Monday, December 13, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie with a Crown of Puff Pastry

A great way to use up leftover roast chicken is to make a delicious and comforting Chicken Pot Pie. Taking advantage of store bought puff pastry makes the process even easier. The filling can be prepared in advance with any vegetables you have on hand, but I like to use diced potatoes, carrots and celery with a handful of green peas and blanched pearl onions which are sautéed in butter until tender. A rich thick creamy sauce is what brings the whole thing together, so it's important to taste for seasoning as you go along, adjusting the flavour to suit your palate. I like to use a cup of madeira or cognac for extra depth of flavour and a dash of cayenne pepper for some heat. 

Chicken Pot Pie can be prepared in a deep-dish pie plate or ladled into smaller ramekins for elegant single servings. The final flourish is fitting a round of puff pastry dough on top of each serving dish and with the excess pastry, decorating the tops with cut out shapes, and finally brushing the tops with an egg wash. The result is fabulous! A bubbling homemade chicken pot pie capped with a handsome crown of golden puff pastry.

Don't throw away any pastry scraps though, just toss them with a little parmesan cheese, a sprinkling of herbes de provence and twist them into bite size cheese straws. Bake them in the oven with the chicken pie and presto — a plate of tasty little appetizers

Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry 
Serves 6-8

1 sheet frozen Puff Pastry
, thawed
5 tbsp all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

5 tbsp unsalted butter

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, sliced into 1/2" pieces
15 pearl onions
12 oz cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Madeira or Cognac
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup whole milk or cream

5 cups cooked chicken, torn into bite-sized pieces

1 cup frozen green peas

2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp herbes de provence
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 tsp coarse salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Egg wash:
1 large egg

2 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large heavy-bottom pot, melt 5 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and carrots are fork-tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. 

Meanwhile, trim the bottoms off the pearl onions and blanch in a small pot of boiling water, about 3-4 minutes. Rinse with cold water, remove outer skin, and set aside. 

Add mushrooms, celery and garlic to the potato mixture, and cook until the mushrooms are heated through. Add Madeira, or cognac, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring to thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Pour in chicken stock, milk and pearl onions. Bring to a simmer; cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add some more flour if you like a thicker 'gravy'. Stir in chicken, peas, parsley, thyme, herbes de provence and cayenne. Taste and season generously with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer filling to your deep-dish pie plate or individual ramekins. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. 

On a lightly floured surface, rollout the puff pastry about 2" larger than the top of the baking dish. Place over the dish and trim leaving a 1/2" overhang, reserving excess pastry. Press overhang into and over edge. With a fork, whisk egg and milk; brush over pastry. Use excess pastry to cut out shapes and place on top. Brush egg mixture over pastry. Cut 5 or 6 steam vents into the top of the pastry using a small sharp knife.

Transfer casserole to a parchment-lined baking sheet, to catch any boil-over. Bake 30-40 minutes until pastry is golden brown. Cover the edges loosely with aluminum foil to prevent the crust edges from burning, if necessary. Serve hot. 

Cook's Note: I used half of this recipe for one pie and froze the other half. All you'll need is a sheet of puff pastry, and you'll have a second chicken pot pie in no time at all.