Chicken Pot Pie Provencal
A labor of love. That’s what this is. How else could you describe a pot pie – usually a thrown-together, rustic affair – that takes all day, at least six pots, and a good dose of fuss? I’ll admit, I’m not usually one for fuss. Except when baking, I’m loathe to even follow a recipe. And besides, my normal chicken pot pie recipe – which I blogged about not too long ago – takes like half an hour and hits the spot.
So why did I embark on this hours-long foray into chicken pot pie and, more importantly, was it worth it? The answer to both of those questions is a womp-wompy “I don’t know.” I came across the recipe on Food52, a site that tends to give me food envy over even the most mundane sandwich, on a rainy morning with a whole day of leisure stretched out before me (thanks, unemployment!) begging to be put to useless forms of use. The elaborate chicken pot pie seed had been planted and I had no choice but to give in to the pull of its roots. I was a goner.
The recipe – here – is (in my opinion, ridiculously) persnickety, so just do with it what you will. I still believe the humble chicken pot pie should not require this much effort, washing and cooking but you know what? I learned some nice things along the way. For example, that roasting the fennel on its own was a huge waste of time as the fennel was indistinguishable from the rest of the mush of ingredients. And that “refreshing” the haricots verts (that’s green beans for they rest of us) after parboiling them separately in order to – I assume – keep them bright and crisp is unnecessary considering they’re about to be thrown into the mix and baked in a creamy bechamel. But I did appreciate the tangy luxury of the creme fraiche and the bite of the mustard, both of which I’ll use again. So go forth and make chicken pot pie! Just remember that here, as on many roads in life, the shortcuts really will get you there faster.
CHICKEN POT PIE PROVENCAL (AKA A Really Good Chicken Pot Pie That Will Take You All Day)
Here’s the original recipe from Food52 with my edits along the side. Make of it what you will! No matter the road you take to get there, chicken pot pie is never time ill spent. For the record, this made enough filling for 2 huge 9″ springform pans. I ended up freezing half the filling because our little family of 3 can only handle so much chicken pot pie at a time.
- 4 pounds roasting chicken
- 6 carrots, ends trimmed, peeled
- 4 celery stalks, ends trimmed
- 1 leek, white and light green parts only (replaced this with a big onion)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 sprigs tarragon (didn’t use this)
- 3 sprigs thyme
- Fronds from a large fennel bulb (or this)
- 10 ounces pearl onions, peeled (definitely did not use these for the peeling alone; plus I couldn’t find them)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 12 black peppercorns
- Place chicken in a large stockpot.
- Tie whole carrots, leek, celery, and fennel fronds into a bundle and add to the pot with the chicken. Tie tarragon and thyme together and add to the pot. Toss in the peppercorns and the pearl onions, white wine, and 1 tablespoon of salt. Fill with water to just cover the chicken, put over a high heat and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, lower the heat to maintain a gentle boil for 20 minutes. Raise the heat back to high, to again achieve a rapid boil, turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour.
- Remove chicken from the pot and set aside to cool. Remove the bundle of vegetables, discard the fennel fronds and leek, and cut the carrots and celery on the bias into bite-sized pieces, reserve.
- Skin the chicken and pull all the meat from the bones, tearing into bite-sized pieces, reserve.
- Strain the cooking liquid through a fine meshed strainer into a clean saucepan, skim any fat from the top and set over medium high heat to reduce to 4 cups of concentrated stock, reserve.
- 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1” pieces.
- 2/3cup ice water
- 1teaspoon kosher salt
- (Ignore the above ingredients [and steps 1. and 2. below] if you, like me, want to use pre-made, store-bought shortcrust or puff pastry)
- Reserved chicken
- Reserved carrots
- Reserved pearl onions
- 10 fingerling potatoes (this is what I mean when I say “persnickety” – you could use regular potatoes, of course)
- 1 large fennel bulb, quartered and roasted (do not bother roasting this ahead of time, honestly)
- 10 ounces button mushrooms, thickly sliced and sauteed
- 1/2pound haricot verts, topped and tailed, blanched, refreshed, and chopped (just parboil the buggers)
- 1 1/2cups frozen green peas, thawed
- 1/4cup diced oven roasted tomatoes (store bought) (you could substitute sundried tomatoes like I did)
- 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
- 1/4 cup vermouth
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 8 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup creme fraiche
- 4 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon (couldn’t find this)
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
- 1 egg, whisked for egg wash
- Salt and pepper
- for the pastry crust – Place the flour into a bowl of a food processor, toss the butter on top, and pulse in short bursts until the butter is reduced to pea sized pieces. Add the salt to the water and stir to dissolve. Pour the water through the feed tube of the processor and pulse until the dough just starts to come together in a ball, you should still see some small butter chunks in the mix.
- Dump the dough out onto a well floured work surface, and divide it into two equal sized balls. Press each ball into a disc about an inch thick, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight.
- for the pot pie filling – Pre-heat the oven to 400?. Quarter the fennel bulb, and cut out the wedge shaped core. Toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until nicely caramelized. Remove from the oven, roughly chop and reserve.
- Place the fingerlings in a pan of cold water to cover. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a gentle boil and cook until just cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Drain, place on a cutting board, and cut into coins. Toss in a bowl with a touch EVOO and reserve.
- Sauté mushrooms in a little olive oil with salt and pepper, until caramelized. Add mustard seeds and vermouth, and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, reserve.
- Make a roux by melting the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan, add the flour, and whisk constantly for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the 4 cups of reduced stock, whisk until smooth. Put back on the heat, add the cream and creme fraiche, and cook, whisking, until the sauce thickens to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk in the mustard and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the minced tarragon and thyme, remove from heat to cool slightly.
- Put all filling ingredients (potatoes, tomatoes, onions, carrots, fennel, celery, haricot verts, mushrooms, and chicken) into a large mixing bowl, add the mustard velouté and mix well. Check for seasoning, reserve.
- Whisk the egg in a small bowl.
- Pour the filling to within 1/2” of the top of a 3” deep, 8-9” round soufflé dish (or other such ramekin or earthenware vessel)
- Roll the pastry dough on a well floured surface to about 1/8” thickness.
- Brush egg wash onto the rim of the ramekin and about halfway down the outside of the dish to hold the crust in place while baking.
- Place the rolled pastry on top of the pie, allowing about 2” to drape over the edges. Press into place to adhere to the dish, cut away any excess.
- Brush the entire crust with egg wash, and cut 8 small vent slits in the top. (I didn’t do this.) Put the pie on a sheet tray and place in the 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned, and the contents are seen bubbling through the vent holes. Remove from the oven and serve with a simple green salad.
- If you made it this far, I salute you.