If comfort and convenience had a love-child, its name would be Chicken Pot Pie.
Chicken Pot Pie, when done well, is a mesmerizing combination of tender chicken, supple vegetables, a creamy, savory sauce, and a delightful dome of pastry. The chicken is bite-sized and tender. The vegetables are never too crispy, never too soggy, and seasoned just right. The sauce is velvety without being too rich, hitting all the right notes of warmth and kinship and home. And the pastry on top provides buttery delight, a touch of extravagance, and quite honestly, the part you love the most.
Logistically speaking, Chicken Pot Pie does it all at meal-time. In one bubbling pot (or baking dish, or cast-iron skillet) you find the components of a full meal, no additional side dishes required. It’s a one-pot wonder, a delight, a solo act that requires no supporting roles in order to shine.
I love Chicken Pot Pie. The smell of it, the sauce bubbling over the edges of the pan, the golden crust, the piping hot amalgam of chicken and sauce and vegetables. When I take a bite, I am transported to a memory of home and belonging and warmth that may only exist in my mind, but feels real when I prepare and serve this dinner to my family. It isn’t fancy food, but it knows how to deliver exactly what one needs after a long day or a challenging week. More than most dishes, Chicken Pot Pie tastes homey.
My recipe for Chicken Pot Pie acknowledges the steps this dish requires (cooking chicken, sauteing vegetables, simmering a sauce) and rewards us by insisting that we use frozen puff pastry instead of mixing pastry from scratch. What a gift.
If you’re inclined to make this dish in your home kitchen, may I suggest the corresponding learn-at-home video lesson in my shop? In it you will find every step explained in detail, every tip and trick shared, and every reason to remember why learning to create a pan full of Chicken Pot Pie is a gift you give yourself.
Chicken Pot Pie
for the filling…
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 russet potato, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 8 ounces carrots, diced
- 8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- kosher salt
- ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 cups diced cooked chicken
- 8 ounces frozen green peas (no need to thaw)
for the cream sauce…
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- a few dashes of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
for the crust…
- 1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed (2 sheets)
- 1 egg, beaten together with a little bit of water or cream
Begin by making the filling…
- In a large pot set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and potato plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and cook for at least 10 minutes until the onion is beginning to turn translucent. Watch your heat very carefully. You want the vegetables to cook, but you don’t want the butter or potatoes to burn on the bottom of the pan.
- After 10 minutes, add the bell peppers, carrots, mushroom, garlic, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and crushed red pepper flakes. Continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes. As the vegetables cook, the potatoes will become tender and begin to break down and coat the other vegetables. This is what we want. Before you move on to the next step, take a bite of the biggest chunk of vegetable you can find and make sure it is crisp tender. The vegetables need to be fully cooked before you move on.
- In a large bowl, add the vegetable mixture to the chicken and the frozen peas. Set aside. You do not need to thaw or cook the peas. Do not clean the pan you used to cook the vegetables in.
Next, make the cream sauce…
- Make sure you have all of the ingredients for the cream sauce measured, opened, and ready to grab. Preheat the oven to 375.In the now empty vegetable pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it is melted and beginning to bubble, add the flour and whisk until combined. It will clump up and look like sand. Keep whisking for two minutes, constantly moving the lumpy mixture over the bottom of the pan. You are cooking the raw flavor out of the flour and browning the butter.
- After two minutes, while whisking, slowly add the chicken stock. Once all of the chicken stock has been added, continue to stir, breaking up the lumps and scraping up the bottom of the pan, until the mixture comes to a simmer and you see a few bubbles break the surface of the mixture. Seeing bubbles break the surface means the full thickening power of the flour has been reached. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cream, hot pepper sauce, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
- Once the sauce ingredients are all combined, add it to the chicken and vegetable mixture. Stir until everything is mixed together. Taste it to make sure you like the level of seasoning. Transfer the mixture to a large cast iron skillet or baking dish of your choice.
Finally, make the topping…
- Remove the sheets of puff pastry from the packaging. Gently unfold one sheet and lay the entire sheet over the top of the filling. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt. Use a sharp knife to pierce a few holes in the pastry. Place the entire baking dish on top of a sheet tray to catch any drips.
- Bake the chicken pot pie at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling around the edges and the pastry is completely browned on top. Depending on the size of your baking dish, the cook time might vary.
- If desired, cut the remaining sheet of puff pastry into smaller pieces, place on a parchment-lined sheet tray, brush with egg wash, and bake separately for about 20 minutes.To make chicken pot pie ahead, prepare the filling and store covered in the fridge. When you are ready to serve it, add the puff pastry and bake, allowing extra cook time for the cold filling to fully heat.