Andy finally made chicken pot pies on Sunday and we realized why we don’t make them that often…don’t get me wrong, they are fabulous, just a little, well, time consuming. We have never been able to find a recipe that has all the elements that we are looking for. Many pot pie recipes use filo dough, which is fine in a pinch but we really wanted that true flakey pie crust. Then some of the recipes that do use real pie crust only use it on the top. We want beautiful flakey crust on the top, bottom AND sides. In the end we combined the filling recipe from an old issue of Bon Appetite and the crust recipe from one of our Best of America’s Test Kitchen Cookbooks, their “Fool-Proof Pie Crust.” Now I am sometimes a bit skeptical of things that say “Fool-proof”…I mean, really, that is quite an assertion. In the end, I must say, my incredulity was blown out of the water! The crust turned out so flakey and buttery and fabulous…mmmmm. But I am getting ahead of myself. The ingredients included chilled butter and shortening, flour, salt, chilled water and, here’s the kicker, chilled vodka. Yep, apparently the vodka makes it much more difficult to overwork the dough, whereas with only water, it is possible to overwork and get tough dough, not good eats. Another different thing about this was that instead of blending the flour, butter in a food processor and then slowly drizzling in the cold liquid until the dough came together, you blend the flour, salt, butter and shortening so that it makes a dry sand-like mixture, turn that into a bowl and the fold in the chilled water and vodka with a mixing spoon. It came together perfectly. I tasted it and it tasted like dough! As promised, no hint of a vodka flavor. Dough formed into two four inch disks and into the fridge for 45 min.
Filling quite simple: onion sauted with with 8 oz chopped mushrooms, 2 celery stalks and 2 carrots added. Cooked until softened. Add a couple cloves of garlic and a teaspoon of fresh thyme, saute for a few min, add a cup of good white wine and reduce until the wine is almost gone….literally, there shouldn’t be much liquid left at all. We just want it to flavor the veg, not make it soupy. Add 2.5 cups chicken stock and bring to a simmer then add 5 tablespoons of softened butter that has been mixed with 5 tablespoons of flour, kind of a pre-made, uncooked roux if you will. This will greatly thicken the sauce, then add 1/3 cup heavy cream and 5 cups or one Safeway roasted chicken’s worth of shredded cooked chicken. Finally add a cup of frozen peas and cook for a minute or so until they are cooked through. Salt and Pepper to taste and take off the heat.
We decided to par bake the bottom of the crust because we didn’t want it to get too soggy. Andy rolled out enough to fit our two ceramic pie tins (recently, joyfully discovered finds at Crate and Barrel). We tried to make them look pie-like, pinching the edges and everything. Then, into the freezer for 10 min followed by a stay in a 400 degree oven for 20 min. In order to prevent them from puffing up or browning we put foil on them, making sure that it draped over the edges slightly, and then we fitted another pie tin on top to weigh it down. You could also use dry beans for this. While they were par baking, Andy rolled out the top crust using another upside down tin as a guide. Par baked crust out of the oven, we filled them with the warm filling and covered with the top crust, tucking the edges into the inner part of the outer crust. Then they were egg washed and popped into a 375 degree oven for 25 min until golden brown. And don’t forget to poke holes in the crust so any steam can escape. I just stabbed them randomly a few times with a fork and was chastised for not making it pretty enough (at this point it was midnight) so you might want to do a pretty star or flower pattern in the middle if you like.
We finally ate at 12:30 am and it was worth it. Beautiful, flakey crust, succulent filling….mmmmm. Comfort food at it’s finest.