The Best Chicken Pie Ever
by Monica Kass Rogers
Homemade chicken soup may be a comfort for body and soul, but tuck that beautiful stock, chicken and vegetables under cover of a flaky pie crust and you’re going one better! Fabulous hot from the oven, and just as good chilled, sliced and reheated the next day with a bit of cheddar, savory pies are a favorite of mine. My corn pie is a summer wonder. I love curried lamb pie with some silky whipped turnips served alongside. Piquant picadillo empanadas and Louisiana-style Natchitoches porkpies (a recipe I need to put up for you! ) are also so good. The list goes on : )
But for the fall and winter, with family coming home, this is a great dish to have on hand.
To make it, I follow the old-fashioned classic method for preparing chicken stock: I put a nice fat chicken in a pot, add a few peppercorns, bay leaf, several large rough chopped carrots and stalks of celery, a large onion, one small turnip, and a handful of thyme sprigs. I let this simmer over low heat for a good four hours. Once the chicken is falling off the bones, the stock is ready. I remove the chicken to cool, discard the vegetables and continue to simmer the liquid until the it reduces down to full-flavor. There will be about six cups of stock left at this point. You’ll save most of the stock to make soup or sauces for other dishes and you’ll use two cups of this batch to make a gravy, mixed with the chopped chicken meat and a steamed medley of colorful veggies and baked in the pie crust. For best results I chill the pie crust very well before pouring the filling into it, and then refrigerate the pie for another hour before baking it.
The Best Chicken Pie Ever
For the Stock
– 1 chicken
– 12-cup stock pot filled with enough water to cover the chicken
– 3 large carrots, rough chopped
– 3 stems celery
– 1 large onion rough chopped
– 1 small turnip chopped
– 1 bay leaf
– 3 peppercorns
– 4 stems of fresh thyme, with leaves
For Pie Crust: (makes double-crust deep dish pie)
– 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp sugar
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 cup ice cold butter or mixture of cold butter and lard
– 5 to 6 tablespoons cold whole milk, cream or evaporated milk
For the Pie Vegetables
– Multicolored carrots–one purple, one orange, one yellow, one white, chopped to make 2 1/2 cups
– 2 celery ribs, chopped to make 3/4 cup
– 1 small turnip, diced to make 1/2 cup
– 2 small potatoes, chopped to make 1 cup
– OPTIONAL ADD: 3 or 4 button mushrooms, sliced and sauteed in butter
For the Gravy
– Two tablespoons butter
– 1/4 cup flour
– 2 cups reduced stock
– leaves from three sprigs of fresh thyme
– salt and pepper to taste
1. Make the stock: Put a nice fat chicken in the pot, add peppercorns, bay leaf, rough chopped carrots and stalks of celery, onion, turnip, and the handful of thyme sprigs. Let this simmer over low heat for a good four hours. Once the chicken is falling off the bones, the stock is ready. Remove the chicken to cool, discard the vegetables and continue to simmer the liquid until the it reduces down to full-flavor. There will be about six cups of stock left at this point.
2. Make the pie crust: Whisk together dry ingredients in a large, shallow bowl. Using two knives, cut in fat. Using fingertips, lightly crumble any larger bits of fat into the flour until mixture looks like wet sand. Add cold milk or cream and lightly work into the dough until it begins to come together. Cover work surface with two overlapping pieces of plastic wrap to make a large 2 ft x 2 ft square. Pour pie crust crumbles onto plastic wrap. Pick up the four corners of the plastic wrap square and pull up squeezing pie crust ingredients into a ball and gently kneading through the plastic wrap until all holds shape of a ball. Cut dough in half. Set aside both halves. Spread counter with new wrap. Place half of dough on wrap; cover with more wrap. Roll out dough into a flat disk. Place disk in refrigerator. Chill. Repeat process to make second disk of dough. Refrigerate dough disks for 1/2 hour. Remove pie disks; roll out. Fit bottom crust into large deep dish pie dish. Prick bottom of dough with fork to eliminate air pockets. Place pie dish that you have fitted with with bottom crust in fridge, leaving the crust overhang rough intact until later.
3. Wrap the other rolled out top crust in plastic wrap, place on tray and place in fridge.
4. While the stock reduces, chop enough multicolored carrots (purple, yellow, orange, white) to make 2 1/2 cups, add finely chopped celery, chopped turnip, small potatoes, chopped. Steam these until al dente—pierceable with a fork, but not mushy. Set aside.
5. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the bones and fat. Chop or tear the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
6. Make a roux by melting two tablespoons of butter in a skillet and whisking in ¼ cup flour until toasted and bubbling. Ladle enough of the reduced broth into the roux to make 2 cups of gravy. Save the rest of the stock for another use. Stir the steamed vegetables and chopped chicken into the gravy. Add leaves from three sprigs of fresh thyme, salt and pepper to taste.
7. Spoon the filling into the prepared pie shell. It should be mounded up over the top of the pie plate. Please note: figuring out exactly how much veg and chopped chicken will fit into your deep dish pie is an inexact science, depending on how you chop your vegetables and how high you like the filling mounded in the crust. Refrigerate any filling that doesn’t fit. Cover the pie with the top crust. Crimp the edge of the crust to enclose the filling. Cut three slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to vent. Chill the pie for one hour in the refrigerator.
8. While the pie is chilling, preheat oven to 350. Place pie in the center of the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
9. Remove from oven. Allow pie to rest for about 10 minutes. Serve hot. Reserve leftover pie in the refrigerator. Note: When the leftover pie is sliced cold, the colorful vegetables look like a mosaic : )
MONICA KASS ROGERS
Monica is a food-business and lifestyles feature writer & photographer with a penchant for reviving vintage recipes. Building on the “Lost Recipes Found” column she originally launched for the Chicago Tribune, Monica now rediscovers vintage in her blog of the same name Lost Recipes Found and continues to write about and photograph contemporary food nationally for restaurants, hotels and magazines.