Thursday, March 14, 2013

Easy, Make-Ahead Chicken Pot Pie

Happy Pi(e) Day! I was really craving chicken pot pie a couple of weeks ago, so I whipped up a batch of filling for the freezer. That way, we could just pull out some individual servings, mix a quick crust, and have it whenever we wanted. It's so satisfying! I went with a biscuit crust because, well, it's really easy and fast and I'm not all that crazy about pie crust to begin with. Pot pie filling is very simple, but it's even easier to do it batch-style and just defrost in the microwave while whipping up the biscuit dough so you can pop it in the oven quickly. It's so much more worth it than the pre-made boxed kind. And you know (and can pronounce) all of the ingredients. This recipe easily doubles (or triples).

Chicken Pot Pie Filling (makes 4 generous servings):

My husband put this together (photo and all) while I studied in the other room. Hooray for easy freezer food!

  • 2 skinless chicken breasts, poached (if you've de-boned it yourself, toss the bones in the poaching liquid for extra flavor!). See *note below.
  • Whatever vegetables you like! Onion, carrot, and celery are a given for me, but I toss in whatever else is my whim in the moment or what is staring back at me from the crisper. This time I added mushrooms, broccoli, corn, and kale. I generally do about a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of vegetables to meat. You could easily make this vegetarian, too, and leave the meat out of it.
  • 2-3 c. chicken veloute (see below)

  1. Poach the chicken breasts. You can do this in seasoned water, but if you have chicken or vegetable stock around or some stock paste (Better than Bouillon is pretty great), even better. Once you are done, save the poaching liquid! You'll need some of it for the veloute.
  2. Saute whichever vegetables will need extra cooking time beyond the oven (e.g. onion, carrot, celery, mushrooms) until just starting to soften, so they don't overcook. You just want to give them a little head start.
  3. After the chicken has been removed, strain the poaching liquid and set it to simmer.
  4. In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil and whisk in 2 Tbsp. flour to form a paste (roux). Whole meal flours may get a little gritty, so white flour is traditional here. In this case, I don't mind white whole wheat. If using veloute where it's more exposed, a smoother texture is much more preferable. (A purist would use butter instead of olive oil, but I don't even keep it in the house. I'm a real rebel.)
  5. Stir the roux over low heat until just beginning to turn golden. You want to keep it light in color (and flavor). 
  6. Slowly whisk in the liquid 1/2 c. at a time until approx. 2-3 c. have been absorbed. Simmer for 1-2 min. to thicken (it will thicken further upon cooling). It should be the consistency of a light gravy when finished. If it's too thick, you can always add a little more stock to thin.
  7. Shred or cube the chicken and mix with vegetables in a large bowl.
  8. Stir in veloute. Add half and slowly incorporate the rest to taste, desired consistency (this can depend on personal taste and the vegetable assortment).
  9. Pour filling in individual containers. At this point, you can freeze it for later use or bake it up in some pies!
  10. For a crust, just use your favorite biscuit recipe. You'll want enough for approx. 1/3" layer of dough to cover each. Pierce the dough before baking to keep from over-rising. Then again, if you want it fluffy and more dumpling-like, forgo the piercing and bake as-is.
  11. Bake at 400° F for approx 25 min, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165
    °F in the middle
  12. Enjoy!
*Note: poaching lean meat, like skinless chicken breast, is a great way to keep it from drying out. It's not actually the liquid that keeps it moist, but the process. High temperatures can cause the muscle to tense, essentially squeezing out extra moisture the longer it cooks. The slow poaching leaves it nice and relaxed while still bringing it up to a safe internal temperature. The nice thing is that the temperature for poaching (aim for ~160-165°F) is in the same neighborhood as the desired internal temp, so it is almost impossible to overcook. Periodically check the temperature of the liquid and adjust. Look for bubbles that are about to break, just below a simmer. If you have a cool infrared thermometer, it makes it super easy (I love being married to a tech geek), but an instant read thermometer will also do. The chicken should be removed when it's approx. 160°F (internal) so that residual cooking will bring it up to the safe internal temp of 165°F.


Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment!