Chicken Pot Pie for Perfectionists

I initially made this way back in November for a group of friends. I didn’t plan on sharing it here because I didn’t have time to take pictures, and also because I thought the recipe was a little long and complex. Luckily, this recipe actually makes two pies. One to eat now, one for the freezer. So five months later (I wanted to eat it sooner, but kept saving it for some occasion, and then I really wanted chicken pot pie and figured that was occasion enough) I popped this baby into the oven. And I realized that I couldn’t not share the recipe.

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It took me forever to remember where I got the recipe from in the first place. I checked all of my go-to websites and didn’t think they were quite right and was kind of stumped. And then I remembered that even though this is 2014, physical cookbooks exist. In this case, Dinner Chez Moi by Laura Calder exists. And I don’t know how on earth I forgot about it. This book is full of elegant (but easy) recipes that will inspire you to throw a dinner party, and remind you that it doesn’t have to be complicated. From Clam Chowder to Banana Cake with Coffee Icing to Beet and Orange Salad with Arugula and Pistachios, there are dozens of recipes that are right up my alley. It’s safe to say I need to bring this one out more often.

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I wouldn’t usually call myself a perfectionist, but in the kitchen my standards get very high – not necessarily for all food, but for the food that I cook. I am definitely, as they say, my own worst critic. And this pot pie holds true to its title. It leaves the harshest critic with literally nothing to complain about. I can’t think of one thing that could possibly make it more delicious. I could use every adjective that I know to describe how perfect this pot pie is, but I couldn’t do it justice. You must make this. I do not go around making claims like this for no reason, people.

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The only problem with a food this delicious is that it means that you will forever be comparing others to it. I honestly don’t think I will ever be satisfied with another pot pie again. I made my own pie crust, which I definitely recommend, but I kind of cheated and used a pre-roasted chicken instead of roasting my own, and I think I may have skipped a step with the stock… It’s funny, because I think if I was making this now I would probably just take the extra steps. I’ve come a long way in 6 months! Try not to be daunted by the ingredient list. It’s not supposed to be a quick dish. Take a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen for this one. You can substitute different things if you need to, but remember, this pie is supposed to be for perfectionists 😉

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Chicken Pot Pie for Perfectionists:

Makes 2 Pies 

Adapted from Dinner Chez Moi by Laura Calder 

For the Chicken: 

1 whole Chicken

Salt & Pepper

1 – 2 tbsp Butter, softened

For the Enriched Stock: 

1 large Carrot, halved

1 medium Onion, unpeeled and quartered

1 Celery rib, roughly chopped

1 Bay Leaf

a few sprigs Parsley

6 Peppercorns

1 tsp Tomato Paste

1 tsp Soy Sauce

3 cups Chicken Stock

For the Crust:

3 cups All Purpose Flour

1 cup Cold Lard, cut into pieces

1 tsp Salt

1/2 cup Ice-cold Water

For the Garnish:

3 Carrots, sliced

2 Celery ribs, chopped

16 Pearl Onions, unpeeled

1 tbsp Olive Oil

6 slices Bacon, cut into small strips

2 cloves Garlic, minced

2 cups Frozen or Briefly Blanched Peas

2 large handfuls Chopped Fresh Parsley

For the Sauce: 

3/4 cup White Wine

3/4 cup Butter

1/2 cup Heavy Cream or Creme Fraiche

Salt & Pepper

1/2 tsp Paprika, more to taste

To Finish:

Egg Wash

Sea Salt

1. For the chicken, heat the oven to 375. Set the chicken in a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper, rub with butter, and roast until the juices run clear, basting occasionally, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, discard the skin. Remove most of the meat from the bird; set aside. Put the carcass and neck into a stock pot. Add the remaining stock ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 1 and 1/2 hours. Strain and reserve 2 1/2 cups stock for the recipe (cool and freeze any remaining stock for future use). Remove any chicken clinging to the bones and add to the reserved meat. Chop all the meat into bite-sized pieces. You should have about 5 cups of chicken pieces.

2. While the chicken roasts, make and chill the lard pastry. Put the flour, lard, and salt in a food processor and pulse to crumbs. Add the water, and pulse until the dough just comes together. Remove, pat into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill until you’re ready to roll it out.

3. Prepare the garnish. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it, then blanch the carrots and celery until al dente, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain, and rinse in ice-cold water to stop the cooking. Drain thoroughly in same water, then blanch the pearl onions for 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain, and peel.

4. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the bacon until cooked but not crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large bowl, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the onions to the pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook 5 minutes, adding the garlic for the last minute. Add to the bacon, and then add the peas, parsley, and reserved chicken meat. Season with salt and pepper.

5. For the sauce, pour the reserved chicken stock into a saucepan, add the wine, and bring to a simmer. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the warm stock and cook until thick, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cream. Season well with salt and pepper, and stir in the paprika. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and mix gently to combine thoroughly.

6. To assemble the pies, spoon the pilling into two 9-inch pie plates. Divide the pastry into 2 disks, roll out rounds, and lay over the filling, pressing to seal the edges. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

7. Heat the oven to 450. Brush the tops of the pies with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Cut 2 or 3 slits in the tops to allow steam to escape. Bake for 25 minutes, reduce heat to 350, then continue baking until the crust is deeply golden and crisp, about 30 minutes longer. When it’s ready, slice and enjoy. Finally.

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