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Author Notes: I really hate wasting food, so every now and then (especially during the holidays) I go through my fridge and use up vegetables and meats that are about to go bad in a one-pot-type meal. This is a delicious and healthy chicken pot pie recipe that I developed one year to do just that. But, it turned out so tasty that it’s become a winter staple in my house. I highly recommend making homemade stock—it adds so much flavor and depth—but you can also use packaged broth and pre-cooked meat, like a rotisserie chicken.
The herbed, whole wheat crust turns out flaky every time and is healthier than regular, white flour crust, making this a great start-of-the-year comfort food with less guilt.
I really love the combination of shredded, boiled chicken breasts, kale, and butternut squash. But since this recipe is to help you clean out your fridge, feel free to vary some of the ingredients, depending what you have lying around. Here are some substitution ideas:
Chicken: Turkey, pulled pork, cooked sausage, or any tender leftover meat.
Squash: Sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, pumpkin
Kale: Swiss chard (leaves only), spinach (add after cooking the squash), collard greens, or any hearty greens
Herbs: Feel free to throw in any finely chopped fresh herbs! Just keep it under 2 tablespoons and take it easy on the marjoram.
Additionally, you can use chopped leeks instead of the onions, and jalapeños or other hot peppers like Anaheim instead of serrano. And try not to skip the peas! They add a delicate sweetness that really complements the bitterness of the greens. —Jenya | BlueGalley
Food52 Review: WHO: Jenya | BlueGalley is a blogger living in California. This is her second contest finalist!
WHAT: A pot pie that cleans out the fridge in a very glamorous, very flavorful way.
HOW: Stir together vegetables, fresh herbs, a homemade gravy, and shredded chicken and hide them under a crust flecked with herbs. Bake until golden, slice open, and tuck in.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The ideal chicken pot pie should be flavorful—and there should be plenty of chicken. This recipe has both. Don't be put off by what seems like a long list of instructions: This recipe is really not difficult to make but if you're pressed for time, you could easily use store-bought stock and even a rotisserie chicken. It's also very welcoming of whatever vegetables you have on hand. The herbs add great flavor to the gravy, and the little bit of heat from the pepper is a perfect foil to the richness. It's a perfect "one-pot" dinner for a cold winter night. —The Editors
Serves 4 to 6
For the crust:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme, leaves only
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped dill
- 4 tablespoons cold butter, diced
- 4 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
- 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
For the pot pie
- 1 whole raw chicken, or 2 large raw chicken breasts
- 3 to 4 cups chicken stock
- 6 to 8 ounces chopped bacon or pancetta
- 1 bunch kale, or hearty green of choice
- 2 cups diced butternut squash, or yams
- 1 cup green peas (if frozen, no need to thaw)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped or thinly sliced
- 1 small serrano pepper (or 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons half-and-half or heavy cream
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- If using a whole raw chicken: Break the chicken up, reserving the thighs and wings for another meal. Remove the skin from the breasts and discard the skin. If making a stock from the carcass, cover the breasts and refrigerate. If not making stock, skip to step 3.
- If making stock: In a large pot, add the chicken carcass, 1 quartered onion, 1 carrot cut into thirds, 2 ribs celery cut into thirds, 1 head of garlic cut in half crosswise, 1 bay leaf, some parsley and thyme sprigs (or any herbs you have lying around like dill or cilantro), 1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns. Feel free to add other leftover veggies like a chopped leek, parsnip or turnip, or even a Parmesan cheese rind. Let's clean out that fridge! Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 to 4 hours (or longer), occasionally skimming the top. Carefully strain the broth and return broth to the pot. Discard solids.
- Make the crust: In a large bowl, sift the flours, salt, and sugar. Stir in the chopped parsley, thyme, and dill. Cut in the cold butter and shortening using a pastry cutter or food processor and mix until mixture looks grainy, with pea-sized pieces. Add cold water, starting with 4 tablespoons. Fluff and mix gently with a fork. If the dough feels too dry, add more water as needed. I usually don't need more than 6 tablespoons. Gather into a ball, flatten a bit, wrap in plastic and chill for at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 425° F. Place rack in the middle position.
- Add the chicken breasts into the pot with the stock, bring to a boil, lower heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breasts. Chicken should be opaque-looking and cooked through. Remove chicken, let it cool enough to handle, and shred by hand. Keep this stock—you'll be using it later!
- In a large pan or Dutch oven, cook the bacon or pancetta over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the shredded chicken. Leave the rendered fat in the pan; you need about 1 tablespoon. (Add olive oil if needed.)
- Chop the onion, garlic cloves, and serrano pepper. Add to the pan with the bacon fat and sweat over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes until onion is translucent. Add half of the chopped sage and thyme and cook another minute.
- Meanwhile, chop the kale (make sure to remove tough stems) and add to the pan. Cook the kale until wilted, about 3 minutes. Season the veggies with some kosher salt and fresh pepper (a couple of pinches of each).
- Stir in the flour and cook another minute. Now add the stock, one cup at a time, stirring well as you go. The flour will thicken it.
- Add the diced squash to the pan. The squash should be barely covered with the stock, so add a bit more if necessary. Partially cover the pot and cook on medium low until squash is tender, about 8 minutes. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the sweet peas and the rest of the herbs. At the end of cooking, stir in the half-and-half or heavy cream.
- Turn off heat, add the bacon and shredded chicken to the pot and stir to combine. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the pot pie filling to a large, deep pie dish or a gratin dish. (alternatively you can cook this in a large, deep, ovenproof cast iron skillet and add the crust right to the skillet, but you'll have to move the leftovers to store them in the fridge).
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and place on top of the filling. Cut off excess dough around the edges and pinch the dough around the edges to seal. Cut a few decorative slits on top; these will let steam escape. Brush the crust with the egg wash.
- Cook in the preheated 425° F oven until crust is golden and slightly brown in places, about 30 minutes. Rotate pie half way through so it cooks evenly.
- Let the pot pie rest at least 10 minutes before serving, preferably 15 to 20.
- Enjoy this delicious, comforting pot pie and relish in knowing that you just cleaned out your fridge. :)
- Your Best Recipe that Cleans Out the Fridge Contest Finalist!