Friday, November 15, 2013

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is a HUGE comfort food for me - it reminds me of my childhood, when it was a big treat to have one of those frozen pot pies for of my favorite dinners.  I wanted to make a version that my family would love and would be healthier for all of us.  Success!  My kids loved this "chicken soup" (gotta call it something that they know, otherwise I take the risk of them not wanted to try it).  And it is perfect for that cold winter day!

This version is not only healthier because it is homemade, it contains more veggies and all-white meat chicken breast.  I finished it off with a crust made of frozen puff-pastry, a real treat.  So if you want to cute more calories, then I would top it off with homemade biscuits instead (or bake your biscuits while you make the pot pie filling and just pour the filling on top of the biscuits).  Either way, this recipe is so much better for your family than the frozen varieties.  

I hope you try this and make it your own - add your favorite veggies, this recipe is just a skeleton.  Enjoy!

Happy Cooking!

Easy Chicken Pot Pie
my recipe was inspired by

For poaching the chicken and simultaneously creating homemade broth:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts  (these breasts were HUGE, so you may need 3 if they are on the small side)
2 stalks of celery, each cut in half or thirds
1 medium onion, cut in quarters
1-2 sprigs of fresh oregano
1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
enough water to come to side of chicken
salt and pepper to taste

For the pot pie filling:
2 T olive oil
3 carrots, sliced
3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 large onion, diced
any other veggies you love (such as frozen peas, green beans, potatoes, greens)
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups of chopped or shredded chicken (from the recipe above)
2 T butter
2 T flour
3-4 cups of chicken broth (the liquid from recipe above - don't waste anything)
more salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray or oil for greasing edges of pan
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry (defrosted - my package said to allow it to rest at room temperature for about 40 minutes before handling)

First we need to poach our chicken breasts.  In a large pan, (use an oven safe pan if you have one - it will safe you some cleaning later), place the quartered onion and roughly cut celery.  Place the chicken breasts on top.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the water, enough to come to the side of the chicken.  Then add the sprigs of fresh herbs, cover, and turn the heat to medium.  Allow the water to come to a slow boil and cook covered for 20-30 minutes or until cooked all the way through (this will depend on the size of your breasts.  Mine were a little frozen so they took 40 min).
Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to cool enough to handle, and shred or cut in bite size pieces. 

Do not waste the poaching liquid - that is the broth to make our gravy.  Just put a colander over a bowl, and strain the liquid.  You can discard the cooked onion, celery, herbs, and set the broth aside for later.
Cut your veggies into any bite size piece of your choosing.  Some people prefer chopping them, but I prefer a bigger noticeable chunk. 
In the same large pot as you used before, heat 2 T of olive oil over medium high heat.  Add your vegetables and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until tender, about 7-10 minutes.  Remove from the pan and return the pan to the heat.
At this point, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.   Now to the gravy - continuing with your pot over medium-high heat, add the butter and allow it to melt.  Add the flour and mix with a whisk until well combined and flour begins to turn a nice golden brown color.  You are making a roux for the gravy and cooking out that flour taste.

Now slowly add the homemade broth, 1 cup at a time, bringing to a boil before you add more.  You want to continue to stir this and allow the mixture to thicken to your liking.  Taste your gravy at this point and add more salt and pepper to taste.
Once the gravy has thickened to your liking, you can remove the pan from the heat and add back in your veggies and chicken.  Mix to combine.

At this point you can transfer your oven-safe pot directly to the oven, or pour your pot pie filling into an oven safe dish.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  This allows the flavors to meld.

At this point, I transferred the pot pie filling to another oven safe dish - my square baking dish.  The puff pastry dough is in the shape of a square, so this meant that I could avoid having to roll it out into another shape.  Save yourself that step too by using a square dish.  Why transfer now?  So that the dish itself is cold and its easy for me to press the puff pastry dough onto the dish.  This is why I suggest using an oven safe pot until now (less dishes to wash in the long run, if you are as concerned about these kinds of things as I am - I hate doing dishes).

So press the puff pastry dough onto the greased edges of a baking dish (GREASED EDGES so that it removes easily after baking) and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes at 400, or until golden brown. 
Remove from the oven and allow the pot pie to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing into it.

Serve with your favorite green salad on the side and enjoy!  A perfect slice of comfort!!!

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