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True Love = Chicken Pot Pie

They're not that hard to make, but your loved ones need not know this.

Every now and then, I get ambitious in the kitchen. This happened recently after I picked up my free pound of Earth Fare chicken (you can visit their website or sign up in the store to receive weekly coupons for such things). I really don’t buy chicken much, but since I didn’t have to buy it, I couldn’t resist. So, I set to figuring out what I was going to do with it, and got excited about the idea of chicken pot pie.

I decided to make this on a Friday evening, which tends to be a bit more laid back than a weekday, thereby giving me license to have dinner on the table later than usual. What I realized in the course of it all, however, is that pot pie needn’t be as time-consuming as I’ve always imagined it to be. It’s really nothing more than a stew with pie crust fitted over top. The problem is that most pot pie recipes make the process more difficult than necessary. So I read over several and, essentially, created my own.

Now, what does seem to be daunting to many, including myself, is the making of pie crust, though in truth, the most difficult thing about it is hauling my ancient (and heavy) food processor out of its storage space. When I’m reminded that the food processor can make the dough, I wonder why I don’t just make a bunch at once and freeze them. Of course, you can always purchase a pre-made piecrust, though finding one without partially hydrogenated oil can be a challenge. With the aid of my Kitchen Aid processor, making pie (crust) really is as easy as, yes, pie. And you can tailor it to your preferences, of course, by using whole wheat, gluten-free (or other) flour and controlling the fat you use to hold it all together, bearing in mind that you can simply use more water and less fat, if you’re willing to sacrifice flakiness for health. (Which kind of sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?)

Here is my recipe for chicken pot pies (read on for how I came to make this plural):

Make Your Family Love and Adore Your Chicken Pot Pie(s)

Crust:

- 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided

- 3 tablespoons (or so) of ice water

- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

- ¼ teaspoon salt

- ¼ cup shortening (I used Earth Balance)

Filling:

- 1 lb. chicken breast, diced

- 1 cup chopped onion

- Roughly 4 cups vegetables (any combination of diced potato, chopped celery, diced carrot, or peas)

- ½ cup flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)

- 2 cups chicken broth

- ¾ teaspoon salt

- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme

- Tiny bit of milk (skim or not) for brushing onto crust

To prepare crust, either combine all ingredients in food processor and take for a spin until a ball of dough forms OR, do this (which really may be just as easy considering you don’t have to lug out the food processor): Combine ¼ cup flour, ice water, and vinegar in a small bowl. In a medium-sized bowl, combine ¾ cup flour and salt, then cut in shortening with a pastry blender until worked in. Add vinegar mixture and stir just until moist. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap or parchment, and chill for at least 15 minutes.


Preheat oven to 400˚ and prepare filling: Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large skillet. Add diced chicken and onion and cook until chicken is no longer pink. Meanwhile, place all other diced vegetables (except peas, if using) in a microwavable dish with a lid. Add a small amount of water and microwave until veggies are just fork-tender. Combine ½ cup chicken stock and ½ cup flour, and add to the cooked chicken and onion mixture. Stir in steamed veggies, peas, salt, thyme, and a dash of pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, adding more stock gradually as the mixture thickens. Once nicely thickened, remove from heat and cool slightly. Spoon filling into a 1 ½ quart casserole dish or pie pan OR into four individual, oven-safe bowls.

Here’s where I decided to make individual pies instead of one big one: Intimidated by the idea of rolling out the crust and having it uniformly cover all the filling, I figured that fashioning four small crusts would be far more manageable. Furthermore, I have an almost-new set of rustic bowls I wanted to use, and I also realized this would keep my family from fighting over seconds (because there wouldn’t be any). So, you will either roll out all the dough at once to cover your pie pan, pressing the edges to finish it off and form a seal, or you will divide the dough into four pieces to roll out and cover each bowl, sealing, as well. Finally, you’ll cut a few slits in the top of the pie(s) and brush the crust with milk. A large pie will take 45 minutes or so to cook, while individual pies should be checked after about 30 minutes.

Boy, was everyone sure quiet at dinner, because of all the stuffed mouths. That is, until they came up for air long enough to ask why we couldn’t have pot pies once a week. Putting the back of my hand to my floured brow, I sighed that it was much, much too difficult. I then asked them to bring me a stool so I could put my poor, tired feet up.

I won’t tell if you don’t.

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