I have a confession: I really like Marie Callender’s frozen Chicken Pot Pie.
It is a dirty secret I have carried in a deep, dark place for a long time. It was time to let it out, however, so the recovery could begin.
I know people who SWEAR they can taste preservatives and while I smile and nod outwardly, I am rolling my inner eyes and asking if they can also sing with the voices of the mountains and paint with the colors of the wind.
Clearly, I am not one of those people who can taste preservatives.
But I can, with a fair amount of accuracy, taste the difference between foods made with fresh ingredients and those made with canned or frozen ingredients and I think this is one of the big reasons I like the MC pot pies – definitely frozen vegetables but no cream of chicken soup. And, really, why would they use canned soup; they are owned by ConAgra foods which does not have a soup brand – and it would be a poor business model to buy someone else’s.
So . . . they make their base from scratch which I think is all the difference between delicious and crap-tastic. This in mind, I decided to put my apron in the ring and have a go at a homemade chicken pot pie as the weather has turned fall-mazing here in Indianapolis.
The result was . . . freaking unbelievable.
I would have eaten the. entire. thing. were there not a small person occupying a large amount of space in my abdominal cavity
Also, I had to share with husband.
The recipe I found is a great way to use leftover chicken from making chicken stock as well as any scraps from pie crusts which have been hanging about in your freezer. Furthermore, your veggies don’t have to be the freshest. The beautiful thing about chicken pot pie, I am discovering, is it is a gorgeous presentation of -and use for – foods which need a home in your belly the week before they are relegated to a home in the compost. This also makes a great freezer meal – just prepare but do not bake. Throw it in the freezer and pop out and bake when you crave a little amazing.
Note: this recipe is especially for my friend Mandy over at The Finstad Homestead who *claims* she doesn’t like chicken pot pie.
Chicken Pot Pie
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups cream or milk
4 cups cooked chicken or turkey (this is approximate – use a whole small chicken or most of a large chicken and some of a turkey)
lemon juice, salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, and parsley – to taste
about 3 carrots, 2 celery ribs, and 1 medium onion
Make a roux by melting the butter over medium-low heat in a large pan and whisking in the flour. Whisk continuously until the mixture turns a rich blonde color – right around “golden.” Remove from heat and mix in one cup of stock until well incorporated. Make sure your stock is cold or at least not hot as you want to arrest the browning of the roux. Return to heat and whisk in remaining cup of stock. Heat to simmering.
Add the milk about 1/2 cup at a time and continue whisking to make sure there are no clumps. Return the mixture to a simmer while you add your chicken or turkey pieces. Since I cook with cast iron which retains heat rather well, I turn off the heat once finished adding the meat and mix for about a minute to avoid clumping and burning. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, parsley and other spices. (The Duck tasted the creamed chicken before the addition of “spices to taste” and declared it good but with “room for more awesome.” He declared “maximum awesomeness achieved” after the addition of spices to taste.) Then I ignore it while I prepare the vegetables.
Begin preheating your oven to 400. Dice the onions small and the celery and carrots however makes you happiest then saute them in whatever type of fat rocks your boat – I used more butter – until they are tender. Mix together with your creamed chicken or turkey and continue ignoring.
Before prepping your pie crust to receive this awesomeness, consider for a moment your baking dish. In my experience, using a clear dish to bake a double crust pie is usually the way to go. I find I achieve the most even baking of the top and bottom crust when I prepare it in this way. Now . . . I love Emile Henry but unless I am preparing a single- or lattice-crust, I find the bottom crust does not always come out as well done as in a run-of-the-mill Pyrex. This said, I elected to use a clear glass Pyrex bowl – actually a storage bowl – after checking online to make sure it was oven safe, of course, because it gave me the depth and shape I wanted.
Anyway, to finish – place bottom crust on, well, bottom, filling in the middle, and top crust on top. Seal. Vent. Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes or until your crust is golden and the inside is bubbling up through the vents.
VARIATION: Rather than a pie crust crust, you could make this like a chicken and biscuits sort of thing by plopping biscuit dough on top. You could also just make the filling and pour it over biscuits.