Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie and the Blizzard of 2013

This weekend in New England, we celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Blizzard of ’78 with the Blizzard of ’13! That’s like chasing a shot of tequila with a shot of tequila.  So, with more than adequate warning, I waited until the very last minute before wrangling my way through the market with every other Rhode Islander, grabbed two gallons of milk, bread flour, some lemons, a chicken and I beat feet out of there as fast as possible. If you’ve ever experienced the delight of struggling through a pre-blizzard bread aisle, you’ll understand my haste.

I’d been having rather pleasurable thoughts of the perfect, golden, roast chicken for a few days now and a snowbound weekend was the perfect venue. So I brined the succulent little thing with lemon and herbs, dried it overnight in the fridge (for crispy skin), wooed it with butter, garlic, lemon and Herbes de Provence, and slipped it into a sizzling hot cast-iron skillet before it even had time to sigh. If you’ve never brined a bird before, do yourself and everyone you love a favor and give it a go. Juicy, tender...again, succulent. Luscious, really, with the texture and moistness of rotisserie chicken. I was quite happy.

Day Two:  The streets are barely plowed, my car is under at least a foot of snow, and I don't even want to get dressed, never mind traipse out to the market. But it's Sunday, and being the good, churchgoing girl that I'm not, I would at least feel redeemed by putting a nice meal on the table at dinnertime. There's still chicken and I've got got carrots, potatoes, a freezer full of homemade chicken stock, and Lord knows, plenty of flour. I’m thinking chicken pot pie, because the only thing that warms the belly faster than that chaser of Patron is a nice, flaky chicken pot pie.

So I slice and par-cooked some carrots, dice some potatoes and onions, and sweat them (cook in a little fat, on low heat, covered until tender) in some olive oil and butter with a bit of Herbes de Provence. While that's cooking, I roll out my bottom crust and place it in the pie dish with about 1 inch of dough hanging over the rim. 

When the vegetables are just about tender, I sprinkle them with about 3 tablespoons of flour and cook for a few minutes before adding about 1.5 cups of hot chicken stock.  When it thickens, I add some of the leftover chicken, season with salt and pepper, and let the filling cool a bit before putting it into the pie crust (to prevent melting the butter and shortening in the crust).

Now it's time for the top crust.  I like to roll it out to the same size as I did the bottom crust.  Do yourself a favor and cut out the center vent hole (about an inch in diameter) before you put the top crust on. I forgot to do this and had to do it afterwards.  Brush the rim of the bottom crust with eggwash, place the top crust lovingly on top, press to seal, and run a sharp paring knife around the edge to trim off the extra dough. Save the dough to roll out into sweet shapes to decorate the pie, attaching them with eggwash, like I did.  Or you can eat most of the dough, like I also did. Once all leaves were on, I lightly brushed the entire pie with eggwash.
Into a 350 degree oven it went for about 40 minutes, or until the top was golden and I could hear the pie beckoning.  Remove it from the oven, take a picture and send it to all your friends.  And then walk away.  The most important thing to do is to leave it alone and not to cut into it for at least 20 minutes. This way, it will set and the filling won't just run everywhere when you slice into it.  To avoid this temptation, I took my kids sledding and when I got back, it was still quite warm.  So I ate half of it. 
Now, because I'm my biggest critic, these are a few things that I will probably do differently the next time I make chicken pot pie:

  1. I'll add more stock to the sauce. I didn't want it to be soupy, but I do like it a bit juicier. So go with 2 cups of chicken stock if you like it saucy.
  2. I'll cut the vent hole in the top crust before putting it on the pie. Trust me, it's easier and less messy.
  3. I think I will brush the crust with heavy cream next time, as I like the deeper color that the cream promotes on the crust. You still need to use eggwash for the leaves so they stick, though.

So that's pretty much it. Here's another picture of the crust because I really do like the way that came out. It's hard to find a good pie crust recipe that works for you, but this one was easy to make, easy to work with, and very flaky.

Double Pie Crust for Chicken Pot Pie

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

10 tablespoons shortening, chilled

2 egg yolks

3 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

1/2 – 3/4 cup ice cold water

1.  Combine flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds to mix. 
2.  Add 1/2 of the cold butter and 1/2 of the cold shortening to the flour mixture.  Pulse for about 1 minute.
3.  Add the rest butter and shortening, but cut in very briefly with the processor, leaving pea-sized chunks of butter.  Do not over-process.
4.  In a small bowl, mix egg yolks and vinegar together, add ice cold water.
5.  Put flour/shortening mix in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with about 6-8 tablespoons of the water mixture a little at a time, mixing gently with a fork.  You want it to hold together without being crumbly, but not wet.  Don't overmix.
6.  Divide dough into two balls, flatten into disks, wrap in plastic, and chill in refrigerator for a 30 minutes.
7.  Remove from refrigerator and roll out on lightly floured surface, about 1/8" thick.



  1. Wow, wow, wow... I love the pie crust, it is so sexy and appetizing! Yum! Ok, did you make the chicken stock or buy it?

  2. Also, those leaf shapes you decorated the pie with? Where did you find them?

  3. I made the can't open my freezer without a batch falling onto your foot! And the little cutters come from Williams-Sonoma.

  4. Beautiful! Imagine if your really bored making individuals in the little Staubs! Yummy! Love the old fashioned pie dough recipe with the vinegar! Need some good leaf lard instead of shortening:) Your amazing...

    1. Thank you! Oh, the Staubs would be beautiful! I've never tried it with lard...but I have some in my freezer (what DON'T I have in my freezer, it seems?).

  5. Thanks for sharing the recipes - we'll try this out sometime soon. I love the added touch of the decorations. We do that on our Christmas French meat pies too. Chicken pot pie is a great idea for apre-sledding. Glad to see you either didn't lose power for 48hrs or you have a reliable wood fired stove!

    1. Thanks! We didn't lose power, thank God. I love French meat pie! Feel free to share the recipe!!!

  6. Looks fantastic!!

  7. Maria that looks delicious and so pretty! You make everything look so easy! I is. I will try this, but making my own crust is intimidating! BTW, it Lisa, I can't figure out how to add a profile! Thanks for sharing!