Say you didn’t listen to me. Say you disregarded my warning and made stock anyway. Or say you just like to cook and want to put the leftover chicken to use in a really cool way. I love chicken pot pies. I grew up eating frozen ones and all I remember is the nasty peas and the fact that chicken pot pie for dinner meant mom and dad were going out for the evening (my dad was a classic ad man, creative director, and even resembled Jon Hamm as much as my mom resembled January Jones—still does in fact!). Suburban sixties.
But now I know how fabulous a chicken pot pie can be if you do it yourself. And you don’t have to add peas if you don’t want. I make a buttery crust (3-2-1 pie dough), thicken the stock with roux, add onions, mushrooms and some extra boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut up and sauteed or roasted first. Easy as pie. When I was working on the pie dough chapter in Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, I made these individual pies, and they were so good, I’d have served them to company expecting the finest foie gras. The fact that they can be done ahead makes them even more appealing for serving to friends. When was the last time you had a hot savory pie?
Maybe they’re coming back. Thomas Keller and Ad Hoc chef Dave Cruz put one in the new Ad Hoc At Home cookbook. I love my loop handled dishes but you could make individual ones in large ramekins or a large one in a stainless steel saute pan. I don’t usually measure, but for four people and four pies or one regular sized pie for six people, you’ll need about three cups of stock (one chicken carcass should give you four cups) or milk, either works great, a couple cups of cooked chicken and whatever vegetables you like (onions are a must, I happen to like celery in them, but everything else, carrots, potatoes, is up to you; or see Ad Hoc for Keller/Cruz recipe). Thicken the milk or stock with roux (a few tablespoons of flour and butter), add the meat and vegetables, simmer if for ten minutes and take it off the heat. Meanwhile, roll out your pie dough (8 ounces butter cut into 12 ounces of flour, a half cup of ice water or just enough to bring it all together). If you’re making these ahead of time, cool the filling completely before finishing the pies. Fill your shells, put a dough lid on them, and bake at 425 for a half hour or till the crust is golden brown, or an hour at 375 if baking it cold. Brush it with egg wash toward the end for a gorgeous finish.