Making stuff yourself is better than using the prepared variety from the store. I think we can all agree on that. It’s great to cook from scratch, for the sake of nutrition and frugality and pride and self-sufficiency.
Of course, we all have our limits. Me, I draw the line at puff pastry.
I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart into something that makes sense for me. It’s quicker (should take about an hour, rather than all day, and even less time if you buy rotisserie chicken instead of poaching your own), and I don’t mind saying the finished product doesn’t suffer one bit. This version is also simpler to serve and to save, as long as you have a few little oven-safe bowls. Heats up great the next day.
I would be a little surprised if you told me you could taste much difference between my recipe and Martha’s. That is, unless you can taste the preservatives in the frozen puff pastry. And to that I say this: Spend a few hours trying to make your own puff pastry from scratch, and see if you don’t come back talking about how delicious you think preservatives are. Mm-mm, you’ll say. Tastes like home, you’ll say. Pass the partially hydrogenated gravy, you’ll say.
Mark my words.
Chicken Pot Pies
Makes four generous servings in 16-oz oven-safe dishes
- 1/3 pound frozen puff pastry (that is to say half a box)
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium-large onion, chopped
- 2 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 medium peeled carrots (about 8 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 large cloves fresh garlic, diced
- 12 ounces small sliced mushrooms (or whatever mushrooms you like, come on), stems trimmed
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup milk
- About a pound and a half boneless skinless chicken breasts, poached and cut into small bite-size cubes
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (or about 2 teaspoons dried parsley)
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (or about 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
- 3 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon water
- A sprinkle of garlic powder
- Prepare pastry. Thaw puff pastry according to package directions and roll it out on the counter to about 1/4″. Place all four of your dishes upside-down directly onto the puff pastry, with about 2″ space in between. With a knife, cut a circle around each bowl, leaving about 1″ of pastry visible around the edge. Place the dough circles on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge.
- Place a rack in lower two-thirds portion of the oven. Preheat your oven to 425 (375 if it’s a convection).
- Make filling. In a large heavy-bottom pot, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, potatoes, garlic and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and carrots are fork-tender, 10 to 12 minutes. (It’s gonna smell like delicious home fries this whole time. Do your best not to eat it right out of the pan.) Add mushrooms and cook until they’re heated through. Add wine and cook for 30 seconds. Add flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in chicken stock and milk. Bring to a simmer; cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in chicken, peas, parsley, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to your four dishes and let them cool on a rack for about 5 minutes.
- Make egg wash. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, extra egg yolk, some garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon water.
- Assemble pies. Remove dough circles from refrigerator, and brush surface evenly with egg wash. Place each circle egg-wash-side-down over a bowl, pressing lightly to seal overhanging crust to the side of the dish. Brush top surface of each pie with egg wash. Cut a little X in the middle of each pie to allow the steam to vent.
- Bake. Transfer pies to a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes; cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent crust from burning, and continue baking for 25 minutes more.
- Serve hot, but not too hot. Give it a minute. A chicken pot pie will just as soon burn you as look at you, so either make sure these little suckers don’t see you coming, or go do something else for ten minutes before you dig in.