Chicken Pot Pie (and a Basic Pie Crust)

When I was cooking in my rinky-dink apartment in Italy, I grew to really love any recipe that started with a basic mirepoix. That the “three sisters” for those who don’t marathon “Top Chef” — onion, carrots, and celery, in equal portions. I bought each at the beginning of the week, set aside some time to prep them, then had them on hand to throw in to any pasta sauce or minestrone.

The mirepoix makes a great appearance (along with another French staple, béchamel) in this simple chicken pot pie recipe.

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With a slightly scorched crust because I still haven’t got the hang of Fahrenheit-to-Celsius conversion

My adaptations include seasoning the chicken with some rosemary, then adding just a touch of herbs de provence to the filling. Since I had some important dress shopping to do later in the day, I prepped all of the ingredients in the morning, including the pie crust.

Here is the recipe.

Don’t buy a store pie crust. That’s just silly. Here is the only recipe you will ever need for a double crust pie.

Basic Pie Crust

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp salt

1 cup shortening

Approximately 1/4 cup of ice water

Mix the salt and flour together. Add the shortening, and reduce it to approximately pea-size pieces using a pastry cutter, a fork, or just your fingers. The King Arthur Cookbook says until it resembles corn meal. Judge for yourself.

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At this point, I opted to use my mixer and a dough hook, since I don’t have three hands. I have, however, also made this recipe in the dorm kitchen with a fork to stir, and a friend to pour. Add the ice water until it has a single ball begins to form. It should have some structural integrity, but should not feel sticky to the touch (add flour if you need to correct).

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At this point, I broke it into two parts and kept it in the fridge until needed.

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That way all I had to do before dinner was roll out the dough and throw it all together.

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Chicken thighs seasoned with salt, pepper, and rosemary, then browned in olive oil

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The vegetable ensemble prior to creating the bechamel and adding the chicken

Assorted tips:

  • You can keep the potatoes from browning by keeping them slightly submerged in water.
  • Use whole wheat flour for some extra heartiness. I did two parts white to one part whole wheat.
  • When you’ve rolled the dough out, move it by first folding it into quarters, then unfolding it on top of the pan/pie.
  • Cut a square of foil, then cut out a circle in the center about an inch shorter in diameter than your pie. Place it on top of the pie while it cooks until there is only about 10-15 minutes left. This will keep your edges from getting too crunchy!
  • Cook the onions until they are golden, and then add the carrots, celery, and potatoes.
  • Two possible variations: I’ve had just the delicious filling sans pie crust, served in a bowl with biscuits instead. Yum! I also remembered, alas, a little too late, that I’ve been meaning to try a cheesy pie crust. I heard a whole piece about it on The Splendid Kitchen, but here is the best example I could find of it in practice with an Apple-Gruyère Pie.
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