pie month! Now, I'm not one to turn away sugar, but this week I'm in the mood to swing things around a little and take a look at the savory side of life. In my world, the queen of savory pies is Chicken Pot Pie.
Like all pies, chicken pot pie is one of those things that has an odd, mistaken reputation for being easy. It's not, especially if you start by cooking the chicken and making stock. I keep it simple by using a store-bought stock and rotisserie chicken (or leftover turkey.) Be careful of too many shortcuts, however, or you'll end up with the old classic of frozen vegetable mixed in with a tin of cream of chicken soup and toped with readymade biscuits. Shudder! One last note: Chicken Pot Pie is very forgivable. Don't have celery? Skip it. Want to add potatoes? Go right ahead! It's even OK to use frozen puff pastry if making pie dough is what's keeping you away. This is one of those wonderful dishes you can play with based on what's in your refrigerator or freezer. Chicken Pot Pie serves two, with leftovers 1/2 recipe basic pie crust, minus the optional sugar 4T butter 2 c washed leeks, sliced 1/4 inch thick 1 1/2 cups carrot coins (or flowers!) 1/2 tsp salt 2 c sliced mushrooms 1 tsp dried thyme (or 2 tsp fresh) 1/4 cup flour 1 cup chicken stock, low or no salt 1 cup milk 1/4 cup dry sherry 1 T soy sauce 2 cup shredded chicken meat 1/2 cup frozen peas 1 T minced fresh parsley more salt and pepper to taste Preheat oven to 400. Make the pastry dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and set it in the refrigerator to rest. Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the leeks, carrots and 1/2 tsp of salt and saute over medium heat for about ten minutes or until the leeks have softened. Add the mushrooms and thyme and continue cooking. After about five minutes, add the flour and stir gently for a few minutes to cook the flour. Add the stock and milk and bring to a gentle simmer. When it just begins to thicken, add the sherry, soy sauce (secret ingredient!) and the chicken. Maintain a simmer until it thickens further. Don't let it get too thick! Turn off the heat, and add the peas and the parsley. Pour into a 4-cup casserole dish and set aside.
Remove the plastic wrap from the pastry dough and roll it out on a well floured surface in a rough shape slightly larger than your casserole dish. Drape over the casserole and trim to fit. With a sharp knife, cut a few slits in the dough to vent the steam. Optional: with the tines of a fork dipped in flour, press down on the edges of the pastry dough to seal. If there is any extra dough, cut out shapes for decoration. Brush thr top with an egg wash consisting of one egg beaten with 1 T of water. Place casserole on a baking sheet and slide into the oven. Make for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Remove and let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Inspiration: