Making the perfect chicken pot pie is not difficult, but it isn’t exactly a piece of cake either (sorry for the bad pun). This recipe 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 four iterations, my recipe is tastier. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
1 lb bone-in chicken breast
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)
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup 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 water. 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.
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 a large bowl, then cook the potatoes in the same pan until just tender. Remove with a slotted spoon, and add to the carrots. 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 carrots and potatoes. Add the torn chicken meat, 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. 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 a medium clean saucepan. Over medium heat, melt the 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. Remove from heat, season generously with salt and pepper and add the other half of the chopped herbs.
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. Add all of the seasoned vegetables and chicken mixture and spread evenly. Pour the béchamel over the veggies evenly. Brush the outermost edge of the bottom pie crust with the beaten egg and 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 slit 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. Slide into wedges and enjoy your perfect chicken pot pie!