chicken (or turkey) pot pies, part 2

Originally, I intended to post a delicious recipe from the new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, but Thanksgiving is around the corner and, even though I work on the holiday each year, I thought it might be helpful to give you a couple of ideas for leftovers.

I understand making family recipes.  I really do.  You may want to continue a tradition with your family or evoke a memory from your childhood.  Sometimes, though, a recipe cries out for a do-over.  That is the case with this green bean casserole recipe that I wrote about last year.  Made with fresh green beans, mushrooms and onions…oh my goodness, Alton Brown’s recipe is totally worth foregoing the cream of mushroom soup forever!

I prefer to make these pot pies with turkey (specifically, smoked turkey), but since I won’t have holiday leftovers, I decided to spend a recent cold, rainy-turned-to-hail day in the kitchen making these with chicken breast.  I’m not going to lie, they are labor intensive.  Lots of peeling and chopping.  So as long as I’m at it, I double the recipe and make four 9-inch pies to freeze.

I decided to re-post this recipe because I’ve tweaked it a bit…and you can, too.

Don’t have fresh Rosemary?  don’t worry about it.

Prefer white potatoes over sweet potatoes?  So do my kids…interchange them.  Or leave potatoes out altogether.

Also…surprise!  I buy the pie crust from Trader Joe’s pre-made.  That’s right…pre-packaged pie crusts.  There’s enough work involved here, so go easy on yourself.  Buy pie crusts.

You’ll be glad on one of those wintry, snowy nights when you can pull these out of the freezer, brush a little egg yolk on the crust and bake yourself a hearty dinner of aromatic chicken with broth and vegetables.

chicken or turkey pot pies (makes two 9-inch pies)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (or you can substitute 1 pound, more or less, of cooked turkey)

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 large onions, chopped

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

2 large sweet or russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 cups low fat milk

1 10-ounce package frozen peas (when I double the recipe, I don’t double the peas…it’s a husband thing)

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

2 Tbsp fresh rosemary

2 9-inch store-bought pie crusts

1 box puff pastry sheets, thawed

4 9-inch disposable pie pans (double them up for strength)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Poach your chicken:  place chicken, if using instead of cooked turkey, in a large stockpot and cover with water.  Bring to a simmer and cook until cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Cook potatoes:  add potatoes to a medium saucepan.  Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and drain.

While chicken is cooling, heat olive oil in the same pan you cooked the chicken.  Add onions, celery, and carrots and cook, until they begin to soften, stirring often, about 6-8 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, while continuing to stir, for another minute.  Add chicken stock and cook until some of the stock evaporates, about 5 minutes.  Add the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Shred the chicken and stir into the vegetable/stock mixture.  Stir in the peas, thyme, rosemary, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper.  Gently fold in the potatoes last.  Taste.  Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Lay one pie crust in each of your doubled pie tins and shape the crust to the pan, trimming the crust slightly if necessary, allowing it to slightly hang over the edge of the pan as it will shrink during baking.

Divide your filling between the prepared pans.  Place one piece of the thawed puff pastry over each pie, pushing down slightly around the edges to form a seal (I like to leave some puff pastry to hang over the edge).  It may be necessary to, again, trim the puff pastry a bit because it is rectangular.  Cut 3 slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

If baking immediately, brush top crust with one egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp water.  Place in preheated oven and bake until crust is golden, about 35-40 minutes.

If freezing, place in freezer until frozen, about 4-5 hours.  Remove and wrap tightly with aluminum foil before returning to the freezer.  Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking.

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