Chicken pot pie is one of the few dishes that gets a universal cheer in our house. Flaky, buttery, layers of pastry with creamy chicken in a bubbling sauce, with a just hint of thyme underneath. It is no wonder that everyone in my family loves it.
That said, I don’t make it that often and if you have ever made puff pastry from scratch, you’ll know why. If you do make puff pastry from scratch, you will know it is quite an effort: all the folding and putting back in the fridge it requires far too much planning for a weekday meal.
Thankfully, you can find puff pastry in the frozen section at most grocery stores, and your cooking skills are not called into question for using it. Taking a few shortcuts is okay, really.
There are three main brands of puff pastry: Dufour (available at Whole Foods and Fairway) and Trader Joe’s make all-butter pastry, while Pepperidge Farm’s version contains vegetable shortening. I prefer the flavor of all-butter pastry. Both options taste best hot out of the oven, but all-butter versions keep their fresh flavor longer than those with shortening.
Chicken Pot Pie Recipe – serves 4
- 2 large boneless chicken breasts
- 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry – follow direction on packet for defrosting – most require about 2 hours to defrost
- 1 leek washed and chopped into ¼ “ pieces
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- A handful of button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of plain flour
- A glug of olive oil
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- A glug of white wine (optional)
- ¼ cup half-and-half milk or heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 1 whole egg mixed with about 2 tablespoons of water
Preheat the oven to 350°F and while you’re doing that, brush olive oil over the chicken breasts and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake them for 35-40 minutes until they are cooked through (juices should come out clear if you pierce them with a sharp knife.) Remove them from the oven and let them cool enough so you handle them and then chop into small pieces.
Heat the butter in a large frying pan, add the onions, leeks and carrots and let fry until they soften a bit which should take about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another few minutes. Add the chicken and stir. Sprinkle the flour over and stir it in. Once everything is coated with the flour, gradually stir in the stock and wine (if you are using it) and keep stirring until it thickens. Then add the turmeric, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour in the half-and-half and let it bubble: if it seems too thick add a little more stock until it is the consistency you like.
Increase the temperature of the oven to the temperature given on the puff pastry packet cooking instructions – usually 400°F.
Cut out the puff pastry lids in the size you want. I made 4 individual ones on 4” ramekins or you could make one large one in a 2-quart baking dish.
Divide the chicken mixture between the dishes. Cover with the puff pastry. Brush the top or each pie with the egg and water mixture. I forgot this step but if you want a nice glossy sheen to your puff pastry this is the way to do it.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until the puff pastry is golden and cooked through. The individual ramekins will take less time than one big dish so keep an eye on it.
Now what shall I do with those pastry scraps?
Now before you clean up….don’t throw those puff pastry scraps out. Sprinkle with some grated cheese –Parmesan, cheddar, add a few seeds – sesame or poppy seeds, maybe a sprinkle of sea salt or paprika. Cut or just twist into strips. Bake for 10-12 minutes and voilà cheese straws to enjoy with a drink before dinner.