When you live in one city (Austin) and work in another city across the country (NYC) with clients in even different cities (and countries!) you travel a lot. And when you travel a lot, weekends are spent catching up on your daily life (laundry, grocery shopping, battling the rose bush that has not only taken over your backyard but begun to climb its way to the moon) versus more relaxing things like say...having friends over.
So the holidays for us is when we set aside a few nights to pay back friends who we owe a dinner (or two) with a home cooked meal. Only then do I have the time to go 'all out' like my inner Martha Stewart dreams of doing the rest of the year.
Of all the dinners I made this past holiday season, these pot pies stood out above the crowd demanding their rightful place in the blogosphere. They are at once comforting and familiar, like a favorite childhood story, and yet somehow a total surprise. The filling is luxurious and creamy but not a burden on the palate - light enough to allow the flavor of the mushrooms, peas, celery, carrot and onion to shine through. But if I could praise the filling all day, I could praise the cream cheese crust for eternity.
It truly is life altering. I'm dead serious I haven't been the same since. I even found myself eating the leftover pot pie cold straight from the fridge the next day like some hungover zombie, quietly giggling to myself that it tasted even better cold.
Of course as with all celestial things in life, there's a catch. While easy to make they are a little time consuming which is why for me they're a holiday time treat. The upside is you can make them ahead of time and have them chilling wrapped in the fridge ready to pop in the oven. Of course you could save time by using a store bought pie crust but just know you'd be cheating yourself. I mean honestly straight up denying yourself an out of body experience only without the whole alien probe thing which is nice.
Life Altering Chicken Pot Pies
*Adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather and seen on Hottie-biscotti.com/blog/
* Filling and crust can be made a day ahead, refrigerated and assembled just before OR even completely assembled and wrapped well in plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 8 hours before baking off.
* If you're unsure of the flavor of celery seeds or are serving this to little ones, I'd leave them out. The pies will still blow your mind, I promise.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 (8 oz) package sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup frozen peas
white meat from 1 rotisserie chicken (skin removed), meat torn into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon celery seeds (optional)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup half & half
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
pinch fresh ground nutmeg
pinch (or 2) cayenne
1 cup butter, chilled
3 cups flour
8 oz cream cheese, chilled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg, beaten (for brushing the tops of the pies)
1. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and potato and sauté for 5 minutes, then add garlic. Continue to cook for 5 minutes.
2. Add carrots, celery and mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add in the wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let bubble away stirring often until most of the wine has evaporated. Lower the heat and stir in the salt, pepper and parsley, coriander and celery seeds if using.
3. Stir in the chicken and peas, remove from the heat and set aside.
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour gradually and whisk until smooth.
2. Whisk in the chicken stock and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly. Raise the heat slightly - just to below boiling and stir until the mixture thickens.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the half and half, a half teaspoon of kosher salt and a pinch of black pepper as well as the thyme, nutmeg and cayenne.
4. Pour the cream mixture into the chicken and vegetable mixture and mix to combine.
1. Cut the butter into 16 pieces and pulse in a food processor with the flour until crumbly.
2. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and add to the processor along with salt and pepper. Continue pulsing until the dough comes together and forms a ball.
3. Use immediately or chill for 30 minutes to an hour wrapped in plastic wrap. If you chill it longer, let it warm up a bit before rolling.
1. Fill six 1 and 1/2 cup oven safe bowls or ramekins equally, about 3/4 full, with the creamy chicken mixture. You could also use a deep dish pie plate or casserole.
2. Split the dough in 6 equal pieces (or as many pies as you plan to bake) and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.
3. Cut dough into rounds that are about 1 1/2 inches larger in diameter than your bowls to ensure a lovely overhand.
4. Brush a little of the beaten egg onto the edges of the bowls and place dough rounds over the filling, pressing slightly to adhere to the bowl. Repeat with remaining bowls.
5. Brush the tops of the pies with the egg wash (if desired, use any scraps to make decorative leaves or whatever you prefer to adorn.)
6. Place the pies on large cookie sheets lines with aluminum foil (to prevent leakage or fallen crusts) and bake the pies at 375 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
7. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.