Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Perfect Pot Pie (With Chicken, Sherry, & Hope)

Before you read the following recipe, I will tell you this: forget everything you know about chicken pot pie, or all pies of the potted variety, for that matter. This is not like any frozen, salty, sad-bastard chicken pot pie you've ever eaten, or like that bland, faintly gray, federal-institution chicken pot slop. This is not your mother's chicken pot pie. (Well, maybe it is. I don't really know your mother, but I'm sure she's lovely.)

This chicken pot pie is the epitome of comfort food, filled with a tender vegetables and shredded chicken in a creamy sauce, a sauce redolent with thyme and garlic and sherry, baked under a golden, buttery pie crust. Though homey and simple and affordable, this chicken pot pie is good enough for company, visiting heads of state, and/or Barack Obama. This is the Platonic ideal of chicken pot pie. This is Chicken Pot Pie, big C, double big P.

Are you in? Good. Let's make some potted magic.

(I'm going to present this with minimal measurements because, honestly, there is so much room for error and personal taste here. Obsessive measurements suck all the joy out of cooking, don't you think? If you must have fiddly, anal retentive measuring, clearly you should be baking. A cake. For me.)

First up, we have some carrots. How many? About this many:

Six or seven small carrots. Scrub them, halve them lengthwise, and then chop them into little half-moons.

Next, finely chop one large sweet onion or two small yellow onions.

Then cut up some celery, just one or two ribs.

After melting about 1/2 stick of butter in a large dutch oven or stock pot, add all your vegetables. Pretty. And cheap. Saute until all the vegetables are soft and tender, about six minutes. Now mince about three cloves of garlic...

...and a heaping tablespoon of fresh thyme and add both to the pot. Cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.

Now it's time to create an exciting, roux-type scenario. Add 1/2 cup of flour, stir, and you get this:

...delicious, paste-coated veggies. Continue stirring and cooking this for about one minute, or until the flour is lightly toasted. Now, we shall deglaze! The excitement!

Grab some cooking sherry. Honestly, you can go with the inexpensive stuff without a problem. (Unless Barack Obama is coming. In that case, go top shelf.) I use this brand:

And, with all apologies to the good people at Fairbanks, this is some cheap-ass sherry, about five dollars a bottle. (In keeping with the BeanPlate Code of Thrift, we'll be passing along some more recipes that use the same sherry. Waste not!)

Pour 3/4 cup of sherry into your pot, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom.

Now, slowly stir in 1/4 cup half & half (or whole milk)...

..and 2 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth...

..and two bays leaves and fresh ground pepper and salt to taste. Simmer the filling for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until noticeably thickened.

Now, fetch about 3 pounds of that fully-cooked, boneless, skinless, organic, free-range, chicken breast meat you prepared yesterday in between re-grouting the tub and coating assorted gourds with crystalline Bavarian fairy wings. Yes, that chicken. Add it to the filling and cook until the chicken is warm.

Pull out your bay leaves and try to resist licking them.

Add about 1 cup of frozen green peas the the hot mixture. IMPORTANT: do not use canned green peas. Canned peas will not make sweet, sweet, pot pie love with your mouth and should be avoided at all costs. No canned peas, Obama or not.

At this point, I also like to add a few tablespoons of chopped parsley for color. If you are one of those people who find parsley offensive, feel free to omit, but know that I am a little suspicious of you. Spread the hot filling into a large-ish (about 9x13) baking dish.

I think this is the "potted" part, right?

You can top the hot filling with either one pie crust (a refrigerated crust will work great, but homemade is practically free if you have the time) or a sheet of phyllo dough. That's phyllo in the finished photo, but I personally prefer the plain old pie crust to the phyllo, even if it does look gourmet and flaky and fahncy. Another note: make sure the filling is piping hot when you top it, otherwise you'll end up with a gummy crust.

Pop your potted pie into a 425 degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. The crust will be brown, the filling will be bubbly, approximately eight people will be comforted. And be sure to let it stand for about 5 minutes before serving the future President, won't you?

Oh, yeaaah. And there you have it...

from across the room
...pot pie we can ALL believe in.


