I laughed just now as I looked at the name of the recipe I'm about to type out. The author, Laura Calder, calls it "Chicken Pot Pie for the Perfectionists." Well, that's an understatement. This recipe is the longest recipe I have ever made for something that T tells me I could buy for $9.99 at Costco. I will argue up and down now though, having made it, that you cannot even begin to compare the two.
I didn't think of this recipe as a challenge. It's chicken pot pie, after all, not a dish I'm unfamiliar with. But it definitely was a challenge in cooking endurance. And if you think you can cut corners, don't. It is the detail in this recipe that makes it a truly incomparable pie. When all was said and done, this recipe took me two days to make, so if you do decide to do this, you need to be organized and have the time to dedicate to this. In fact, you'll even need some decent time to sit down to read through the ingredient list, let alone the instructions. So, grab a coffee and maybe a snack and settle in. Here goes:
Chicken Pot Pie for the Perfectionists
Makes 2 pies, 8-10 servings in all
For the Chicken
- 1 chicken, about 3 pounds, whole
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
For the Enriched Stock
- 1 large carrot, halved
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 celery rib, roughly chopped
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 generous sprig of thyme
- a few sprigs of parsley
- 6 peppercorns
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 5 cups chicken stock
For the Crust
- Lard pastry
For the Garnish
- 3 carrots, sliced, about 2 cups
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 3 leeks, halved and sliced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 slices of bacon, cut in lardons
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 2 large handfuls of chopped fresh parsley
For the Sauce
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 3/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 tsp sweet paprika, more to taste
- egg wash
- For the chicken, heat the oven to 375 degrees F, set the chicken in a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper, rub with butter and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, discard the skin, remove the meat from the bird and set aside and put the carcass in a stock pot with the rest of the stock ingredients.
- Bring stock ingredients to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours. Strain and reserve 2 1/2 cups of stock for the recipe. Chop the chicken meat into bite sized pieces. You should have about 5 cups.
- While the chicken roasts, make and chill the lard pastry, then prepare the garnish. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it and blanche the carrots and celery until al dente, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and rinse in ice cold water to stop the cooking. Drain thoroughly.
- Heat the oil in a pan and saute the bacon, until cooked but not crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the leeks to the pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook 5 minutes, adding the garlic in during the last minute. Add the bacon, peas, parsley and reserved chicken meat. Season with salt and pepper.
- For the sauce, pour the reserved chicken stock into a saucepan, add the wine and bring to a simmer. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the warm stock and cook until thick, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cream. Add more cream if needed but without making the sauce too thick. Season well with salt and pepper and add in the paprika. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and mix gently to combine thoroughly.
- To assemble the pies, spoon the filling into two 9" pie plates. Divide the pastry into two disks, roll out rounds and lay over the filling, pressing to seal the edges. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Brush the tops of the pies with egg wash and cut three slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake 25 minutes. reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking until the crust is deeply golden and crisp, about 30 minutes longer.
Recipe from Dinner Chez Moi, by Laura Calder