#39 chicken pot pie

The simple comfort of a chicken pot pie is always a great choice for a snowy Winter Sunday…I made these smaller versions, which we thoroughly enjoyed last Sunday, all warmed & curled up indoors as we let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!  This type of savoury meat pie has a deliciously crisp top crust made of flaky pastry with a filling traditionally consisting of chicken, carrots & peas in a warm & creamy white sauce.

Meat pies have apparently always been somewhat trendy, and used to be a much more lively sort of thing.  In 16th century England, they sometimes had living birds under the crust that would burst out when served – think about those four & twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.   But they soon became an everyday item as the dilemma for the need of nutritious, long-lasting food which was easy to store & carry was solved by the idea of a protective crust, making them great storage containers for that time.  In my version of the traditional chicken pot pie, I decided to make them compact family (& finger-food) friendly: muffin-pan-sized mini chicken pot pies.  The basic ingredients & preparation remain the same, I just divided the pie into 12 individual muffin-sized mini-pies.

To start off, prepare the pastry dough for The Most Perfect Pie Crust.  Set aside.  For the flaky top layer, I used store-bought pastry dough, only because I haven’t ventured into making my own pastry dough.  But as soon as I do, I will be posting the link to it!  Just like the pie crust dough, it’s also useful to prepare the poached chicken in advance as well.

For the Poached Chicken

  • 2 pounds (1000g) of chicken breasts, or 4 pounds (2000g) of chicken parts
  • 2 carrots, cut into chunky pieces
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 cups (480ml) of chicken broth
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons of dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups (480ml) of water

In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, place the chicken, carrots, celery, chicken stock or broth, onion, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, & garlic cloves.  Add the water and bring to a simmer.  Partially cover and cook until the meat releases clear juices when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.  Remove the meat and let it cool.  Reserved the chicken stock for the next part of the recipe and shred the meat into bite-size pieces.

For the Creamed Chicken

  • Poached chicken from above
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 cup (170g) of all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups (360ml) of milk
  • Juice from 1 small lemon
  • Salt & pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk until smooth.  Cook, whisking constantly.  Remove the pan from the heat and add 2 cups of the reserved chicken stock and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the milk and increase the heat, bringing the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly.  Remove the pan from the heat, scrape the inside of the saucepan and whisk vigorously to break up any lumps.  Return the pan to the heat and whisking, bring to a simmer and cook for an additional minute.  Stir in the cooked chicken, bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and season to taste with fresh lemon juice, salt & pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).  Grease a large baking dish, or mini cocotte dishes, or a large muffin pan.  Line the baking dish with the pie crust dough, making sure to have a width of no more than 1/8″ (3mm) all over.

For the Filling

  • Creamed chicken from above
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup (150g) of frozen peas, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons of dried parsley
  • 1 egg, beaten

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent.  Stir the vegetables into the creamed chicken, along with the peas and parsley.  Pour the mixture into the prepared dish lined with the pie crust dough – or each individual muffin tin.  Take the extended pastry dough and set on top of the creamy chicken, cutting out the shape of the baking dish accordingly and tucking the edges down in against the dish sides.  Brush the top with beaten egg.

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.

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