Sunday, March 9, 2014

Chicken Puff Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

When I was growing up, chicken and other pot pies were not a homemade meal. Instead they came from companies like Swanson® and Banquet® to be served when mom didn’t have time to make dinner. But somehow, since that time, pot pies moved out of the frozen dinner category and into the realm of comfort food.
They began showing up on trendy menus everywhere basically as stews in some kind of a shell. Some stuck with the traditional pie crust, others went for the biscuit topping trend but my favorites are those that are capped with buttery, flaky puff pastry.

The pastry is important to me but even more so is the filling. So what I make here is a creamy blend of meat and vegetables – definitely not a stew, but something much more subtle and almost as delicate as the flaky shell under which it hides.

Chicken Puff Pie 
Yield: 4 Servings     Preparation Time: 30 Minutes + 1 Hour Resting     Cooking Time: 25 Minutes


• 4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
• 2 Pounds Boneless/Skinless Chicken, rinsed, patted dry and cut into ½” chunks
• 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
• ½ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• 3 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
• 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
• 8 Small Red Skin Potatoes, about ⅛ pound each, unpeeled and cut into ½” dice
• 2 Large Carrots, about ¼ pound each, peeled and cut into ½” dice
• 1 Medium Onion, cut into ½” dice
• 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
• ⅛ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
• ¼ Teaspoon Dried Thyme
• 1 Bay Leaf
• 1 Cup Dry White Wine
• 2½ Cups Homemade Chicken Stock, or low-sodium store bought
• 1 Cup + 1 Tablespoon Heavy Cream
• ¼ Cup Dry Sherry
• 1 Cup Frozen Green Peas
• ½ Pound Frozen Puff Pastry, defrosted according to package directions
• 1 Large Egg

Preparation Steps

Step 1.
Cut one circle of parchment paper that will overhang the rim of a 2-cup ramekin by ½” and set this template aside.

Ramekin parchment paper

Step 2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet set over high heat.

Step 3. Season the cut up chicken with salt and pepper then toss in a mixing bowl with 2 tablespoons of the flour until coated.

Step 4. Add the chicken pieces to the hot oil, immediately reduce the heat to medium-high and sauté the chicken for 5 minutes until golden and thoroughly cooked. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside, keeping the pan over the heat.

Step 5. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter to the pan then add the
Raw ingredients for Chicken Pot Pie
potatoes, carrots and onions and sauté for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium then stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme and bay leaf and sauté for 3 minutes more.

Step 6. Add the wine to the pan then turn the heat back to medium-high and deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping with a wooden spoon. Cook until the liquid is almost completely absorbed into the vegetables then stir in the chicken stock and the 1 cup of cream. Allow the liquid to return to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring quite often until the liquid is reduced by half and is thick and creamy - about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf then stir in the chicken, the sherry and the peas.

Step 7. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour and 2 tablespoons of butter to form a paste and stir into the chicken mixture. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to four 2-cup ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Step 8. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Unfold the puff pastry and, if necessary, roll it out so that the pastry is about ⅛” thick and large enough to use the parchment template from step 1 to cut the pastry into 4 circles.

Step 9. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and the reserved 1 tablespoon of cream to make a wash. Remove the filled ramekins from the refrigerator and place them on a baking sheet. Brush the tops

Brushing egg wash on Chicken Pot Pies
and sides of the rims with the egg wash then place one puff pastry circle on top of each, pressing them gently down over the sides of the ramekins. Brush the top of the pastry with the egg wash and then pierce the pastry with the tip of a sharp knife four times to make steam vents.

Step 10. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 25 minutes until the filling is bubbling hot and the pastry is a deep golden brown.

Let the pies rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Tips and Trending

~ Use any kind of chicken – all breast meat, all thigh meat or a combination of both. The chicken cooks completely during the sauté step and just heats through while the assembled dish bakes. The small ½” sized chunks eliminate any need to vary the cooking time even if you use a combination of light and dark meat.

~ I am not a baker. There, I’ve said it! Making the perfect pastry requires focus, a willingness to follow direction and a subtle touch that just isn’t me. Don’t get me wrong, I can whip up a batch of the best oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever tasted, but that’s because all of the hard work is done by my stand mixer. Puff pastry, on the other hand needs the finesse that I just don’t have, so I buy prepared frozen puff pastry sheets and quickly move on to the recipe at hand.

~ There are many schools of thought regarding the proper way to eat a pot pie. One method requires a plate onto which the pie is turned out intact and then smashed to pieces. Since there is no bottom crust in this recipe the alternative is to remove the flaky top, place that on a plate and spoon the creamy contents of the ramekin over the crust. Others may wish to forgo the additional plate and simply smash the crust down into the creamy contents below. Still others love to cut out the center of the crust, leaving a ring of crust attached to the rim of the ramekin or simply remove the crust altogether and munch it bit by bit as they spoon out the chicken and vegetables.

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