Chicken Pot Pie and backyard friends

Cooler temps and falling leaves inspire me want to make yummy comfort food! I think this Chicken Pot Pie fits the bill. It’s full of vegetables, rich and hearty, and makes for a pretty main course if you are having guests over, or want to make a special meal for your family.

I did everything from scratch for the Pot Pie, including the pie crust, but you could easily save time by using store-bought pie crust. Nothing wrong with that at all. A few weeks ago, I made Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken. I used some of the leftover chicken for this pot pie and it turned out wonderful. If you don’t have leftover chicken, you could just roast a few chicken breasts or thighs, whatever is your favorite in the oven lightly drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Just bake them in the oven at 425 degrees or so until they are done. I like the crispy skin in this dish, but you could also use skinless for a healthier option. You could also cook the chicken in water on the stove and use the leftover water to help make some stock either for this dish or another dish. Another way to save time with this dish is to divide up the prep work. You could wash and chop up the carrots and celery the day or so ahead it would keep in the fridge for a few days in baggies. If you choose to make your crust from scratch, this could be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge or even thawed if frozen.

I will admit that this recipe did take a little long to make from start to finish, but again, I made the crust the same day, chopped all the veggies the same day, and chose to do a little fancier lattice top on the pot pie. You could simplify it by skipping the lattice and just sticking with a regular top. If I had a leaf cookie cutter, I would have just cut out a bunch of leaves with the crust dough and just arranged them on the top. I can’t believe I don’t own a leaf cookie cutter! As I searched through my collection of cookie cutters, I have a lot of Halloween, a few Christmas ones, a dog bone, and my favorite – a squirrel. This reminds me – I don’t think I’ve told you guys about my love of squirrels! I searched my posts and I’ve mentioned them a couple of times, but I don’t think I’ve shared my fondness for this one particular squirrel. I know they are rodents and can cause all kinds of havoc in attics and wiring, climb up into car engines and make all kinds of mass destruction (not that my cousin Em knows anything about that) 🙂 But, I’ve always had a little thing for my squirrel friends. I remember when I first moved to Milwaukee, I was wondering why their squirrels looked so puny. All over campus were these little grey squirrels with thin little tails. They looked miniature compared to the big fat, well fed red and brown squirrels I had grown up with back home. I’ll add that I get my love of squirrels from my mom and dad. They feed their little critters well. Very well! When they come up to visit us, my dad usually brings me ears of field corn just for my little critters. He built me a squirrel house and feeder as a Christmas gift a few years back. Best Gift Ever! Since it’s pretty wooded behind our house and we have a few trees, we usually have a handful of squirrels running around our yard, mocking the dogs and snickering at them from above. I watch the little tiny baby squirrels who chatter and watch their mamma scare off the ground squirrels who try to get their share of the food. While driving the girls to school over the last few years, I noticed a black squirrel at a particular house. I had never seen a black squirrel before. I researched and learned that they are in this area, Michigan, as well as a few other parts of the country. According to some websites, a number of them were purposely placed on Michigan State University’s campus to help lower the population of red squirrels. Everyday when I passed by this house, I would look for this black squirrel and hoped to one day get a picture of it. One day a black squirrel showed up in our yard. I was not home, but my husband who knows I’m a little nutty for squirrels and had heard me go on and on about the silly black squirrel knew I’d be excited so he took a picture of it and sent it to me. It was blurry, but it was there enjoying some nibbles from my squirrel feeder. I wondered if it was the same black squirrel that I had passed by every day! Had he hitched a ride on my car and found himself in our yard? HA!  I told my friends about this black squirrel and how excited I was to have it in my yard. They quickly educated me about these black squirrels. I guess they are bullies and will chase off all my other squirrels in the yard. Well, I didn’t want that to happen. When I got home, the black squirrel was no where in sight. I never saw it in our yard and it was a week or so before my familiar faced squirrels made a reappearance. I think that mysterious black squirrel really was a bully and scared them into hiding. Sadly one day as I passed by the house, I saw the black squirrel had been hit by a car and was still in the road in front of that house. Poor little bully! I guess I’ll never know if it was the same one that visited our house and I’m content to stick with my friendly little backyard friends.

