Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Pie
Makes 1 pie servings 4-6; or two smaller pies serving 2 each
Chicken pot pie incorporates all sorts of textures and flavors in an exciting yet comforting way. The better the crust, the better the sauce, the better the pie. But I have used both ready-to-roll-out pie crusts and puff pastry from the grocery store, and both work. The pie is a good use for store-bought rotisserie chicken or leftover turkey. This should be done in stages whenever possible; cook and shred the chicken up to two days ahead; cook the optional peppers and sauce up to two days ahead of time; roll out the pie crust several hours to a day before serving.
1-crust pie crust
1 (3-pound) cooked chicken (or leftover turkey, 3 to 4 cups)
2 red bell peppers or (1 green, 1 red) seeded, cored, and sliced thinly (optional)
5 tablespoons butter, divided use
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
2 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
5 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 cups spinach, English peas, or other quick-cooking green (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon water
Roll the pastry out on a floured board into a round piece 1/8-inch thick and 3 inches wider than a 9- or 10-inch deep dish pie plate, preferably with a ridge. Cut off one 1-inch strip from the circumference of the round. Put the strip aside. Cut out decorations from any excess pastry: leaves, flowers, and so forth. Wrap and chill the round until ready to use.
Remove the meat off the bones, then shred into bite-size pieces. You will need approximately 4 cups of cooked, shredded chicken. Reserve the rest for another occasion if a larger chicken is used.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the peppers if using and blanch in the boiling water for just a few minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, add sliced onion and cook a few minutes, add the mushrooms and garlic, and cook for several minutes, until tender.
In a separate pan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, and then add the flour. Stir together until smooth, and then cook slowly until a deep golden color. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the heavy cream and cook rapidly to a thick, syrupy consistency. Remove from the heat and add the shredded chicken, optional peppers, onions and mushrooms. Add spinach, peas or other green if desired. Season with salt and pepper and cool sufficiently that the crust doesn't melt when you place it over the pie.
Add chicken or chicken mixture into pie dish. Add more sauce if needed. Clean the rim of the dish if necessary.
Dip a finger into water and run it along the edge of the pie dish to dampen. Place the 1-inch strip of pastry around the rim of the dish. Dampen again with water, then place the large round of pastry on top. Press down with two fingers to push the two crusts together and flute all around the rim. Remove excess dough with a sharp upright knife, slicing away from the pie, using the pie plate as a guide. Make a 1-inch hole in the center for the steam to escape.
Prepare the glaze by mixing the egg with water. Brush the dough and any decorations with the glaze. Add the decorations, setting one aside to bake separately and use to cover for the hole. If the dough is too soft to hold a shape, chill the pie for half an hour before proceeding.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Bake the pie on a baking sheet with edges, to collect any drippings that may bubble over while it cooks. Move the decoration that will cover the hole to a piece of wax paper, foil or parchment paper on a pan next to the pie crust for easy removal as it will take less time to cook.
After 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 350 degrees, checking to see if the hole decoration needs to be removed. Bake 25-30 minutes more, until the dough is puffed and brown. When the pie is done, remove from oven, cover the hole with the reserved decoration, and let the pie cool a few minutes to make it easier to serve. The first piece may not come out very pretty, particularly if the crust is too hot.