One of my favorite comfort foods to make is a plain old roast chicken, and it provides enough leftovers for a couple of other meals and bones for soup stock too. I usually use the leftover meat for sandwiches, or in a rice and vegetable casserole. But it was high time I made chicken pot pie, a meal my husband loves, but one I hadn’t made in decades. Homemade chicken pot pie is head and shoulders above anything you can buy from the store, not only because you can add more meat than most commercially prepared pot pies include, but also because you can choose what vegetables you want, and the amount of sauce used to bind everything together. Here I’ve used the classic combinations of carrots, celery and peas, eliminating the potato but adding leeks and shallot. You can choose to add or delete whatever vegetables you want — artichoke hearts, broccoli, mushrooms – whatever you like or what’s on hand.
I sautéed the leeks, shallot and celery first, and parboiled the carrots just a little. They’ll cook more in the pie, so you don’t want them to be completely cooked through initially.
Add them in a bowl to the chicken with the carrots. I used small peas straight from the freezer. No need to cook first. Season everything well with salt, pepper and add parsley and/or thyme.
Next, add the béchamel sauce – made by cooking a bit of flour in butter, and adding milk and chicken stock. If you want, feel free to add some grated parmesan, gruyere or other cheese of your liking. I didn’t and we didn’t miss the cheese or heavy cream that some recipes call for. If you want more sauce, increase the quantities in the béchamel, but I don’t like a gloppy pot pie, so I prefer to go easy on the sauce and make just enough béchamel to bind everything together.
Stir everything together until all is lightly coated with the sauce.
I eliminated a bottom crust (it never bakes as crispy as I’d like). I also used individual buttered casseroles, but you can put yours in a pie plate if you like. Top with a small pat of butter. If you want to use a traditional pie plate, double this recipe to get a nice, full pot pie.
I used purchased pie crusts to cut down on the work, but of course, homemade is always best. This crust from Trader Joe’s however, is really good, even though it can easily break while you’re opening from the cellophane, even after it’s thawed completely from the freezer. If that happens, just press the pieces together. Lay your casseroles over the crust, and cut a pattern that’s slightly larger than your casserole, to allow for crimping the edges.
Place the dough over the casseroles, tuck the edges under and crimp using your thumb and forefinger, then prick some holes on the top and brush with beaten egg.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown all over. If they seem to be browning too quickly, cover them with foil.
I had some some leftover chicken skin from the roast chicken, so I crisped it up a bit further in the oven, and added that to the top of my husband’s pie.
Dig in and enjoy some leftover goodness. You don’t even have to roast a chicken and wait for leftovers if you’re not up for it. Buy a rotisserie chicken from the store instead and get a head start.
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- Your favorite purchased or homemade pie pastry (I used Trader Joe's)
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- ½ cup sliced leeks
- 1 shallot, minced
- ½ cup celery, minced
- 1 cup carrots, cut into small pieces
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 2 cups cooked chicken, cut into chunks
- minced parsley (or thyme)
- salt, pepper to taste
- 2 pats of butter
- FOR THE BECHAMEL SAUCE:
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ½ cup milk
- 1 beaten egg, to swish over the top of pastry
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Saute the leeks, shallot and celery in the 2 tablespoons of butter until everything is wilted.
- Place the cooked vegetables in a bowl.
- Boil the carrot pieces but don't cook completely through.
- Drain and add to the other vegetables in the bowl.
- Add the chicken pieces and the parsley to the vegetables and season everything well with salt and pepper.
- Make the béchamel sauce by melted the butter, adding the flour and stirring with a whisk, then adding the chicken stock and whisking thoroughly.
- Add the milk and whisk until perfectly smooth.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and mix thoroughly.
- Into two buttered casseroles, place the chicken and vegetables mixture.
- Top with a pat of butter.
- Cut pieces of the pastry slighly larger than the casserole you're using.
- Arrange the pastry on top, turning under the edges and crimping them.
- Using a fork, prick the top to allow steam to escape.
- Brush the top with beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.