The ultimate comfort food! Creamy and full of vegetables, these Individual Chicken Pot Pies are like a hug from a good friend. Relax and give in to the embrace of this classic meal.
Topped with a crispy puff pastry crust, tender vegetables and chicken are combined with a lemon-tinged cream sauce.
The appeal of chicken pot pie
I think everyone has had a small frozen chicken pot pie. Generally considered a convenience food, its appeal is the lack of preparation required. Served in a disposable foil pie pan, all that is needed is a hot oven. But there are two undeniable facts about the frozen pot pie. The 40-50 bake time seems interminable when you are hungry. When the pot pie comes out of the oven, it is the temperature of lava. Which only makes your hunger pangs worse.
Even so, chicken pot pies have cast their spell over us. The combination of flaky crust, tender vegetables, and loads of chicken enveloped in a flavorful cream sauce is universally savored.
The crust conundrum
The crust debate asks should you prepare a chicken pot pie in the manner of a traditional pie. Should there be a bottom crust in addition to the top crust? Or is a top crust sufficient for true chicken pot pie enjoyment?
This chicken pot pie recipe utilizes a solo top crust. For a couple of reasons -
- Using a bottom crust requires blind baking to ensure a crisp, not soggy, layer. Less baking time with just a top crust.
- For individual pies, that is a lot of crust in a small dish. I would rather have more filling.
How to make
The individual chicken pot pies are made in three steps - cooking the vegetables, cooking the chicken, and making the cream sauce. The vegetables are given a par cooking so that they do not get too soft while the pot pie is baking.
- Slice all the vegetables - celery, carrots, leeks, and asparagus.
- Peel and dice the potatoes.
- Mince garlic and pull thyme leaves off the stem
- Zest one lemon
- Cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts into chunks
Par cook the vegetables
Start with the potatoes. Add the olive oil to the pan over medium heat. The potatoes will stick to the bottom of the pan, so you need to use a spatula to loosen them. Don't worry about the potato fond left on the surface of the pan. It will help to thicken the sauce. Just make sure it doesn't burn. The browned potato bits had some nice flavor to the sauce.
After 8 -9 minutes, add a bit more oil. Add the celery and carrots and season with ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper. As the veggies cook, they will start to release a little water. This will help to release the potato fond that has developed.
In 5 minutes, add the leeks, garlic, and asparagus. Gently stir everything together, making sure the leeks don't get too brown. Cook all the vegetables for another 6 or so minutes. The texture should be crisp-tender. There should be a bit of a bite. The vegetables will continue to cook when the pot pie is baking in the oven.
Remove the vegetables from the pan onto a plate to rest.
Brown the chicken
In the same skillet, the diced chicken is browned with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper over medium-high heat. Again, this is par cooking. The chicken should be slightly browned on the surface. It may not be thoroughly cooked, which is okay.
Bringing it all together
Now, add the vegetables back to the pan. Gently combine with the chicken. Now create the creamy and thick sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. When it has melted, add 2 tablespoons of flour. We are making a roux to thicken the silky sauce.
Add chicken stock to the skillet, letting it thicken. Now add the heavy cream for a touch of indulgence. To finish the sauce, add chopped parsley, fresh thyme leaves, lemon juice and zest. Season to your liking. I don't blame you need a few spoonfuls of the filling to tie you over.
To finish off the pot pies -
- Thaw a sheet of puff pastry.
- Roll it out into a 14x14 square for 4 pot pies
- Use a plate or a bowl as a template for cutting out circles to fit the top of the pot pie dish
- Have an egg wash ready - a beaten egg combined with a tablespoon of cream
When cutting out the puff pastry circle, it is helpful to cut a larger size than the dish. You will want to secure the puff pastry to the sides of the dish so that it doesn't shrink.
The pie dishes in the photos contained 1 ½ cups of filling. If it seems like the sauce is thick, this is by design. The vegetables will release liquid as they continue to bake in the oven.
Brush the egg wash on the edge of the dish and lay the puff pastry on top. As I said, you will want to use the egg wash as glue so that the pastry adheres to the dish. Finish off the pot pie as you would like - crimp the pastry, use a fork to embellish, or just have a clean edge.
Lastly, cut a couple of steam vents into the top of the puff pastry and brush with the egg wash.
Bake these beauties for 30 minutes until crispy, shiny, and golden brown.
