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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Chicken potpie … Talk about comfort food!

By
From page A7 | February 06, 2013 |

Chicken pot pie from scratch is a one-dish meal that beats the frozen version hands — and forks — down. SHNS photo

SH13B018CHICKENPOTPIE Feb. 4, 2013 -- Chicken pot pie from scratch is a one-dish meal that beats the frozen version hands -- and forks -- down. (SHNS photo by Natalie Root)

By Jennifer Chandler

Nothing says comfort food like chicken potpie. Chicken and vegetables in a rich and creamy sauce topped off with a flaky crust makes for a satisfying one-dish meal.

If you thought frozen potpies were good, you need to try making a homemade one. It’s surprisingly easy to make a potpie from scratch, and I can guarantee it will be infinitely better than any store-bought version.

It’s the savory sauce that makes the big difference. This version uses simple ingredients — butter, flour, chicken stock and cream — to create a sublime filling. I use poultry seasoning to impart flavor to the dish. If you don’t have this aromatic seasoning blend in your pantry, you can make your own by grinding together 1 tablespoon each of dried rosemary, dried sage, dried thyme and dried marjoram in a spice grinder or mini food processor. Or you can simply season your potpie filling with a pinch of the aforementioned herbs.

Once the sauce is made, you can add chicken and your favorite vegetables. This version uses traditional ingredients like carrots, potatoes and peas. Roasted root vegetables like parsnips and turnips are also delicious in a potpie.

If you are short on time, you can pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store for this recipe instead of baking your own chicken. This shortcut can save you about 30 minutes in prep time.

Once the filling is complete, top the pie with a pie dough and bake until heated through and the piecrust is flaky.

Besides being delicious, another wonderful thing about potpies is that they can be made a day in advance. If doing so, either top with the piecrust just before baking or make sure the pie filling is completely cooled before topping with the uncooked piecrust. You can also freeze the unbaked potpie to bake on a busy day.

Chicken Pot Pie

The ingredients:
3 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (about 2½ pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups water
1 cup peeled and finely sliced carrots (about 4 carrots)
1 cup peeled and diced white potatoes (about 1 large potato)
½ cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 unbaked piecrusts (9-inch), homemade or store-bought
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Putting it together:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the chicken with the olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast until cooked through, about 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove and discard the bones and the skin. Cut the chicken meat into large dice. You should have about 3 to 4 cups of chicken.

While the chicken is roasting, in a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the water to boil. Add the carrots, potato, onion and peas and cook until crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Raise the oven temperature to 395 degrees.

In another large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk until the mixture is golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock and cream. Add the poultry seasoning and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, carrots, potato, onion and peas. Stir to combine. Adjust the seasonings as necessary.

Pour the filling into a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. On a lightly floured surface, place the two piecrusts on top of each other. Roll the dough until it is big enough to cover the baking dish. Place the piecrust over the top. Flute the edges, if desired, and cut slits in the top for steam to escape. Brush the crust with the beaten egg. In case of overflow, place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes.

Cooking tip: Sometimes I top the filling with biscuits rather than the piecrust. For a short cut, you can use canned biscuits, but I prefer homemade. Just add the biscuits 15 minutes into the cooking time to prevent burning.

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