Monday, May 4, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust

Chicken pot pie is a classic comfort food that I love, love, love, but rarely eat because it's usually super rich and oftentimes on the salty side. So, I came up with this easy-to-make version using rotisserie chicken, milk (instead of cream), and low sodium chicken broth to control the salt levels. I also used puff pastry instead of a traditional pie crust for the topping. I've also included a version using poached chicken. Don't get me wrong - this is not exactly a low-calorie diet dish, but the end result is a pot pie with a light-tasting sauce and crust that won't sit like a cement block in your stomach. And, most importantly, it tastes pretty damned good!

Makes about 8 individual 5" pies

4 cups (about 2 lbs.) rotisserie chicken meat, meat cut into 1" chunks
OR: 5 lb. whole chicken, poached with meat removed & cut into 1" chunks

1.1 lbs. package of frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), defrosted in the refrigerator

4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium red or yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. sliced button mushrooms
3-4 tbsp. dry sherry or white wine
3 ribs celery, sliced
4-5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced/chopped
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt 
1 tbsp. fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup green peas

10 tbsp. flour
4 cups (32 oz.) low sodium chicken broth
1 cup milk

1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. 

2. Heat the butter in a large saute pan or skillet over medium high heat; add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (3-5 minutes). Add the minced garlic and sliced mushrooms, cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have softened and just started to brown (do not over brown). 

3. Add the dry sherry or white wine and cook for about 30 seconds to deglaze. 

4. Add the sliced celery and carrots. Cover and stir occasionally for about 3-5 minutes or until the veggies have softened slightly. Stir in the nutmeg, black pepper, poultry seasoning, salt, thyme and parsley. 

5. Add the flour and stir well to combine with the veggies. Cook, stirring constantly (a wooden spoon works great for this step) for about 30 seconds to 1 minute to cook out the raw flavor of the flour. 

6. Add the chicken broth and milk and bring to a boil. Stir in the peas and shredded chicken and continue stirring until mixture has thickened. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste for seasonings and add more pepper and/or salt if needed. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

7. Ladle the filling into individual 5" pie tins (disposable aluminum ones with lids in 6-packs are readily available in most supermarkets). This recipe will make about 8 pies.

8. Take the puff pastry out of the frig and carefully unwrap and unroll each sheet. Cut each sheet into 4 square pieces. Top each pie with one square of puff pastry, stretching and shaping the dough to fit around the edges. Alternatively, you can cut the puff pastry into strips and place them about 1/4" apart over the filling (see below illustration).

9. Brush the tops of the puff pastry with the egg wash. 

10. Bake the pies on a foil-lined baking sheet at 350F for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling bubbly.

NOTE: The baked pies reheat well in the oven (just cover loosely with foil and bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes or until hot). You can also freeze the unbaked pies in the freezer - just cover each one tightly with plastic wrap and foil and place in a Ziploc-type freezer bag. 

Green peas, chopped onion, minced garlic, celery, mushrooms and carrot.  

Rotisserie chicken meat. Cut the meat into cubes.

Flour, salt, thyme, white wine, poultry seasoning, pepper, nutmeg, milk, and chicken stock.  

Saute the onion in butter, then add the minced garlic.  

Add sliced mushrooms. 

Cover and cook about 5 minutes until the mushrooms have softened and just started to brown.  

Add white wine and cook about 30 seconds.  

 Add celery and carrots. 

Cover and cook 3-5 minutes until veggies are slightly softened.  

Stir in seasonings.  

Add flour and stir well about 30 seconds to 1 minute to cook out the raw flavor of the flour.  

Add the chicken stock.  

Add milk and bring to a boil.   

Add the peas and chopped chicken. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Puff pastry sheets (defrosted in the frig).

Fill the individual pie plates with filling.
 Place a square of puff pastry over the filling and crimp the edges.

Brush the tops of the pastry with beaten egg.

These pies are covered with puff pastry strips. 

 Place the pies on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350F or until crust is golden brown.

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