Chicken

Carla Hall Calls This Chicken Pot Pie a Lifelong Friend

April 14, 2017

Before chicken pot pie defined Carla Hall's time on Top Chef (and won her an appearance with Jimmy Fallon, and launched her career in television), it was a dish she grew up loving to make.

The recipe, as Carla describes it, is "a friend—a longtime friend" that's stuck with her from her childhood in Nashville, to her start in the food world in the 1980s, to today (when, in addition to co-hosting The Chew on ABC, she runs a catering company and a chicken restaurant. No big deal).

Why chicken pot pie? "It’s because of my love of peas, my love of crust, and my love of chicken in gravy."

Carla remembers that Julia Child's pot pie was one of the first dishes she made on her own, and it took her three days—poaching the chicken, cooking the vegetables, making the pie dough, assembling it all.

Throughout her career, she's returned to pot pie whenever she is feeling homesick. "Whenever I am feeling uncomfortable, I look to food to make the connection to home. When I would travel, and I was living in France, this is what I would make for people to tell them about where I came from. At the time, I couldn't find celery in France so I used leeks instead—and that's how I realized those were a different thing."

Fast-forward twenty years, to Top Chef, when Carla's pot pie secured her a win in an elimination challenge (and made her dance). The recipe, which she published in her first cookbook Cooking with Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You, is forgiving—it will take you a few hours rather than a few days—and capitalizes on all of the tricks she's picked up during her thirty-plus years in food.

For starters, Carla makes her pie dough—which our test kitchen chef Allison Buford has declared her new go-to—in a stand mixer (so you don't have to worry about cutting in the butter by hand). And instead of tucking the dough into a pie dish, filling it with the gravy, and then covering it with another layer of dough, Carla bakes the dough rounds all on their own. She then breaks each one in two, using half as the floor for the chicken stew and half for a jaunty hat. That means a perfect layer of flaky, shattering pastry—no mushy bottom or gooey under-crust.

This pot pie might end up as your lifelong friend, too.

What's the first dish you cooked all on your own? Tell us in the comments below.

2 Comments

Susan D. April 17, 2017
I get frustrated when I see recipe photos like the one accompanying the chicken pot pie recipe, that show items/ingredients not in the recipe list. Just think pics should match the recipe, then leave any creative additions up to the cook. IMO. Your entire product, though, is a 5 star endeavor!
 
BerryBaby April 15, 2017
I was 10 and it was my parents anniversary. I set the table for two with flowers from the yard and made them dinner. My first time making a full meal. I made a smoked butt ham, potato salad, green beans and my mothers favorite dessert Angel food cake with fresh strawberries (from our garden) and whipped cream. I recall seeing a few tears so I think they enjoyed it. That was over 50 years ago and it seems like yesterday.