Chicken Potpie

The leaves have begun to change color and though it may be rather crisp and slightly warm outside, the raindrops tell me that summer is quickly vanishing in Seattle and that fall has begun.  I love this time of year.  Don’t get me wrong, I could frolic and bask in the sun all the days of my life, but there is something about living in a place with clearly marked seasons that warms me to my core.  Growing up in east Texas, I saw quite the extremes of each season, only to be thoroughly beaten by the weather Nick and I experienced in Mongolia.  Seattle is a rainier but more gentle version of the other two.  The first thing to typically change around our home, depending on the season, is food.  I become absolutely delighted with all the new produce that suddenly appears in the markets and I begin to brainstorm ways to incorporate them in my weekly meal planning.  This also includes the tasty, warm beverages that become a daily affair in our home- i.e, hot cocoa with fresh whipped cream and cinnamon, but I shall save that for another time.

And so I give you a recipe to one of my favorite fall meals.  Mrs. B’s Chicken Potpie.  It is not difficult to make- especially if you make the crust in advance or if you buy pie crusts from the store- and the aromas that fill the house while it bakes leaves everyone slightly drooling in anticipation of the combination of simmering vegetables and flaky, buttery crust. 

Without further ado, happy baking.

Crust- I use a quick puff pastry dough for the top and bottom crusts of the pie.  You can also buy regular frozen pie crusts and it should bake the same.  I like to keep a frozen supply of quick puff pastry in the freezer because it is so easy to make and extremely versatile and good to have on hand.  Especially for those Saturday morning cherry turnovers.  Yum. 

Quick Puff Pastry Dough- adapted from Family Meals by Maria Helm Sinskey

3 1/2 C all-purpose flour- shifted
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 lb (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1 C ice water

In a food processor, combine the shifted flour, salt and butter until large pea size pieces of butter are visible.  You can also do this by mashing the butter with a fork or by using a paddle attachment on your mixer.

Add the vinegar slowly then drizzle in the ice water until the mixture is softened and begins to come together.  You may not need all the water but the dough should be wet and slightly sticky. 

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, gather into a ball and knead for a about a minute.  Not too long, because you don’t want the dough to become warm and melt the butter pieces.

Then, roll the dough into an 11 x 17 in rectangle about 1/2 in thick.  With the shorter side facing you, fold the bottom third of the dough upward and then fold the top third down- as if folding a letter.   It should now measure approx.  6 x 11 inches.  If the dough is warm you can wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Once again, roll the dough out to an 11 x 17 in rectangle and perform the folding process again.  Roll and fold a third time.  Then gently push down on the edges to make the ends all come together.

Cut the folded rectangle into thirds, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight.  You can also freeze for up to 3 months, then simply thaw what you need overnight in the refrigerator before use.  Each third can be used for a 10 in tart, pie, or serving of turnovers.

Chicken Potpie

2/3 quick puff pastry recipe OR two pie crusts, thawed
1 Tablespoon butter
1 medium sweet or yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 package of peeled baby carrots
1 Cup mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bag each of three of your favorite frozen veggies- feel free to get creative- i.e, green beans, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, corn, etc.
1 C chicken stock
1/4 C white wine- can substitute 3 Tablespoons of white vinegar
2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 teaspoon each of your favorite spices.  A few of mine include:  salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, paprika.
1 large egg, beaten

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Melt the butter and saute the onion and celery until golden.  Add the carrots, mushrooms and garlic.  Continue to cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add the wine or vinegar.  Let simmer for a few minutes.  Add the stock, frozen veggies, and spices.  Lower heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are still slightly crisp but mostly tender. 

Add the chicken and allow to simmer some more, at least 5 minutes.  You want the majority of your juice to be evaporated and your vegetables to be tender.  If you are having a hard time thickening your stock, you can add a Tablespoon of flour to a teaspoon of cold water to create a paste.  Toss it in with the veggies to help it thicken. 

Remove from heat when stock is thick and veggies are tender.  Let cool, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  This “filling” can be made a day or two in advance.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C).  Roll out one third of your quick puff pastry dough to fit your 9 inch pie pan.  Place it in your pan, being sure that the crust hangs over the edge a bit.  Pour your filling on top of the this crust.  Roll out the other third of your quick puff pastry.  Lay it atop the filling and seal the crust with a fork, crimping along the edge.  Brush the top of the crust with the beaten egg.  Using a sharp knife, cut tiny slivers into the center top of the crust to allow for steam to escape.

Bake until golden brown and filling is hot, approximately 35-40 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving.