I have quite a few cookbooks, but there is only one that I pick up and read front-to-back like a “real” book: The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather. And I do it a couple of times a month. I can close my eyes and recite a couple of the recipes by memory, much like the way I recited simple German verb conjugations in the 6th grade.
I could psycho analyze why I’ve taken to her book the way that I have – maybe it’s because she’s a fellow Texan, maybe it’s because I’d love the idea of leaving this big city behind for the beautiful hill country myself. But there’s really no need for all the soul-searching psycho babble – just take one bite of her All Sold-Out Chicken Pot Pie.
I’d call it the “ultimate comfort food,” but depending on the day and my mood, I could apply that label to just about anything edible That’s why we had chicken pot pie on a day when it reached 92 degrees outside.
It’s a rich and creamy concoction that lends itself to the flavors of the season. I stuff mine full of on-sale produce in the summer and leftover turkey and green beans at Thanksgiving. And the crust? Oh my goodness, the crust. Can you ever go wrong with cream cheese?
The long list of ingredients might look daunting for a Tuesday night dinner, but the prep time isn’t terrible as long as you read the recipe and get organized before getting started. It probably took me almost 3 hours the very first time I made the dish. I learned a few lessons and now it’s in the oven in about an hour. Shuffle the recipe around to suit your veggie tastes and accommodate what you have on hand. And then crank down the AC, turn on some Christmas music, and tell me if it doesn’t feel like winter-in-a-bowl to you, too.
Chicken pot pie
A rich, creamy, and indulgent chicken pot pie recipe.
- For the Filling
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
- Salt and freshly ground black or white pepper
- 1 purchased rotisserie chicken
- 8-10 oz package frozen peas and carrots
- 8-10 oz package frozen corn
- For the Cream Sauce
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional; I omit or use skim milk)
- 1 tsp Tobasco
- Salt and freshly ground black or white pepper
- For the Pie Crust
- 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 8 oz chilled cream cheese, cut into large pieces
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black or white pepper
- 1 large egg
- To make the filling:
- Melt the butter in a large saute pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and saute for 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and saute about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more, until fragrant. Stir in the crushed red pepper, thyme, and add salt and pepper to taste.
- While the vegetables are sauteing, shred the chicken. Stir the frozen vegetables and the chicken into the vegetable mixture. Set the filling aside.
- To make the cream sauce:
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the chicken stock and cook the sauce over medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of a cream soup. Add the cream, hot pepper sauce, and salt and white pepper to taste. Pour the cream sauce over the chicken filling and stir to combine. Transfer the filling to baking pans of choice:
- - Fill individual, oven-safe bowls three-quarters full
- - Divide between 2 9-inch baking dishes
- - Fill one 9x13 baking dish
- To make the crust:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (or don't, if you're cooking for the freezer). In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the butter and flour until crumbly. Add the cream cheese, salt, and pepper. Continue pulsing until the dough forms a ball.
- Set the dough on a flat surface dusted with flour. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Measure the diameter of the baking dishes and cut dough into pieces that are slightly larger. Lay the dough on top of the pot pies, and tuck any overhanging edges under. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and brush the dough lightly with the beaten egg. Bake the pies for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.
- To cook from the freezer: Preheat oven to 375. Cover top of the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and brush the dough lightly with the beaten egg. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until golden brown and the center registers 165F.
Yields: 8-12 servings
Estimated time: 1 hour 45 minutes