Monday, October 22, 2012

Cast-Iron Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust

Happy Monday, all. It's cloudy outside with a chance of rain, which is pepping my mood, but it's still lingering in the lower 80s here in Dallas.

Despite this, I've gone into full-fledged comfort food mode.

I couldn't help myself. (Who can resist chicken pot pie, baked goods and pumpkin pie spice flavored treats??)

Sure, I don't have 50 degree weather as an excuse. (Something I desperately long for now.)

Instead, I blame it on my October issue of Everyday Food. Yes, a magazine made me do it.

For weeks on end, this issue sat on my desk with its mini chicken pot pie cover photo challenging me to make the ultimate comfort food.

Keep in mind that I'd only ever gone so far as to heat up a store-bought frozen pot pie for dinner. I had my doubts and imagined hours of slaving over the dough and filling.

But the more I glimpsed the chicken pot pie photograph, the more intense my craving grew. Desperation and laziness won. 

I ended up buying two frozen chicken pot pies from Whole Foods. They were tiny, expensive ($5 a piece) and disappointingly bland.

I knew I could do better myself, but was hesitant to make a pie crust from scratch. Ever the problem-solver, I searched online for easier options that appeal to people like me with noob-level pastry skills.

That's when I stumbled upon Eat Live Run's recipe for Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust. Voila! I'd found an alternative to pie crust—frozen sheets of pastry crust! 

But, as tasty as her recipe looked, I really wanted a filling with white wine, so I looked onward. 

Eventually I discovered Real Simple's Chicken and Vegetable Potpie recipe, adapted it slightly and made one of the tastiest comfort meals I've ever eaten

My boyfriend raved about this chicken pot pie (he's a picky eater), and we both ate it for brunch the next day. 

The leftover chicken pot pie tasted JUST as good and the puff pastry crust did not get soggy in the microwave upon reheating. We served ourselves huge portions and had seconds both times, so it only lasted for two meals. 

If you have a cast iron skillet or pan, this is definitely one of the best ways to get double duty out of it! 

Don't have a cast iron skillet? Get one here

Cast iron is affordable and lasts a life time (or two) if you care for it properly. Plus, the skillets are great for whacking bad guys over the head!

Cast Iron Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust
The ultimate comfort food any time of the year, but especially during the cooler seasons, is simplified by using a frozen puff pastry crust. This yields a super flaky, delectable crust that compliments the savory, creamy filling. Hidden beneath the crust are tender chicken pieces, carrots, celery, and potatoes in a sauce comprised of homemade chicken stock, white wine, milk and butter. A touch of thyme and garlic powder brings everything together. 
Adapted from Real Simple's Chicken and Vegetable PotPie & EatLiveRun's Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust
Serves: 4-6 (less if you're eating large portions & second helpings, like I did)

1 lb of cooked chicken meat*, cubed or shredded (I used 3 whole chicken legs)
1 tablespoon of cooking oil (like genuine extra virgin olive oil or quality coconut oil)
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons of unbleached organic flour (I used white whole wheat)
3 tablespoons of pastured butter
1/2 cup of dry white wine (I used a chardonnay)
1 cup+ 2-3 tablespoons of homemade chicken stock
1 cup of organic milk
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
Sea Salt, sprinkled to taste
--I recommend Pink HimalayanCeltic or Utah sourced salt--
Cracked Black Pepper, sprinkled to taste
1 package of frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed in fridge
1 pastured egg + 1 tablespoon of water, beaten (optional)

*You can use leftover cooked chicken if you have that on hand or rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for less cook time. However, I've included directions for cooking the chicken. Use whatever cut you like, but bone-in will yield more flavor & you can make chicken stock out of the water while your pot pie is cooking.

Recommended Equipment 
cast-iron skillet
stainless steel stock pot

Fill a large stock pot with water and add 2-3 whole chicken legs (the larger cut with leg & thigh connected). Turn the heat to medium-high. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, reduce heat, cover pan with a lid and simmer for 1 hour. 

Remove cooked chicken and discard water or save it to make chicken stock. (I recommend this!) While the chicken is cooling, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and dice the onion, carrots, celery and potatoes. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium and add a tablespoon of olive oil. When that's warmed, add the onion and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and potatoes. Stir everything, salt & pepper to taste. Add 2-3 tablespoons of chicken stock, cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium low. Let the vegetables cook about fifteen minutes or so, or until fork tender.

Now's a good time to pull the puff pastry out of the fridge (or freezer). Remove them from the box and package, then let them thaw out for 10-15 minutes. Once they soften and become more pliable, unwrap both sheets onto the counter.

While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the chicken. Discard the skin, remove the meat from the bone, then shred or cube it. 

When the vegetables are cooked through, remove the lid. Slowly add the flour and stir to incorporate. Then add the butter, giving it a few stirs. Pour in the wine, cook for 2-3 minutes or until it's evaporated slightly. Then add the chicken stock and milk and cook for another few minutes. The mixture will begin to thicken. 

Stir the cooked chicken, thyme, garlic powder and additional salt & pepper into the filling. Taste the sauce and add more seasoning if necessary. 

Transfer the cast iron pan to the oven and heat the filling for 5-10 minutes. You want the mixture really hot so that the bottom of the puff pastry crust cooks completely.

While that's heating, press out the puff pastry and fix any cracks or breaks in the dough with a few teaspoons of water. Beat an egg with one tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Remove the cast iron pan from the oven. Lay one sheet of the dough on the left half of the pan. Trim the excess, but let the dough hang over the pan slightly. Do the same with the other side and use the excess dough to fill in any empty spots or simply add to the top for extra crust. Slice the dough several times to allow steam to escape and brush the crust with the egg wash. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is properly browned.

Like this chicken pot pie recipe? Try these:

Question for Discussion: What are you favorite vegetables to add to Chicken Pot Pie? Answer in the questions section below.

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