So you’re sitting at your desk at 2:30 in the afternoon when you realize you haven’t pulled anything out of the freezer for dinner. You have some leftovers like one potato, half an onion, a few garlic cloves and some other random stuff laying around your kitchen…so what do you do with it?
Well, my normal go-to in this scenario is something of a stir-fry or casserole variety. Stir-fry is amazing because HEY! Meat, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, toss it in a wok, throw in whatever you want veggie wise, serve over rice and VOILA! Dinner in five minutes or less (not counting the rice, of course). OR, when you have a general mish-mash of items, a casserole is basically an amazing cop-out dish that makes it look like you not only planned the meal, but actually tried.
Taking that one step further, tonight I decided to go for a chicken pot pie. I found myself in the aforementioned scenario where I hadn’t planned anything, and I wasn’t in the mood for yet another bowl of beef and rice. I knew I had half an onion and some chicken laying around along with an almost empty bag of frozen veggies (that the Ryan doesn’t like, so I have to disguise them to make them edible), some garlic and a potato or two…So I thought HEY! Instead of a casserole, why don’t I do a pot pie?
Remember a couple of weeks ago when I went shopping with Jessica and we had our mad cake ball baking mania? Well, one of the things I purchased that day was mini casseroles for individual servings. I intended to use them for potato dishes or something of the like, but this seemed like the perfect excuse to break them out and see what they were really made of. This way, they’re not just random arbitrary kitchen obsessions I own that take up valuable cabinet space in our apartment. Genius!
I promptly called up the Ryan and asked him if he had ever had a chicken pot pie. He answered that the only time he’d ever had one was when he was a child. His mom apparently made a frozen one at some point. He then proceeded to liken a pot pie to a “poor man’s quiche, right? Just when you were too poor to afford eggs.” Whatever, honey.
Clearly, I had to straighten out my honey’s view on what a pot pie is. I will be showing him the history of pies and pot pies along with the history of quiches later. I suppose the fact that they both use pastry bits is where he got his idea? But Pot Pie is, strictly speaking, more of a Medieval England casserole-esque thing as opposed to the Quiche, which is a French custard based thing. And really, it’s kind of a German thing that the French adopted and made their own. Wanna know more? Read about the history of both here.
As for me, the last time I’d had a chicken pot pie was probably on vacation in a little place called Capon Springs in West Virginia. It used to be an old springs/bath houses in the..I wanna say 16-1700s? Nestled in the mountains and supplied with fresh, spring water through the whole town, it’s a step back in time. Everything they cook there is made from scratch, and the bacon you ate in the morning was probably the pig you visited at the farm yesterday. And the eggs? From the chicken you fed. Self sufficiency rules. But yes, I must have been, oh…12? 13? Given all of these factors, pot pie seemed like the right idea last night.
Using a recipe I found on AllRecipes.com as a guide (click here to see it), I sort of improvised this one with what I had laying around the kitchen. I also improvised with spices because just salt and pepper is not really our thing in this household. I scaled it down to a serving size of “2” since I was doing individual dishes. Observe:
First, the ingredients: Casseroles, one stalk of celery (sliced), leftover frozen veggies, chicken (cubed very small), salt and pepper to taste (I later got bored of just salt and pepper and added garlic powder (1 tbsp), Paprika (1/4 tsp) and celery salt (1/4 tsp) to my gravy), the other half of that onion (chopped), bouillon (1 & 1/2 cubes, divided), one small yellow potato (peeled and cubed) 3 garlic cloves and Pillsbury already made pie crusts. SO easy, just unroll them and VOILA! You’re ready to go. You will observe spinach, which I had originally intended to add, but then decided not to for room constraints in my single-serve dishes. The cheese was for garnish at the end (Popped one of the pies open and stirred in a bit of cheese to melty goodness…mmm). Additionally, what you don’t see, is that once I realized just how few frozen veggies I had left, I drug out two small carrots and peeled/chopped them as well. And the wine, well..The friends I house-sat for brought me back a bottle of my favorite wine. Now that I’m better and off narcotic opiate drugs, I can actually drink the stuff. And it was Friday night. WOOOO!
Next, get the ingredients for your gravy. Milk (4 tablespoons), All Purpose flour (2 tbls), salt and pepper (and the garlic powder, celery salt and paprika that I listed at the start..again, I threw them in as an afterthought, so they are not pictured). The other 1/2 of your chicken bouillon cube should be used here as well. The recipe I used had many comments that said it was necessary to double the gravy for this, as not doing so would result in a dry pie. The measurements I have given you ARE the double of the recipe, that was scaled to 2 portions.
First, I chopped the onion and ran the garlic through my press into a prep bowl and set aside – you will need these later. Before you begin the next step, get a pot of water going on the stove. Bring to a boil and chuck in ONE bouillon cube.
While your bouillon is going, cube and slice your potatoes and celery.
Once your bouillon is ready, add your potatoes, carrots (you can see the ones I added), frozen veggies and celery. At this stage of the game, I turned the heat all the way down to simmer and set to cut the chicken.
I am finicky about sanitation and such in my kitchen, so I always make sure to chop and move my vegetables BEFORE touching ANYTHING meat-related with my knife or cutting board (either that or I use a separate knife/cutting board entirely – but the Ryan was home from work yesterday and made his own dishes, so I was only left with one cutting surface). Cube the chicken into small bite-size pieces and add to the pot with the vegetables in it
Stir in the chicken and boil for 15 minutes. The recipe said to do it covered, but I didn’t really feel like it was necessary, so I didn’t bother. Next, put on a small pot with 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil. Drop in the remaining half of your bouillon cube to create broth.
While the last bit of broth is going, melt a couple tablespoons of butter and saute the garlic and onion you chopped earlier until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Next, since I was not thinking clearly, I added the milk and chicken broth.You are really supposed to add the flour and stir with the butter/garlic mixture to create a rue.
I realized quickly what I had done, though, and managed to get the flour in there in time, stirring to make sure there were no lumps and until the gravy thickened.
Stir in the salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and celery salt. Remove from the heat and set aside. By now, your veggies and chicken should be ready, and you can drain them and set aside as well.
Get your instant pie crusts out and fit them to your container. If you are using a pie plate, good on you, you don’t have to do anything. But since I was using the individual casseroles, I cut my pie crusts to fit and slid them in. I then cut any remaining excess along the outsides of the dishes.
See? Fits pretty well. Make sure to leave yourself some wiggle room at the top, as you’re going to have to adhere the top crust of the pot pie to this lower crust. I preserved my slices and set them aside.
Once your crust is ready, drop enough of the filling into the casserole dish to come to the top. Don’t stack too high above the level of the casserole, though, you need a good seal on your dough.
Next, spoon about half of the gravy on top of each of the chicken mixtures. I tossed mine a bit with a spoon just to make sure it seeped down there, but it’s not necessary – the moisture WILL move down.
Okay, so not the most beautiful thing in the world, but waste not, want not. To seal my pot pies, I used the pieces I cut from the crusts when I cut them to fit. Lay them across the casserole, sealing the edges, and trying gently to seal the pieces in the middle (though it is not necessary). Cut small slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape, and pop them in the oven. The recipe I used called for a 425 degree oven, but since I was using individual casseroles, I scaled the temperature down to 375. Smaller contents = smaller temp/cook time. I put these in for about half an hour.
And there you go! Chicken pot pie. 🙂 As I said before, I let these stand for about 5-7 minutes and then popped them open with a fork and stirred in a small dollop of the cheddar cheese until it was melty gooey goodness.
Who says leftovers have to be boring?