Chicken Pot Pie

This makes enough for one 9 x 13 sized pan, plus maybe more for a smaller extra.

Ingredients:

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For the Pie Crust:

1 1/2 C shortening (you could also use lard)

5 C All Purpose Flour

1 C cold water

 

Pie Crust recipe above, or 4 premade crusts.

1 TBS Olive oil

1 pound cooked chicken, chopped or shredded

16-20 oz bag of frozen veggies. I like a peas and carrots combo.

2 stalks of celery – washed and chopped

1 large onion – diced

2-3 garlic cloves – minced

4 C chicken broth

1 C milk

1/2 C heavy cream

1/2 C butter

1/2 C All Purpose Flour

1 1/2 teas fresh Thyme

1/2 teas salt

1/2 teas fresh ground black pepper

One beaten egg

Directions:

If making your own pie crust: Combine the flour and cut in the shortening with pastry cutter or fork until combined.

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Slowly add in the cold water and mix just until combined and dough forms. Add a bit more flour or water until dough is soft and pliable and a bit sticky but not too wet.

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Divide into two equal balls and cover each ball with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Can be done a day ahead if needed.

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For the Pot Pie filling:

Add oil and butter to a large pot over medium heat and add in diced onion. Saute onion for a few minutes until translucent. Stir in the minced garlic.

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Add in the flour and stir continuously to form a roux. Stir the roux for a few minutes on medium heat until light golden color. Season with salt and pepper.

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Slowly add in the chicken broth and stir until all incorporated.

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Slowly add in the milk and heavy cream and stir until all incorporated to make your sauce.

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Add the bag of frozen veggies (uncooked) into your sauce.

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Stir in chopped celery and cooked chicken.

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Add in fresh thyme, leaving some for topping.

Adjust seasonings to taste and turn off heat.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take pie dough out of fridge and roll one ball out on a lightly floured surface until thin and rectangular shape.

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Roll up lengthwise

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and gently unroll in your lightly greased 9 x 13 oven safe baking dish. Keep extra dough hanging over sides, you can take care of this later.

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Pour your pot pie filling into the dough lined baking dish. You may have extra filling, just set it aside for later.

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Roll out your second pie dough ball into rectangular shape. You could just keep a solid top, form a lattice or design, or use cookie cutter or knife to cut out shapes if you like. Whatever you decide, make sure there are vents or holes so the steam can escape.

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I am not a pie maker and definitely not the best at working with pie dough or making lattice with dough. I decided it would be less sloppy if I made the lattice first and then transferred it to the pot pie. This worked pretty well, but next time, I’ll have some long wooden spoons or something under it to help me transfer it.

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Pinch the edges together, crimp if desired. Cut off excess dough around edge.

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It’s a little “rustic” looking. Yeah, that’s what I was going for! wink wink!

Brush the beaten egg over top of the pot pie and lightly sprinkle with a little fresh thyme, salt and pepper.

 

Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes uncovered. This browns the top. Then cover with foil and continue to bake for another 30 minutes. I recommend having a pan underneath to catch any overspills.

Remove from oven, keep covered, and let set up for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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If you have extra filling and pie dough scraps, you can make a second pot pie to give to a friend or neighbor. You could also make one to freeze. I had just enough for a pie sized extra one so I just made it with a simple top and stuck it in the freezer (unbaked). I also put it in a disposable foil pie pan, covered with foil and into a gallon size freezer bag. I avoid placing glass in the freezer and especially cold or frozen glass into the oven. When I want to make it, I’ll just take it directly from the freezer, brush with egg, and bake as usual. It may take a little longer, but same concept.

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Here’s my unbaked pie shaped pot pie for the freezer.

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Here’s my baked pot pie, ready to serve.

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Just because I didn’t get enough peas from the pot pie, I decided to serve more as a side dish.

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Enjoy!


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