  1. Beautiful. I have a spoon-on crust, if you are interested.

  2. yes, please post the spoon on crust. i'd like to see all options. :)

  3. this looks fantastic. I came over here on Mrs. G's recommendation, and I'm thrilled to have a new site for food inspiration.

  4. Your recipes are SO MUCH PRETTIER than mine. I keep a cooking blog, too, but I don't take nearly as many (nor as pretty) pictures. You inspire me to be a better cooking blogger (and, not for nothing, to post my grandmother's pot pie recipe. It's pretty close to yours, but mine's got some family history (and, not for nothin', a biscuit topping...)

    I'll be back!

  5. Very appropriate for post-election: "A Chicken in Every Pot!"

    Just discovered you from Mrs. G at Derfwad Manor. You're on my list of favs now. Keep cooking!

  6. Suburbancorrespondent: do share! Sounds lovely.

    The whole idea behind this blog is the exchange of recipes and ideas and kitchen secrets that used to be passed from generation to generation. Sharing is encouraged and appreciated!

  7. I used this very recipe, plucked from your blog, a couple of weeks ago.

    It is soul food, pure and simple.

  8. This looks DELICIOUS! I just e-mailed the link to my husband so he can get the chicken cooked and go to the store!

  9. Oh yum.
    Guess what I'll be making tonight? It's a cold rainy Spring day today (rain is good in a drought, so I'm not complaining) and this will be perfect for dinner.

  10. Love the new site Melanie. I'm going to share this with my budget conscious home-girlz (which is just about everyone i know).

  11. Too funny that I found out about your new place at Mrs. G's and I commented that your "chicken pot pie was to die for!"...and then I come over and, well, hell, missy...there it is!!!
    Love this...and I'm looking forward to more recipes. I do find that I have to improvise sometimes (grated cheese, for example...we don't have 'block cheese', well...we do, but..I need to buy gas for the car instead! So I just use the cheese I can get! it's still good!!) but it's nice to have good recipes to use.

  12. hiya--I made this, people, and I'm here to testify that it was gooooooood.

  13. This looks fantastic - I can't wait to try it. I'm wondering about possibly a sheet of puff pastry for the top - I don't really dig phyllo, but want a little more pizzazz than plain pie crust. Think that would work ok?

  14. Nummy! The Matron will give this one a go, because Barack Obama ate here!

  15. I must try this! Hubby lubs it. I don't .. b/c I've only had the sad, boxed, frozen variety. Poor me, huh?

  16. I made this yesterday, it was scrump-delyicious! Thanks for sharing it. I have been needing some new ideas for dinner for my family so I was happy to find your blog at Derfwad Manor. I love the step by step pictures. They are gorgeous and they help a "cooking-challenged" person like me!

  17. I can't wait to make this. And, being the total visual learner that I am, can I just say a mighty, mighty THANK YOU for such spot-on photos?!

    You constantly make me happy that there are people like you in the world. You and Mrs. G. do a damn fine job of taking care of us, both physically and emotionally.

  18. This looks delicious- I plan to make it just as soon as my oven gets fixed. It's on the blink right now!

  19. Can you add a printer friendly link for your pot pie? My husband LOVES pot pie and I would love to make this for him!

  20. I second the request for printable version ~ looks yummy (the pot pie, not the printable version).

  21. Mine's in the oven right now! I don't cook, but this looked easy! I'll let you know how it comes out.

  22. I'll try to get a printable version up ASAP! I usually just eye-ball everything since the pot pie is a forgiving thing.

  23. This was awesome. I halved the recipe and my husband and I ate the whole thing for dinner tonight. I didn't have cooking sherry so I used white wine and it still turned out amazing. Please keep the great recipes coming.

  24. Your blog informations is a very useful.

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  26. i LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe. i've made it three times. so easy. i LOVE it. my sister loves potatoes, so i chop up a potato or two and mix that in with the veggies.

    i love it. i can't wait for cooler weather so i can make it again!!

  27. my nephews love it, too. i made two pans when they were over one weekend. it was gone in that weekend. lunch, dinner, SO good!