In Which We Prepare for the Future

The Boy likes meat pie.

Shepherd’s Pie, steak pie, chicken pot pie – he likes it all. So, when I spotted a recipe for chicken pot pie that you can freeze and keep on hand for an easy meat pie dinner when the craving hits…well, how could I not give it a try?

First, you cook the chicken:

Lovely golden brown.

Then (if you’re me and you always forget to do your prep work before you start cooking, and then it becomes a step and adds on to the estimated cooking time) you chop up all the veggies into pretty little pieces.

I always thinks chopped veggies look like jewels.

Then you cook the veggies, so they get all soft and yummy.

Cooked jewels.

And with some broth, some flour, some milk, and the chicken it all somehow magically becomes the filling!

Yummy sweet chicken stew.

It all goes into pans with frozen peas (yes, frozen), and gets topped with pre-made (yes, pre-made) pie dough. I know, I know, it’s not very gourmet chef of me, but the recipe promised that if I wanted freezable pot pies, this was the way to go.

I will admit that here is where things went awry. For one, I just plopped in the whole package of frozen peas, without bothering to read that we only needed 1 1/2 cups. Oops. Nothing terrible, but just a deviation from the recipe.

I also neglected to note the size of the pans – until long after they had been purchased. You are meant to use 2-cup disposable aluminim pans. We used…5 cup pans. Whoops. Again, it still made six servings, but I’d advise using the correct pan size when you make this. Especially if you plan only to use single servings at a time (luckily, there are two of us, so we just split a big pie for dinner).

Ready to be wrapped and frozen.

Once the pies are assembled, you wrap them and freeze them and they can sit for up to two months. TWO MONTHS PEOPLE. We still have one in the fridge from however many weeks ago that we made them.

And after you take them out and cook them they look like this:

Om nom nom.

Nice, right?

Freezer Chicken Pot Pies
From America’s Test Kitchen‘s Katie Henderson.

I will give you one warning – just because these are all done and prepared and in your freezer, it does not necessarily make them a quick dinner option. They do have to cook for more than an hour before being served, though admittedly you can go read a book or catch up on your DVR (does anyone else have DVR-related stress?) while it’s happening. Otherwise, they’re very good – I wish there was crust all the way around, but then, I am a crust whore, so such is life. Anyway, enjoy!

Yield: 6 Servings

To preserve their color, don’t thaw the peas before using. Each box of pie dough contains 2 crusts; you will use all 4 crusts for this recipe.

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

5½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 medium onion, chopped fine

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1 celery rib, chopped fine

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup milk

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 (15-ounce) boxes Pillsbury Ready to Roll Pie Crust

1 large egg, plus one large egg, beaten, for baking

1½ cups frozen peas

To make ahead: Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large Dutch oven over high heat until just smoking. Cook chicken until well browned, about 2½ minutes per side. Add broth and bring to boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until chicken is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to large plate and strain broth into bowl.

Melt butter with remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook onion, carrots, celery, and ¼ teaspoon salt until lightly browned and softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add flour, and cook 1 minute. Whisk in reserved broth, milk, and thyme and simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, using 2 forks, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces. Off heat, add chicken and lemon juice to sauce and season with salt and pepper. Transfer filling to medium bowl and cool until just warm. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
Unwrap and unroll pie crusts onto lightly floured counter. Glue 2 crusts together using 1 beaten egg. Repeat with remaining 2 crusts. Cut out 6 pastry toppings. Stir frozen peas into cold filling and divide mixture among six 2-cup disposable aluminum loaf pans. Top with pastry and use fork to seal edges. Using paring knife, make 3 steam vents in each crust. Tightly wrap each loaf pan in 2 layers of plastic wrap and 1 layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 2 months.

When ready to serve
: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap frozen pot pies and arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Brush crusts with egg, cover with foil, and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until crusts are golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let pot pies rest 10 minutes before serving.


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