I crave comfort food when it’s cold and snowy. Now is the time for warming soups on the back burner, for the fragrance of a whole chicken with garlic and thyme roasting in the oven, for simmering pot roast or pork green chile. From childhood, I remember chicken pot pie with flaky golden crust and creamy gravy full of tender chunks of chicken, potatoes, carrots, and peas. Not a quick supper for a weeknight when we get home at 5:30 pm, with the family tired, hungry and cranky. Chicken pot pie takes a little planning, and more time than average to prepare, but it’s worth it. As long as we’re going to the trouble, why not double the recipe and freeze the second? Pot pie can be baked in a 2 qt. casserole or individual ramekins that bake up faster. And by all means, roast 2 chickens and use the leftovers from the second chicken ready to go for the pot pie. Add chopped mushrooms, diced pimento for color, sweet potatoes instead of or in addition to russet potatoes.
1 cup flour
½ tsp. sea salt
1 stick butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 tbsp. water
Place flour and salt into a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter cubes and process until the texture of coarse cornmeal. While the processor is running, add just enough water to make a dough, where the flour comes together. Dump the contents onto a sheet of plastic wrap and enclose, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
Chicken Pot Pie
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup diced potato or sweet potato
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup diced celery
1 tsp. sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. dried thyme or marjoram
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 cup half and half, or ½ cup cream
¼ cup dry sherry
4 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the potato, onion, carrot, garlic, celery, and optional ingredients. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper plus the dried herb of choice. Cook until softened, stir in the flour, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in the stock, sherry, and half and half, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and peas, and cook for a few minutes to let the flavors marry. Finally, stir in the parsley, taste for seasonings and correct as needed. Place contents into a lightly buttered casserole or individual 8 oz. ramekins, and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Roll out the rested dough. Either top the casserole with a solid round, or cut individual circles to fit the ramekins. Bake a casserole for 45-50 minutes, or individual ramekins for 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly. Serve at once.