Chicken Pot Pie-Better Than Frozen? Yes!

As long as I can remember, chicken pot pie has been one of my favorite meals. When I was a kid, my mom’s homemade chicken pot pie with a biscuity-type topping was one of my favorite things that she made. I also really, really loved the frozen Swanson chicken pot pies that had about 1 million calories apiece. When I was in college, one of my roommate sowed the seed for this pie by telling me about the pot pie that she liked to make with a refrigerated pie crust, canned cream of chicken soup, canned chicken, and Veg-all. When you consider the way I cook these days, that’s definitely not a gourmet meal….but to someone who generally lived off of Pasta-roni, Ramen, cereal, and chicken fingers from the University Center, it was definitely a cut above.

Fast-forward 13 years…my chicken pot pie has been through a long evolution. Slowly, I started adding more fresh ingredients….first, shredded chicken from the fridge or freezer….next, fresh veggies….then, get rid of the canned cream of chicken, using a roux to make my own base….finally, the last step….a pie crust….a homemade crust. The crust was definitely the hardest part, hence the longest holdout. I posted my favorite cream cheese pie crust recipe a couple of weeks ago. Make the crust and go from there.

Pie crust, ready for the fridge!

What I put in my pot pie generally depends on what I have.  I always have potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions, so my pot pie always includes those four things, but if I have mushrooms, I’ll include those as well.  There’s usually some sort of shredded roast chicken in my freezer, and usually chicken pot pie is a vehicle to use some of that up.  Turkey would work well here too.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then start by washing and cutting up (sometimes I peel, sometimes I don’t) one medium or two small potatoes and a carrot or two.  Set them on the stovetop to boil.

Carrots and potatoes should be cut into pieces of roughly equal size to help them cook evenly!

Set a couple of tablespoons of butter over medium heat and cut up small onion and a couple of ribs of celery. Cook the onions and celery in the butter until they are soft and translucent. If you have mushrooms, clean them, slice them, and add them about halfway through the cook time for the onions and celery, and cook until soft. Once they are completely cooked, add a splash of olive oil or a little more butter if the veggies are starting to look dry, and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of flour (do a little at a time; I never measure).

Chop the onions and celery up finely...

Okay, I used a lot of butter for this one. This looks like half a stick? Wow. I was feeling indulgent that day!

Sprinkle the flour evenly over the onions and celery (and mushrooms, if you're using them).

Cook until slightly brown (you want to cook the “raw” flavor off of the flour, but you don’t want to burn or scorch it!), then pour in half a cup of white wine* and whisk until thickened. Add about a cup of chicken stock slowly, whisking till thick and smooth. If the mixture seems too thin, add a little more flour while whisking to keep the mixture smooth.

Once the wine and chicken stock have been added in, let it bubble till it thickens up.  You can add some milk or cream, too!

Salt and pepper to taste, then add in about a cup or so of shredded chicken and the drained potatoes and carrots. If you need more liquid, you can add a little bit of milk (and more flour if needed).

Chicken....

...vegetables....

Stir it carefully!

Drape the first part of your pie crust over the pie pan and press into the pan.  Pour the filling into the pan and lay the second crust over, pressing the edges together.  Cut several slits in the crust to vent and bake for 25 minutes.  If you notice that your crust is getting too brown, you can lay some aluminum foil around the edges or over the top.  After you remove the pie from the oven, let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes to set up a little.  I’ll warn you, it may run out a little.  Fresh chicken pot pie is definitely justification for a pie gate!  The second day it will be much easier to cut.

Crust, step one!

Add the filling....

Top with second crust.

I use kitchen shears to cut off the excess crust.

I worked really hard to make the edges look as pretty as possible. I've got a lot of work to do if I want to be the next Martha!

Beautiful, perfect, and delicious!

The second day....it's even better!

*Now, let me talk to you about the wine.  I’ve told you before, I’m pretty much a teetotaller.  I don’t like the taste of alcohol, especially not wine.  When it comes to cooking, though, I pour freely.  Of course you can leave the wine out of this filling, but I wouldn’t do it if I were you.  The flavor of the wine in this chicken pot pie is not to be believed.  The first time that I added it, Philip immediately noticed the difference in the flavor.  It adds so much!  I buy wine in the tiny little bottles.  They’re great!

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you probably know that I don't care for the taste of wine for drinking....but I SURE love it for cooking!

Chicken pot pie is pretty much the perfect food for cold weather, and it’s a great way to use up leftovers!  Make it ASAP!

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