Maybe one big pot pie
If you prefer to make one big pot pie, the prep work is the same. Just add an additional chicken breast and another ¼ cup of each of the vegetables. For the sauce, add another tablespoon of butter and flour to the vegetables. Increase the amount of chicken stock to 2 ½ cups and the cream to ½ cup. Taste the sauce - if you want a more pronounced lemon flavor, you may need to add another tablespoon or so of juice. One sheet of puff pastry rolled out will fit the top. The dish pictured below is a 10 x 2-inch pie dish.
Favorite family dinner
This is a favorite family dinner in my home. The recipe was created as a sneaky way to get my kids to eat more vegetables because really, anything coated in a cream sauce is hard to resist. The tinge of garlicky lemon flavor is a lovely compliment to the vegetables and chicken.
Give this ultimate comfort food a try. It will soon be a classic in your home!
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Individual Chicken Pot Pies
- 4 individual baking dishes I used 5.5-inch pie dishes
- 1 large saute pan
- 1 Rolling Pin
- 1 lemon zester or microplane
- 4 stalks celery, sliced (1 cup, 3.8 ounces, 107 grams)
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced (1 cup, 4.7 ounces, 133 grams)
- 2 leeks, white tops, sliced (1 cup, 3.8 ounces, 106 grams)
- 9 stalks asparagus (1 cup, 4.3 ounces, 122 grams)
- 3 cloves garlic, large (minced)
- 4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced (1 ¾ cups, 8.8 ounces, 251 grams)
- 4½ tablespoons olive oil
- 2½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced (1 pound 4 ounces, 577 grams)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cups chicken stock (16 ounces, 473 ml)
- ½ cup heavy cream (4ounces, 118 ml)
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 sheet puff pastry (8.5 ounces, 245 grams)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 400 °.
- If puff pastry is frozen, take it out of the freezer to thaw while you prep the other ingredients.
- Prep all the vegetables. Peel the carrots. Slice the carrots, celery, and asparagus. Make sure that the leeks are rinsed to remove any dirt in between the leaves before slicing. Mince the garlic and the parsley. Strip the thyme leaves from the stalks.
- Peel and dice 4 small Yukon gold potatoes.
- Over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet. Add the potatoes to the pan. Move the potatoes around the pan frequently. They will start to stick to the bottom of the pan. Use a metal spatula to release the potatoes from the pan. It is okay is there is some fond developing from the potatoes as this will help to thicken the sauce. Just don't let them brown too much. Saute for 8-9 minutes.
- Add the celery and carrots to the pan along with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper. As the vegetables are sauteed, they will release some water. Scrap the fond off the bottom of the pan. Saute for 5 minutes.
- Add the leeks, asparagus, and minced garlic to the pan. Saute for 6 minutes. The vegetables are being sweated at this point. They should only cook until they are crisp-tender as they will continue to cook while the pot pies baking.
- Once the vegetables are done cooking, remove them from the pan onto a plate. Try to spread them out to cool.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the diced chicken and season with ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high. Saute for 8-10 minutes. The chicken may get slightly brown on the surface. If it is not completely cooked through, don't worry. It is being baked soon.
- Add the vegetables back to the pan with the chicken, gently stirring to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter to the pan.
- Once the butter is melted, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour over the chicken and vegetables. Stir to coat all the ingredients. Stir constantly for 3 minutes to cook the raw taste out of the flour.
- Add 2 cups of chicken stock to the pan. I add it ¼ cup at a time, adding more as the sauce starts to thicken.
- Let the chicken stock get warm and start to thicken. Add the heavy cream, stirring to combine with the stock.
- Once the sauce is thick, add the lemon zest and juice, chopped parsley, and the fresh thyme leaves.
- Check the seasoning of the sauce. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Fill the pie dishes with the pot pie filling. I used 5-inch pie dishes that held 1 ½ cups of filling in each.
- Lay a thawed puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the sheet out into a 14-inch x 14-inch square.
- Use a plate or bowl as a template to cut circles out for the top of the pie dishes. Cut the circles about ½-inch larger than the size of the pie dish.
- Combine a beaten egg with 1 tablespoon of heavy cream.
- Brush the edge of the pie dish with the egg wash and lay the puff pastry on top. Use egg wash to adhere the extra puff pastry overhanging to the sides of the pie dish. This will prevent it from shrinking while baking.
- Cut two vents in the puff pastry and brush the top with egg wash.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Let it cool for 5-10 minutes before eating. Remember it is lava.
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