Sunday, 14 January 2018

Chicken and Leek Pot Pie with Parmesan Thyme Crust

Chicken pot pie is a comfort food, at least in our house. It's something we both grew up with. The chunks of chicken and vegetables, paired with a creamy sauce, all covered with a crisp golden pastry are a perfect combination of tastes and textures.

My mission to use everything in the freezer before buying more meat is almost completed, and I had 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs to use. I would normally use chicken breast, or leftover roast chicken for this recipe, but used the thighs as pot pie is what we both wanted.

Instead of onion, I used the large leek that was in the fridge, as well as the last stalk of celery, and the chicken stock and pastry from the freezer. When I took the pastry out of the fridge where it was thawing, I noticed a small container of grated Parmesan and some fresh thyme....I used these when rolling it out, and was very happy with the result of my experiment.

Make the chicken filling first, as it should cool before the pastry is put on top; if it is too hot it will soften the pastry and melt the butter inb it before it starts to bake.

Cut the chicken into 1/2" pieces. I used:

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Season with:

Black pepper
Cayenne pepper

In a hot pan, with olive oil, brown the chicken on all sides. I did this in 2 batches.

Remove the browned chicken from the pan and set it aside. Keep the pan for cooking the vegetables and sauce.

Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan, and add the finely chopped vegetables. Cook until they start to soften. You will need:

1 stalk celery
1 medium carrot
1 large leek
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

When the vegetables have started to soften, add the browned chicken back to the pan.

Stir in:

1/4 cup flour

Cook, stirring for 2 minutes.

Stir in:

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

Bring to a boil, stirring. Turn the heat down and simmer until the sauce thickens, and the vegetables and chicken are fully cooked.
Taste and adjust seasoning.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

To finish off the pies, turn the oven on to 375F.

Divide the chicken filling between individual dishes (which is what I did) or put it into one large ovenproof dish.

On a clean counter, combine:

1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Instead of flour, use the Parmesan and thyme to prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter as you roll it out to a thickness of 1/8".

Make sure to sprinkle some on top of the dough when you start rolling it, and as it gets larger.

Place the rolled pastry on top of the filling, pressing it gently down to create a rim.

Cut a steam hole in the centre, and brush with egg wash.

Bake until the pastry is golden and crisp, and the chicken filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes.

  • As I mentioned, I usually make chicken pot pie using chicken breast, or leftover cooked chicken. The thighs worked well, and I might stick to using them from now on. They don't dry out as much as chicken breast can if cooked for too long.
  • If you want a beef or pork pot pie, make the substitution and use beef stock instead of chicken.
  • Cooked bacon, ham or prosciutto can be added to the filling.
  • The leek gives a definite peppery flavour to the filling, but if you don't have any, use onions.
  • I used the pastry from the post Goat Cheese Tart with Grape Tomatoes and Fresh Basil. I had one of the three pieces it makes in the freezer.
  • I made individual pot pies, and used a quarter of  the pastry for each pie.
  • You can use purchased puff pastry if you wish; brush it with egg wash and then sprinkle the Parmesan on top. Add the thyme into the filling.

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