Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

"Michael had chicken pot pie for lunch. Actually let me rephrase that, Michael had an entire chicken pot pie for lunch- Let me be more specific. Michael ate an entire, family-sized chicken pot pie for lunch and then he promptly fell asleep so we're all trying to be very quiet so as to not wake him up before 5 pm. Which actually should be about...[lifts up wall clock and turns it to 4:50] ten minutes."
-Jim Halpert, "The Office"

Yes folks, in honor of cozying up to a warm, autumn dinner table, AND in honor of Michael Scott, let's make chicken pot pie! You're thinking, "What? NO WAY! Too hard, I'll just go buy the frozen personal sized Betty Crocker ones!"... I say, "no way, jose!"... let me help you, because it's REALLY not difficult! It's one of my favorite things to make actually, because it's so darn easy AND gorgeous and so so so delicious. So let's begin!

FOR THE CRUST YOU WILL NEED: (yes you're making the crust from scratch.. don't fear)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening (yes, I do mean fat. it makes for the flakiest crust)
  • 4-6 tablespoons cold water (depending on how well the dough is sticking together, you'll need more if it's still not gathering well, but DON'T OVER DO IT)


  • approx. 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil- we'll go little by little with this, no real exact amount
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or more to taste (I love pepper so I always end up using about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon, or 2 cubes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded, I prefer thick shredded
  • 2 cups mixed veggies, 1 can whole kernel corn & 1 can peas, plus approx. 1/2 cup sliced carrots

Ok so here we go.... heat your oven to 425 degrees. Let's make the crust. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening with a hand pastry blender or fork until it looks like crumbs. ('cut in' just means cutting into crumbs rather than stirring) Mix in the cold water just until the dough is moistened and you can gather the dough into a ball. Divide the dough in half, make them both into balls and refrigerate one of them in plastic wrap.

Flour a flat surface, countertop, cutting board, whatever.  Roll out the one half of dough with a rolling pin until it could cover the top of a 9 inch round pie plate or 8 inch square baking dish. (if your dough is starting to get a little sticky and falling apart, roll it out with a piece of parchment/ baking paper on top. That way you won't ruin the dough by adding too much extra flour or water to be able to roll it out) It should look like this: 
When the dough is rolled out, roll it back ONTO the rolling pin, like it's a sleeve for the pin. Like so:

Place the rolling pin with dough on top of one end of the UNGREASED dish and unroll. Then press the dough into the bottom of the dish and all the way up the sides. Either cut the excess dough, or leave it hanging over the edge and we'll form it later. Set this aside while we make the filling.

In a large saucepan, combine the olive oil and onion and stir on medium heat until the onion starts to get soft. Then add the flour, salt, pepper, chicken bouillon and half the water. Stir until the bouillon is well dissolved. Your mixture should be looking a bit like yellowish broth now. Add the remaining water and 1/2 cup milk, stirring until the mixture is thickened. (YUM.. this is when it gets smelling heavenly) 
When you can see that you have a thick, nice filling, add the chicken and veggies and stir. Don't worry about cooking the carrots long enough that they get soft, they'll soak in a lot of the juice when they go in the oven and they'll be perfect. It should look like this:

Take a big spoon and spoon the filling into the dough lined pie plate or baking dish. Don't be shy with it, if it looks like you've got a bit extra, that's ok, I recommend using it all because I like having a bit of it boiling over through the top crust cut designs.

Now take out the second half of dough from the fridge and do the exact same thing you did for the bottom dough. Roll it out, roll it up on the pin, and roll it out onto the top of the filling, and over the edges of the dish. Then, join together the excess bottom dough and top dough, fluting it or just pressing until it's a closed envelope, like so:

(no, those are obviously not my hands but James wasn't around to photograph me doing it)
ps- see how EASY fluting is? Just pinch dough around your pointer, then do it again and again all the way around- piece a cake!

Then take a knife and cut a pretty pattern either in the center or over the whole top crust, so that air can escape and so it's pretty... I also like to go back with a fork as well and add those 4 little dot patterns all over the top. Like so:

(this is after it'd been baked, sorry I didn't get a great pre-baked photo but now you can see the pattern)

After cutting your beautiful pattern, bake for 30-40 minutes, or until you can see a little bubbling in the cuts and the crust is starting to turn golden brown. *IF IT LOOKS LIKE YOUR EDGES ARE BURNING: pull it out and place a piece of foil just around the edges of the crust but not touching, to protect it from the heat and place back in oven to bake for another 5 minutes*

And there you have, a GORGEOUS home- made chicken pot pie... a VERY impressing, filling, and DELICIOUS fall meal. I promise, you will feel so accomplished and proud that you're providing a healthy, gourmet meal for your family, and that you did it ALL BY YOURSELF and ALL FROM SCRATCH. Few things feel more encouraging in my opinion, and who doesn't need a little encouragement today? :) 

After enjoying your gorgeous creation, maybe snuggle up to a cuppa coffee or tea and watch "The Office": Company Picnic episode. What a good night that'll be.
Happy cooking everyone! And take some photos and send them my way so I can post your prized pies! :) 
Love to all!