Chicken & Wild Mushroom Pot Pie

chicpotpie4As a kid, I loved chicken pot pie, rare for me as I was suspicious of any food that was “mixed together” and certainly anything in gravy.  As an adult, I don’t like most chicken pot pies; the gravy often tastes of nothing so much as cream, flour and salt. This dish, however, is wonderfully savory, flavorful and satisfying.  It is elegant enough for a fancy dinner party yet homey enough to serve to kids just home from an afternoon’s hard sledding.  It elicits groans of pleasure from dinner guests and is high on the request-list when I am cooking for a party. 

This recipe makes one large casserole, six 6-oz ramekins, 4″ deep-dish pies, or about twelve 4-oz ramekins.  The recipe is time-consuming, but the results are so delicious that the effort is well-rewarded.  The recipe can all be made in advance, leaving only 15-20 minutes of oven time on the day you serve it.  It also stores well frozen, making for a quick & easy lunch or dinner during the week. 

Adapted from Deep Dish Chicken Pot Pies in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Pie and Pastry Bible.

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Chicken & Wild Mushroom Pot Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • one recipe Rose’s Flaky Pie Crust (cream cheese version), made with 1 tbsp fresh (1 tsp dried) thyme
  • 1.75 oz dried mushrooms* (approx. 3.5 cups after soaking), foraged, or from Madura Farms or Wild Hive Farm
  • 2 cups water
  • 5.5 cups chicken stock
  • one 4-lb roasting chicken OR 2 lbs chicken meat (white, dark or mixed meat, your preference)
  • 1 .5 cups dry white wine, preferable local Riesling
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 large carrots (1 cup sliced), peeled, quartered, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1 medium onion (1 cup), chopped
  • 2 leeks (1 cup), white & pale green parts, quartered, washed, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup (1.25 oz) Wild Hive Farm whole grain all purpose flour
  • salt & black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (1 tsp dried)

*My favorite is a chanterelle/porcini mushroom mix; Rose’s original recipe calls for all morels.  I’ve also tried baby portabella and maitake mushrooms; all are good.  Experiment to find your own favorites.  If you can’t find dried mushrooms, you can substitute one pound of fresh mushrooms, sliced and sauteed until they begin to brown.

METHODS

 Pastry

  1. Make the pastry dough. Allow to rest, refrigerated, for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  2. Roll out the pastry dough to 1/8″ thickness.  Cut individual rounds, using a template and a sharp knife, or a biscuit cutter: cut six 5 1/2″ circles for 6-oz ramekins, or twelve 4 1/2″ circles for 4-oz ramekins (the dough will shrink on baking). If you like, re-roll the scraps and use a small cookie cutter to add decorative shapes to each round (see Options).
  3. Place dough rounds on a baking sheet, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour to relax the dough.  You can also freeze the rounds until you are ready to bake the pastry.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees (400 convection) for at least 20 minutes.
  5. Bake the pastry rounds for 10 to 12 minutes (7 to 9 minutes convection) until golden brown (bake on the lowest oven rack, or directly on a pizza/bread stone, for maximum puffiness).  The pastry will go back into the oven for 5 minutes with the pot pie filling, so leave the rounds just barely cooked. Transfer to wire racks to cool.  You can bake the pastry several hours ahead. 

Gravy

  1. In a medium bowl, place the dried mushrooms and water and allow to sit for at least 1 hour and up to several hours.  They will become soft & spongy.
  2. Place the chicken stock in a medium stock pot (avoid using bouillon here, as the stock reduces so much it will be far too salty).  Strain the mushroom water into the stock pot; reserve the mushrooms. Bring stock mixture to a boil.
  3. Add the whole chicken, or chicken meat, to the stock and simmer, covered, until just cooked through (internal temperature should be 165 degrees F).  For a whole bird, this will take approximately 40 minutes, for bone-in thighs and breasts, 20-25 minutes, for chicken breast or tenders, 10 minutes or less. Check early & often to ensure that you do not overcook the chicken.  Remove the chicken from the stock to cool.
  4. Raise the heat and boil the stock until reduced to approximately 1/2 cup (30-45 minutes).  The stock will become thick and syrupy; add the wine, scraping the sides & bottom of the pan, and reduce again to approximately 1 cup.  Add the milk and cream, remove from heat, mix to combine thoroughly, and set aside.

