Recipe from Simple Comforts by Sur La Table (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2010)Serves 8
The announcement "chicken potpie for dinner!" is always greeted with cheers, and who doesn't need a few extra cheers? This savory favorite is easier than ever to make thanks to the roasted chicken and chopped vegetables available in most markets. The recipe can be made in individual pie pans or bowls as well, though you may need to prepare a double recipe of dough to ensure you have enough to top each serving. After Thanksgiving, use leftover turkey instead of chicken.
Any leftovers may be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat in a 375°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
Flaky Pie Dough
- ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
- 1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Herbed Chicken Filling
1. To make the dough, place the butter pieces in a bowl or on a plate and freeze for at least 20 minutes. Refrigerate the water in a small measuring cup until needed.
- 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup diced onion
- ½ cup diced celery
- 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 4 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
- ½ cup peeled and diced carrot
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 10 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 1 pound cooked chicken meat, diced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons milk or cream
2. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 10 seconds to blend the ingredients. Add the frozen butter pieces and pulse 6 to 10 times (in 1-second bursts), until the butter and flour mixture looks like crushed crackers and peas.
3. Immediately transfer the butter-flour mixture to the large bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the cold water over the mixture and "fluff" it, then add another and another, until 3 tablespoons have been added. Continue to fluff and stir 10 to 12 times. It will not be a cohesive dough at this point but a bowl of shaggy crumbs and clumps of dough. Before bringing the dough together, test it for the correct moisture content. Take a handful and squeeze firmly. Open your hand. If the clump falls apart and looks dry, remove any large, moist clumps from the bowl; then add more water, a teaspoon at a time, sprinkling it over the top of the mixture and immediately stirring or mixing it in. Test again before adding any more water. Repeat, if needed. The dough is done when it holds together (even if a few small pieces fall off). If the butter feels soft and squishy, refrigerate before continuing. If the butter is still cold and firm, continue to the next step. (Note: Adding the liquid may also be done on low speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment-add three-quarters of the liquid, test for moistness, then add the remaining liquid if needed.)
4. Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead gently 3 to 6 times. If it won't come together and looks very dry, return it to the bowl and add another teaspoon or two of water (one at a time), mixing in as above, and try again. Flatten the dough into a 6- or 7-inch disk, wrap in plastic or parchment paper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This allows time for the dough to hydrate fully and for the butter to firm up again.
5. If the dough has been refrigerated for more than 30 minutes, it may be very firm and hard and will crack if you try to roll it. Let it sit on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes until it is malleable but still cold. Dust your work surface generously with flour and set the disk on the flour. Dust the top with flour. Roll, turning the dough, until you've got a 14- to 15-inch circle. If at any point the dough becomes warm and sticky, gently fold it into quarters, unfold it onto a baking sheet, and refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until the butter is firm again.
6. Transfer the circle of pie or tart to a baking sheet and chill until ready to use.
7. To make the filling, melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until softened. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the flour. Whisk vigorously to blend the flour with the vegetables and butter. Return to the heat and cook, whisking, for 2 to 3 minutes (do not let the flour brown). Remove the pan from the heat. Add about 1 cup of the stock and whisk until the mixture is smooth and pastelike. This is your only chance to remove any lumps of flour, so whisk thoroughly. Once the paste is smooth, whisk in the remaining stock. Add the carrot. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
8. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until deep golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the filling along with the chicken, peas, chives, parsley, and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set the saucepan into the bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until the filling is cool. (Chilling the filling prevents the flaky pastry from melting when it's placed on top of the pie.) Scrape the filling into the pie pan.
9. Preheat the oven to 275°F and position an oven rack in the center. Brush the edge of the pie pan with a thin film of water. Transfer the dough to the pan, roll the edges to form a thick rope along the edge of the pan, then crimp or form a decorative border as desired. Any leftover pie dough can be used to make decorative designs, such as a chicken, on top of the piecrust. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk with the milk and use a pastry brush to lightly glaze the surface of the pie. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot, spooning the pie into wide, shallow bowls.