I made a pie. I’m not sure if it’s a chicken pot pie or just a chicken pie (does it have to be made in a pot to be a “pot pie”?) but either way, I made up the recipe and it turned out great, so here it is. I am not a good follower of recipes. I usually read a few and then I cobble together my own based on flavours I like, and what happens to be in the fridge. So, if there’s one thing I’d like to encourage you to do, it is to not take this recipe too seriously. Cooking isn’t science. Either that, or I’m just bad at science.
Let’s start with the basics. I started by putting half a chicken breast and two thighs (all boneless and skinless) into a casserole dish with about half a cup of water (I would have used stock but I didn’t have any) and popped it in the oven to bake/poach.
The recipes I consulted all called for the same quartet of vegetables: onions, carrots, peas and celery. I didn’t mess with that formula too much, although I added a few brussels sprouts (why not?) and sautéed it all in about a teaspoon of butter because let’s face it, butter is the best, but you don’t actually need half a cup of it to make something delicious.
Oh yeah, I forgot. I also added corn. Frozen corn & peas, fresh everything else.
Spice-wise, the recipes I consulted mostly called for dried thyme, which I did use, but one clever lady whose blog I consulted suggested a “teeny bit” of turmeric. That’s my kind of measurement. I used approximately five shakes of the spice tin. Next time I’ll probably double that amount.
Once the veggies started to soften, it was time to add liquid. Most of the recipes I checked out called for what seemed like huge amounts – three cups of chicken stock, plus another cup or so of milk or cream, that kind of thing.
I didn’t have chicken stock and I thought three cups sounded like way too much, so I used the next best thing: miso. I mixed a heaping tablespoon in a cup of warm water, mixed it until the paste dissolved, and poured it in. Flavour-wise, the miso added a perfect saltiness without overpowering the veggies.
I also added about a cup of 2% milk, because that’s what we had in the fridge (and because a creamy pie is a wonderful thing). I cooked the veggies until they were soft and added a heaping tablespoon of whole wheat flower to thicken it. By this point the chicken was done. I tore it apart with a couple of forks, and added it to the pot. I was originally planning to cube the chicken but one of the recipes I found called for shredding and I thought it would give the pie a nicer texture. Definitely true!
The mixture seemed a bit dry at that point so I added a few more splashes of milk, as well as some salt and pepper. Not too much milk though, because who wants a soggy pie?
I’m no baker and I don’t have the patience for things like “making dough” so I bought some, pre-made. I might attempt my own pie pastry next time but for today, just making a chicken pie for the first time in my life was adventurous enough. I let the filling cool off a bit, then piled it as high as it could go into a 9″ pie pan.
Then I tossed a second pie crust on top (making sure to cut some holes in it to let the steam out) and pressed it all together. Finishing touch: a generous brushing of egg over the top of the crust.
I popped it onto a baking sheet (in case of spillage – the baking sheet is a lot easier to clean than the bottom of the oven) and slid it into the oven at 350 degrees until it was golden brown. I think it took about 35-40 minutes. I just kept checking it every 10 or so until it seemed done.
Because I added a lot less liquid than most recipes called for, it was more dense and less soupy than some pot pies I’ve had. It sliced really easily and mostly kept its form.
An interesting and juicier alternative would be to add more liquid to the meat and veggie mixture (more stock, a splash of wine, whatever) and then bake it in a big casserole dish with a pie crust on top, but none on the bottom. I considered doing this but I was really in the mood for pastry.
Et voila! To recap, here’s the recipe:
- One large onion, diced
- 1/2 cup diced carrots
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 1/2 cup diced brussels sprouts
- 1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
- 1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn
- 1 cup of chicken or miso stock
- 1 cup of milk (plus more if needed)
- 1 heaping tablespoon of flour (I used whole wheat, any kind will do)
- A dollop of butter
- dried thyme and turmeric to taste
- Poach, fry or bake the chicken, as is your preference, then tear or cut into small pieces
- Sautée onions in butter, then add other veggies
- Once veggies start softening, add stock and milk, simmer till liquid starts to reduce, then add flour to thicken
- When chicken is done, shred it and add to vegetable mixture. Pour into pie crust and pile high
- Top with a second pie crust, brush with egg and bake for 35-45 minutes
I served it with a simple tomato, basil and shallot salad (+ olive oil, obvs) and a dash of my favourite hot sauce.