Filling

  1. While the stock is reducing, prepare the chicken & vegetables for the filling.  When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and cut the meat off the bones into 1-inch chunks (freeze the carcass for a future stock).  Transfer the chicken chunks to a large bowl.
  2. Clean & chop the vegetables.  Slice the mushrooms, if necessary, into 1-inch pieces.  Chop the parsley, strip the thyme leaves off of the stems, and measure out the flour and butter.
  3. In a large skillet, melt 4 tbsp (2 oz) of butter.  Add the mushrooms, carrots, onions and leeks and a few pinches of salt.  Saute’ the vegetables over medium-low heat until the onions and leeks are translucent and the carrots are tender/crisp – do not let the leeks brown.  Transfer the mixture to the chicken bowl.
  4. Once the stock is done, add the remaining 4 tbsp (2 oz) of butter to the skillet.  When melted, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat for 1 minute.  Stir in the stock mixture.  Lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is very thick, about 7 to 10 minutes; it should bubble thickly and just barely drip from the spoon. (If your gravy separates, you can fix it in a blender at low speed, or by transferring to a small saucepan and using an immersion blender.  Then cook, stirring, over low heat until desired thickness is reached.)  This should yield 2.5 cups of gravy. 
  5. Stir gravy into the chicken/vegetable mixture along with the parsley and thyme.  Add salt & pepper to taste. (The filling can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours at this point.)
  6. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins, filling them to the top.  Place ramekins on a baking sheet or in a broiler pan, cover with foil, and bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven (400 convection) for 10-15 minutes (15-20 minutes if refrigerated, 25-35 minutes if frozen). Remove the foil and place a baked pastry round on each ramekin; cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Yields 6, 6-oz ramekins (or 4-inch deep dish pie plates), 12, 4-oz ramekins, or 1 large casserole or deep dish pie.

OPTIONS

  1. Rose’s original recipe calls for more mushroom (2.5 oz) and less vegetable (1/2 cup of carrots and 1 cup onion).  I prefer the added taste and texture of more vegetables so I reduced the mushrooms and added in carrots and leeks.  I’ve experimented quite a bit with this one and the above is the version that I like the best.  If you adore mushrooms, try Rose’s original version with your favorite fungus.  If parsnips, rutabagas, or other winter vegetables are your thing, feel free to experiment; just keep the total volume of mushroom + vegetables to approximately 7 cups.
  2. I find the 4-oz ramekins are a great serving size; the 6-oz make a hearty dinner with nothing added, but leave me feeling stuffed.  The 4-oz, with a small green salad and a glass of wine, is just about right, and leaves room for dessert!  The easiest option, prep-wise, is the one-dish casserole (for this, roll out the pastry about 1-inch larger, on all sides, than your casserole or pie dish); this works fine, but for a special party, the ramekins stay hot longer and people enjoy getting their own “special” pot pie.
  3. I usually separate the white & dark meat (using two large bowls with meat & vegetables and splitting the gravy between them), as people, including myself, tend to have strong prerferences towards one or the other.   Rose’s recipe calls for only dark meat from chicken thighs (as dark meat is generally more flavorful); use, and separate or not, according to your preference.
  4. To add decorative touchicpotpie2ches to your pastry rounds, roll out the pastry dough scraps and use cookie cutters to make fun shapes: reindeer, bells or stars at Christmas, hearts or flowers for Valentine’s day, chicks or chickens, or first-initial letters for each guest.  Glaze each cut-out with egg yolk/cream wash (1 egg yolk, lightly beaten, with 1 tsp of heavy cream or milk) and attach to the pastry round with a dab of the glaze.

STORE

Filling keeps in the refrigerator for up to one week, frozen up to 3 months.  Pastry will best on the day it is cooked; if you hold the filling, freeze the pastry topping and cook while you re-heat the filling.  Both filling & pastry will keep well frozen; freeze separately and then re-heat the filling at 425 degrees (400 convection) for 30 minutes (15 minutes if thawed), and bake the pastry (do not thaw) for 15 minutes in the same 425 degree oven.

SEASON

Fall and winter are the best seasons for this rich, savory stew.  Carrots, leeks and onions are available in fall and winter at farmer’s markets.  Dried mushrooms are available year round.

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