Thursday, January 31, 2013

one hundred and seventy-five

My favorite thing about wintertime is not crackling fires, fuzzy scarves, or the serenity of falling snow.  It's not the holidays, or snazzy knee-high socks, or Macy's window displays, or even the release of the next season in The Simpsons DVD collection (which is saying something).  No, it's about the food.

Winter is the one time of year when we get downright primal about our food intake, gorging on savories and sweets as though we are in a perpetual state of preparing for hibernation, and it's something that I always take full advantage of when planning my meals for even the warmest of winter weeks.  From November until March, my menu plans are full of soups, chilis, stews, (did I mention soups?) and one of my favorite non-soup meals: chicken pot pie.

There's just one problem.  The only chicken pot pies I ever had as a child were (unbeknownst to my mother) eaten at my grandmother's house, which means they came from the freezer aisle.  I have never been able to enjoy a chicken pot pie made from whole ingredients, yet I can't bring myself to purchase premade freezer pies because, come on, they're freezer pies.  I was faced with a serious conundrum: give up pot pies forever or learn to like the "real" kind.

Since I'm a stubborn little monkey, however, I wasn't able to do either and ended up having to meet myself in the middle of the road.  Inspired by a source I normally ignore, the chicken pot pie recipe that follows combines an awesome homemade crust with a shameful quantity of store bought Italian salad dressing.  I know, I know.  It sounds terrible, but it really is comfort food at its finest--once you learn to ignore your inner foodie, of course.

Chicken Pot Pie

For the Crusts:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups shortening, cut into tablespoons
4 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoons
6 tablespoons cold water, plus additional as needed

In a large bowl (or in the work bowl of a food processor), combine the flour and salt.  Cut the shortening and butter into the flour until the fats are broken down into pea sized clumps.  

Add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough sticks together when you squeeze it.  

Quickly knead on a floured surface, then divide the dough into two balls.  Flatten the balls into discs, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for about an hour before using.

Dough can be frozen for up to a month, just be sure to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using it.

For the Filling:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/3 cup Italian salad dressing
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups frozen peas and carrots

Preheat the oven to 375.

 In a large skillet over medium-high heat, mix the chicken and the salad dressing.  Cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes or until the chicken is opaque.  

Stir in the cream cheese.  Once the cream cheese has melted, sprinkle the chicken with the flour and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  

Add the chicken stock to deglaze the pan, then stir in the frozen vegetables.  Remove from heat.

Roll out the pie crusts.  Line a pie pan with one of the crusts, dock the crust by pricking it with a fork, and pop it into the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until the crust is slightly golden.

Pour the filling into the parbaked crust, then top with the remaining pie crust.  Seal the edges by crimping with your fingers or by pressing the edges with a fork.  

Cut vent holes in the top crust and return the pie to the hot oven.  

Bake an additional 40 minutes or until the top crust is golden brown and fragrant.


  1. Great minds think alike? We had pot pie two nights ago!

    1. I bet yours actually contained real food, though. I'm always embarrassed to share this recipe!