March 22, 2011

Comfort Food

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Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Pot Pie

Almost everyone has a favorite comfort food; a food that provides a feeling of well being usually associated with childhood or home cooking.  Comfort food runs the gamut and can be anything from soup to nuts.  To me, the ultimate comfort food is chicken pot pie.  This is surprising because my mother never made chicken pot pie!

The recipe starts with a package of refrigerated pie crusts.  I've used name brand and generic pie crusts and this is one time I stick with the name brand.  I think it tastes better than generic.  The dough is easier to handle and less likely to tear if you take it out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before you're ready to use it.  You can prep the remaining ingredients while the dough comes to room temperature.

The recipe uses canned chicken.  I use a can of all white meat, but it's more economical -- and some would say more flavorful -- to use a can of white and dark meat.  Regardless of which one you use, make sure to drain the chicken well and separate it into pieces.  The chicken is combined with potato soup, mixed vegetables, salt, pepper and milk.

Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Pot Pie

Once the ingredients are mixed together, unroll the first pie crust into a deep-dish pie plate.  Press the crust firmly onto the bottom and sides of the pie plate.  If the dough tears, use your fingers to press it back together. Pour in the filling and cover with the second crust.  Fold the excess dough under the bottom pie crust and flute the edges.

Fluting makes the pie look prettier, but it also serves a purpose.  It seals the two pie crusts together.  You can flute the edges with your fingers or the tines of a fork.  I use my fingers to make a simple design.  If you want to replicate this look, put the index finger of your right hand on the inside of the pie crust.  Put your thumb and index finger of the left hand on the outside of the pie crust.  Press your fingers towards each other to make a zig zag design.

Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Pot Pie

Normally you cut slits in the top of a pie crust before it's baked so steam can escape. This recipe was adamant that slits should not be cut into the dough.  I've made the pie with and without the slits and, for some reason, the pie does better without the slits.

The pie goes into a 350° oven for 1 hour.  You need to keep an eye on it while it bakes to make sure the edges aren't getting too brown.  If they do, you can cover them with foil or use a pie crust shield which is available for regular and deep-dish pie plates.  I prefer the pie crust shield because it's quick and easy to put over the pie crust plus it's reusable.

Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Pot Pie

When the pie is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before cutting.  The filling won't be firm, but you can change the consistency by adjusting the amount of milk used in the recipe.  You can add between 1/2 to 1 1/4 cups of milk to get the consistency you like.   The pie on the top was made with 1 1/4 cups milk; the one on the bottom with 1/2 cup.   

Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Pot Pie

Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Pot Pie

The recipe is flexible so you can substitute fresh ingredients for the packaged ones.  If you have a good pie crust recipe, you can use that instead of the refrigerated crusts.  If you don't want to use canned chicken, substitute cooked, grilled or even rotisserie chicken cut into bite size pieces.  You can add a mixture of fresh vegetables cut into small pieces.  If you use fresh vegetables, you may need to adjust the cooking time to make sure they are fully cooked and tender.  You can also add additional spices to suit your taste.

Whether you use packaged ingredients or a combination of fresh and packaged ingredients, chicken pot pie is sure to please.  Add a green or congealed salad and you've got a well rounded meal that's nourishing to both body and soul.

Chicken Pot Pie
8 Servings

1 (14.1 oz.) pkg. refrigerated pie crusts
1 (10 oz.) can chicken in water, drained and separated into pieces
2 (10 3/4 oz.) cans cream of potato soup (undiluted)
1 (15 oz.) can mixed vegetables, drained
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk

Press one pie crust firmly onto the bottom and sides of a deep-dish pie plate.  Combine the remaining ingredients; pour the mixture into the pie plate.  Top with the remaining pie crust, fluting to seal both crusts.  Do not cut slits into the top of the crust.  Bake at 350° for 1 hour until lightly browned. Remove from oven; let cool 10 minutes before cutting. Refrigerate leftovers.

© Margaret's Morsels

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