Despite my husband’s lack of enthusiasm for cold weather approaching, he does excited for the presence of chicken pot pie at the dinner table during the fall and winter seasons. In fact, I’ll quote him,
“Yessss, pot pie is back!!”
This may be one of my favorite recipes of all time, and it tops the charts for comfort food on a cold day. It is also my go-to recipe for using up Thanksgiving leftovers (swapping out chicken for turkey, of course). I even use the leftover gravy from Thanksgiving in addition to the roux and chicken broth gravy base to this dish (about one part leftover Thanksgiving gravy and one part gravy made from this recipe). Homemade leftover gravy on Thanksgiving cannot and will not be wasted in this household! I purposely make too much because no one should be without gravy on Thanksgiving! Besides, I certainly want to have leftovers of both turkey and gravy to use in this pot pie recipe. The real winning factor with this “Thanksgiving Leftovers” theme is that the filling can be made and then frozen in a baking dish. Then all you have to do is pull it out of the freezer, thaw overnight and whip up the biscuit topping, which seriously takes two minutes max.
Cheers to comfort food!
CHICKEN POT PIE
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
BAKE TIME: 45 minutes
POT PIE FILLING INGREDIENTS
- 14 chicken tenderloins, cooked and shredded
- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) of unsalted butter
- 2 onions, chopped (red or yellow, your preference)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ cups flour
- 5 cups of chicken broth
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes (or 1 teaspoon of chicken base)
- 4 large red potatoes chopped, peeled or unpeeled-your preference
- 1 (10-ounce) bag of frozen crinkle cut carrots or 2 cups sliced fresh carrots (whatever you have on hand)
- 1 (10-ounce) bag of frozen peas
- ¼ cup of heavy cream
BISCUIT TOPPING INGREDIENTS
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 ½ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
Notes about cooking options for chicken:
- Poach Thawed or Even Frozen Chicken: If you’re totally pressed for time (which is always!) and don’t want to marinate the chicken for grilling or baking, poaching is a fabulous option (my favorite because it’s all in one pot this way—less dirty dishes!). Just poach the chicken in the onion, roux and chicken broth base (the gravy, basically). Bring the gravy to a low simmer (before adding any potatoes or carrots), and submerge cold chicken breast tenderloins. Cover with lid and leave at medium heat or a low simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. Now if you really have not planned this out in advance whatsoever and have frozen chicken breast tenderloins, use the same poaching method, but simmer for a total of 30 minutes instead.
- Grill Chicken: Marinate chicken tenderloins in buttermilk with some salt and pepper for 30 minutes. (If weather is permitting, I usually prefer grilling because it’s one less pan to clean up and I can then multitask by cooking the potatoes and carrots in the pot pie base on the stove while grilling the chicken instead of poaching the chicken and then cooking the veggies in the same pot. But let’s face it, this is a fall/winter dish and it’s usually too windy or snowy for grilling in Nebraska.) Heat grill on high until it reaches 400 degrees so that chicken doesn’t stick. Transfer chicken to grill and then lower heat to medium high and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until cooked through. Let the chicken rest for at least 5 minutes before shredding it.
- Bake Chicken: Marinate chicken tenderloins in buttermilk with some salt and pepper for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.
- Tricks for testing doneness with chicken: Test chicken doneness by pressing lightly on center—if it resists or bounces back slightly than it is most likely done, but if it presses in and remains sunken in, then continue cooking. I use this method for checking chicken’s doneness and it’s practically foolproof. As long as the chicken isn’t floppy but rather stiffer in appearance, then it’s probably good to go. Once the chicken has cooled for at least five minutes, shred it and set aside.
To make pot pie filling:
Sauté onions with butter, salt and pepper until translucent and onions are softened. Add flour and stir constantly for about five minutes to cook out the flour flavor. You’re making a roux or a thickener for your sauce. Now add the chicken broth about ½ cup at a time to slowly incorporate it into your roux. If you add it too quickly, you’ll get clumps in your sauce. Once you’ve poured in all the broth, add the chicken bouillon cubes.
If you’re going to poach the chicken as a cooking option, now is the time to bring the gravy to a low simmer and submerge chicken. (See note above under cooking options for chicken).
After poached chicken has been removed from pot, add in chopped potatoes and carrots. Bring to a boil (while you’re waiting for it to boil, continue to stir now and then so that bits of your thickened sauce don’t stick to the bottom of the pan). Once it’s bubbling, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
While your potatoes and carrots are simmering, gather the biscuit topping ingredients. (See note about biscuit topping quantity below.)
Make biscuit topping. Stir melted butter and milk. Add dry ingredients and mix.
Finish up the filling! Once potatoes and carrots are fork tender, turn off the heat and add the frozen peas first (to bring down the temperature of the filling) and then the shredded chicken and heavy cream. Transfer pot pie filling evenly among your baking dishes. Distribute the biscuit topping . . . generously (I prefer this biscuit topping over the traditional pie pastry any day).
Bake at 375 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes.
Let cool for five minutes and enjoy!
Note about biscuit topping: The biscuit topping makes enough to cover an 8 x 8” baking dish. The chicken pot pie filling makes about one 9 x 12 inch pan and one 8 x 8 inch pan worth or three small pans. A triple batch of biscuit topping is necessary if you plan on baking the full recipe of pot pie in one sitting. I have a family of four, so what I usually do is freeze about half or one-third of the filling in a baking dish.
Note about freezing half of the filling: If I anticipate a busy or lazy day (I wish for lazy, but usually bank on being busy), I can pull it out of the freezer, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and just make the biscuit topping for an ultra comforting meal with minimal effort. However, the baking time changes slightly because the filling will be cold from refrigeration. Cover the chilled filling (without biscuit topping) in the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Then add the biscuit topping and bake uncovered for an additional 40 minutes.
I totally meant to snap a shot of this recipe beautifully plated, but I sort of gobbled half of my helping before I remembered. You get the picture, right? I’ll get better at blogging eventually. Note to self: Remember to take pictures of delicious dishes before devouring.