This was one of my favorites as a kid, one of the first meals I made on my own, and one that I’m constantly reinventing to make even better. It triggers so many happy food memories! The key to my version is having crust on the top and bottom—and getting that bottom crust browned and crisp before it gets soaked with sauce. I bake the crust alone, then spoon the hot filling over one piece and top with another. I love the way the crust stays flaky (yum) and doesn’t have that gooey raw dough layer (blech). Plus, it makes it great for entertaining. You can bake the crust early, keep the filling simmering, and just combine them when you’re ready to serve. —Carla Hall
Test Kitchen Notes
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. —Sarah Jampel
- Serves 8
- For the flaky butter crust:
(2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 1/4 cups
all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- For the pot pies:
Flaky butter crust (from above)
canola or other neutral oil
medium yellow onions, diced
carrots, cut in half lengthwise then into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons
celery ribs, cut in half lengthwise then into 1/2-inch-thick slices at an angle
fresh sage leaves
fresh or dried bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
chicken stock or store-bought unsalted chicken broth
2 1/2-pound chickens, each cut into 8 pieces (2 wings, 2 legs, 2 breasts, 2 thighs)
(1/2 stick) unsalted butter
10-ounce package frozen baby peas (2 cups)
- For the flaky butter crust:
- In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt in the water. Refrigerate until very cold, about 30 minutes. During that time, refrigerate your butter, flour, mixer bowl, and paddle, too.
- Make sure your butter’s cut into 1/2-inch dice. Bigger pieces will make your dough puffy. In the chilled bowl, combine the cold butter and flour. With your hands, toss the butter in the flour until each cube is lightly coated.
- With the chilled paddle, beat the flour-butter mixture on low speed to just break up the butter, about 30 seconds. Add the water mixture all at once and raise the speed to medium-low. Beat just until the dough comes together in big chunks, then immediately turn off the mixer.
- Divide the chunks of dough in half and very gently pat each group into a round 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour, before rolling. You can refrigerate the disks for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 3 months.
- For the pot pies:
- To make the pie crust: Divide each disc of dough into 4 pieces (so that you have 8 total), flatten each piece into a disk, and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Place one oven rack near the top of the oven and one near the bottom. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Roll each disk into 1/8-inch-thick round (they don't have to be perfect circles). Transfer to parchment paper–lined half sheet pans. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water. Brush the egg wash over all the dough rounds. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes, switching the positions of the pans halfway through baking. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool completely.
- To make the filling: In an extra large Dutch oven or a stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, thyme, sage, rosemary, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, then cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
- Add all the chicken pieces, return to a boil, then lower to heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Begin checking the chicken after 15 minutes; pull pieces out and transfer to a large platter as they’re finished. Smaller pieces, like the wings, will be done first.
- Strain the stock through a sieve, reserving the vegetables and stock separately, but removing and discarding the herbs. Keep the broth hot.
- When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin and bones and pull the meat into bite-size pieces.
- In a very large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Whisk in the hot stock and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Continue cooking until the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream, then stir in the heavy cream. Bring to a boil again, then stir in the chicken pieces and vegetables until well coated. When the filling is hot, stir in the peas. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Break each pastry round to form two half-moons and place one in the bottom of each serving dish. Divide the chicken filling among the dishes and top with the other half of pastry. Serve immediately.