's worth the little extra effort.

Crust with parchment paper and pie weights ready for first baking.
Baked once, weights removed, painted and ready to bake again.

This recipe can easily be modified to accommodate turkey or ham, which I often do right after Thanksgiving and Christmas. I use fresh green beans so they have a little crunch when you eat them. You can substitute canned green beans if you prefer them soft.

Carrots, Green Beans, Celery

1 box of refrigerated pie crusts
     ~ or your own previously made crust
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk

1/3 cup butter
Pillsbury Ready Crust
1 small chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 medium sliced carrot
1 medium chopped celery
1/3 cup flour
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream (or milk)
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup green beans, cut bite sized (fresh or canned)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Let pie crusts (two pieces, one for top and one for bottom) come to room temperature by sitting on counter for 30 minutes. Place a baking tray on the oven rack, in the lowest position of your oven. Heat oven to 425°F.

Line a glass 9-inch standard (not deep dish) pie plate with the bottom crust. Pierce it in several places with a fork. Line with parchment paper and add pie weights or beans and bake 8 minutes sitting on the hot baking tray. Remove from oven and let cool briefly then remove the pie weights and parchment. Mix together the egg and milk, and paint the crust. Wrap the edge with foil to prevent browning. Reserve remaining egg wash.  Return to oven for 5 more minutes to continue baking. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350F degrees.

In large saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat. Add onion, salt and pepper; cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add carrots and celery and cook 5-8 minutes more just until fork tender. Stir in flour, until well blended. Slowly stir in broth and cream/milk. Cook and stir until bubbly and thickened.

Chop or shred your poached chicken breast or use leftovers from a roasted chicken. Canned chicken also works if necessary.

Filled and ready for top crust.
Stir in chicken, green beans and poultry seasoning. Taste and add salt/pepper as you prefer. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken mixture into crust-lined pie pan. Set any remaining sauce aside. Top with second crust; Crimp the edge with fork tines then cut slits in several places in top crust to vent. Paint the top crust with the remaining egg wash. Discard excess egg wash.

Bake 45 minutes in 350F degree oven. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil if necessary to prevent excessive browning. Cover the entire crust if becoming too brown. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes before serving. (Pass any extra sauce if needed, although I usually only use it for left overs rewarmed.)

Julian's Chicken Pot Pie, inside.

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