Chicken Pot Pie with Top Crust
Not for Beginners or People in a Hurry
Okay, kids, this is the real deal. Real chicken, homemade pie crust, all of it. If you don't have a mastery of basic kitchen skills, like cutting together flour and butter, or de-boning a chicken, or peeling potatoes, I suggest you skip this one. Furthermore, I don't exactly *measure* things when I cook, so all amounts are approximate except on the crust, and you don't want to fudge that.
I can make this up in about an hour and a half, including cook time, but the first time I think it took me three. It makes a horrific mess and it ain't cheap. But boy oh boy, when you want comfort food, this is it. Even people who say they don't like chicken pot pie will eat this, because I left out the big chunks of onion and celery.
PLEASE NOTE: This is a pretty big recipe; it fills a sheet-cake sized pan or two deep-dish pie pans. If you use the sheet-cake pan you'll have some crust left over.
Ready? Okay, here we go....
- orange juice
- can of peas
- chicken bouillion
- onion or onion flakes
- black pepper
- other spices that are friendly with chicken, as desired
- small can Campbell's condensed cream of chicken soup
start the chicken stock
|2 lg or 3 med ||chicken breasts OR 3 leg/thigh quarters or some combination thereof. Boneless chicken breasts are obviously less trouble, but you get better flavor by boiling parts with bones.|
| 1/4 cup || orange juice|
| 2 Tbs || onion flakes or about 1/4 cup diced onion|
| 1/2 to 1 tsp EACH ||sage, black pepper, parsley, according to taste (sage MAKES this dish, in my opinion)|
| heavy dose of || chicken bouillion (I like Wyler's bouillion beads, but their "Shakers" powder with herbs is good, too.|
- Put chicken, orange juice and seasonings in a big deep skillet or stock pot with about 2 cups water. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through.
in the meantime, peel and chop small:
| 2-3 (about 3/4 cup) || carrots|
| 1 to 1 1/2 cups || potatoes. Small red starchy ones are best; waxy potatoes, like yellows and golds, don't work well for this. Remember, the more potatoes you use, the thicker your sauce will be. Potatoes should be about one-fourth to one-third total solids in your soup-filling.|
prepare chicken, season sauce
- When the chicken is cooked through, remove it to a plate or cutting board. If your chicken was boiled with bones, I highly recommend you strain at this point.
- Add potatoes and carrots to broth and return to simmer. When chicken is cool enough to handle, strip from bones if necessary and cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Season soup-base with more black pepper, sage, parsley, onion, and/or if you like, thyme, rosemary or basil... whatever you like with chicken.
- Let the stock simmer down until you've got about 2 cups of liquid.
- Add a small can of Campbell's condensed cream of chicken soup. (Okay, I lied, this is the one tiny short-cut I use in this recipe. I have also made this with a flour-broth paste to thicken, and then whisked in milk and egg yolks for richness, but overall I was better pleased with the flavor and consistency of the condensed-soup version. You may find it too salty for your taste, in which case you can try cutting back the chicken bouillion, or use the low-salt version of Campbell's, or go with the flour-and-egg-yolk method.)
- Leave the broth/chicken/veggies mixture to cook down, and make your crust.
make the crust
| 1 3/4 cups || flour|
| 1 tsp || salt|
| 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) || COLD butter or margarine|
| 1/3 cup || ICE water|
- Combine flour, salt and butter with a pastry cutter, fork, or your fingers until it makes little crumbly bits, about the size of peas. Don't let the butter get too warm or it won't do right. The mixture will be lumpy, kind of like Play-Doh that's starting to dry out. When it's combined, add the ice water a bit at a time, working dough with your fingers until it wads and holds together. Add only enough water to make it all hold together smooth. It will be stiff and about the consistency of fresh Play-Doh (quel coincidence, n'est-ce pas?). Set aside crust dough in bowl; put in fridge if you won't use it right away.
assemble the pie
- Check your soup-filling. It should be semi-thickened by now and bubbly. Don't let it scorch on the bottom. Don't worry if it seems a bit thin or the potatoes aren't cooked, the oven will fix that. Taste and correct seasonings: remember some of the spices will get richer in the oven.
- Add one small can of LeSeur baby peas into the soup-filling.
- Heat your oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out your dough, into one big rectangular crust or two medium round crusts, depending on what pans you're using. Don't do this until the soup is thickened and you're ready to bake!
- Ladle or dump the soup-filling into the pan(s). Immediately slap the crusts on top. Seal edges as much as possible. Pierce center in a few places.
- Pop in oven and bake 35-40 minutes or until tops are golden-brown. The sauce will bubble up a lot, so you may want a drip pan underneath.
- Remove from oven and ladle into chicken nirvana.
- Nap. Let somebody else clean up.
Serves four, or six, or two if they're greedy and won't share. It happens.