Chicken pot pie

On the short list of Ultimate American Comfort Foods, chicken pot pie has to rank near the top.  But I’m willing to bet that, for a lot of people, the only kind they know is found in the frozen food aisle of the nearest grocery store.  And while I have fond memories of those little foil pie pans (sometimes we ate pot pies when Mom and Dad went out for the evening–I always think of it as “babysitter food”), homemade is better. Probably cheaper, too.  Our family of five ate this for dinner, and there may have been one small serving left for someone’s lunch the next day.  (I realize that, in a few short years, I’ll need to double the quantity of food I put on the table- I’ve heard those stories about teenage boys!)  It doesn’t have to take very long either if you take a couple well-chosen shortcuts.  Canned or frozen mixed vegetables and some thawed pre-made pie crust (mine was frozen homemade dough this time, but I’ve also used a sheet of frozen puff pastry) can streamline the process.

Chicken Pot Pie

Use a Dutch oven or a large, deep sauté pan.  Sauté about 1 pound of chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces (I like boneless, skinless thighs), in a little oil or butter over medium-high heat until lightly browned.  Remove the chicken and set aside.  Add 3 tablespoons of butter to the pan.  Melt butter over medium heat, and then add 1 finely chopped onion.  When the onion is soft and translucent, whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour.  Cook for about a minute, and then slowly pour in 2 1/2 to 3 cups of milk (or a combination of milk and chicken broth), whisking constantly.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the sauce thickens, whisking frequently.  Add the chicken back into the sauce, and add one can of drained mixed vegetables (this one even had diced potatoes, which was perfect). Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the sauce into a deep dish pie plate or similar oven-safe baking dish.  While the sauce cools slightly, heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare the pie crust or puff pastry and lay it on top of the sauce.  Press it onto the edges of the baking dish and crimp decoratively (or just fold the edges up and go for a rustic look).  Make a few slashes in the crust to allow steam to escape, and place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and you see the filling bubbling up.  Let the pie rest on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before serving.


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