Making the perfect chicken pot pie is not difficult, but it isn’t exactly a piece of cake either (sorry for the bad pun). Although this recipe has a lot of ingredients, it is straightforward, and has an absolutely mouthwateringly delicious result. You’ll want to make this every Sunday! I started out using Thomas Keller’s recipe from the Ad Hoc At Home cookbook, which is one of my most often used cookbooks. As great a chef as Keller is, I have to say that after years of perfecting this recipe, I can honestly say mine is tastier. I hope you enjoy this version of chicken pot pie as much as we do!
1 lb bone-in chicken breast
3-4 cups low sodium chicken broth (enough to cover the breast while cooking)
4 bay leaves
20 whole black peppercorns
1 tsp salt
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 lb red skinned potatoes (skin on), cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 leeks, white parts sliced thinly
1 Tbsp butter
2 large stalks celery, cut into 1/4″ slices
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme, plus 4-5 whole sprigs
3 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley, plus 4-5 whole sprigs
3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
15-20 pre-cooked pearl onions (found in the frozen foods section and thawed)
5 Tbsp butter, divided
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup of previously made chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt & pepper to taste
2 pie crusts, unbaked (one for the bottom, and one for the top)
1 egg beaten
Put the whole chicken breast(s) in a saucepan and cover with the broth (how much you use will depend on the size of your pan). [Note: cooking chicken in chicken broth may seem redundant, but once you reduce the remaining broth, it has a lovely strong chicken-y flavor that adds a lot of depth to the bechamel sauce.] Add 2 of the bay leaves, 10 peppercorns, salt as well as 2 sprigs of parsley and 2 sprigs of thyme. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove and set aside to cool. Turn up the heat and simmer the broth until reduced to about 1.5 cups. Strain the broth and set aside. When the chicken is cool enough, remove the meat from the bone, and tear into bite sized chunks, putting it into a very large bowl.
While the chicken is cooling and the broth reducing, bring about 3″ of water to a boil in a separate saucepan, along with the remaining 2 bay leaves, 10 peppercorns, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 2 sprigs of parsley. Cook the carrots in the water until just barely tender. Remove with a slotted spoon to the same bowl with the chicken, then cook the potatoes in the same pot until just tender. Remove with a slotted spoon, and add to the carrots and chicken. In a skillet, melt 1 Tbsp of butter over medium heat. When melted, add the leeks and sauté for 4-5 minutes until tender. Add the leeks to the bowl with the chicken, carrots and potatoes. Add the celery, and half of the chopped herbs to the same bowl, and mix well. Take the pearl onions, and place between several sheets of paper towels, roll and press to remove excess moisture. This is necessary, or your sauce will be a bit soupy after the pie is baked. Sauté them briefly in the leftover butter in from sautéing the leeks until they are just starting to brown. Add the onions to the bowl with the chicken and vegetables. Season the mixture with salt & pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Make the béchamel in the same saucepan as you cooked the chicken (no need to clean it). Over medium heat, melt the remaining 3 Tbsp of butter in the pan. When fully melted, add the flour and mix well, whisking constantly, and cook for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour. Lower heat if needed to ensure the mixture does not brown. While continuing to whisk, gradually add the milk, wine and measure out 1/2 cup of the reduced broth you set aside earlier (reserve the remaining broth for another use — it’s delicious!). Continue whisking while the sauce cooks and thickens. Bring to a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring often, until reduced to 2 cups. This should take about 30 minutes. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, season generously with salt and pepper and add the other half of the chopped herbs. Allow the sauce to cool until warm, but no longer hot, and mix it into the chicken and vegetables until all are coated nicely with the béchamel.
Roll out one of the pie crusts to a circle 2″ larger than a 9″ or 10″ pie plate (to have a large enough crust to cover the bottom and sides of the pie plate). Place the dough in the bottom of the pie plate, and trim anything hanging over the edge. Prick the bottom with a fork. Add all of the seasoned vegetables and chicken mixture and spread evenly. Top the pie with the second rolled out pie crust. Fold the edge of the top crust around the edge of the bottom crust and pinch to seal all the way around. Brush the top crust gently with the beaten egg. Cut a few slits in the pie crust to release steam as it cooks.
Bake the pot pie for 50-60 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned. Remove from oven, and allow to rest 10 minutes. Slice into wedges and enjoy your perfect chicken pot pie!