Why It Works
- Whole wheat flour helps the bottom crust stay crisp, despite the high liquid content of the filling.
- Lightly poached chicken intensifies the meatiness of the stock, while remaining juicier and more tender after baking than leftover roast chicken.
- Cold-poaching bone-in chicken in stock, along with vegetables and aromatics, creates an even more concentrated base.
- Gelatin adds body to the filling without the excessive richness of cream.
- A blond roux thickens and flavors the filling.
- Pimentos provide a splash of color and a hint of smoky sweetness.
- Worcestershire sauce adds savory depth.
This is the chicken pot pie I grew up with, based on my mother's recipe and updated with Daniel's technique for cold-poached chicken, crossed with his basic chicken stock. The result is a super-concentrated broth for the filling, with tender chunks of chicken that stay juicy even after baking. I love it best with the nutty crunch of a flaky whole wheat crust, which will bake up crisp even on the bottom of the pie.
- For the Crust:
- Flaky, Tender, and Nutty Whole Wheat Pie Crust
- Additional whole wheat flour, for dusting
- For the Chicken:
- 2 quarts (1.9L) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
- 4 1/2 pounds (2kg) bone-in, skin-on chicken legs, thighs, and breasts
- 1 large onion, diced (about 8 ounces; 2 cups; 225g)
- 2 large carrots, diced (about 8 ounces; 1 1/3 cups; 225g)
- 2 large celery ribs, diced (about 5 ounces; 3/4 cup; 140g)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- For the Filling:
- 1/2 ounce unflavored gelatin (4 1/2 teaspoons; 15g)
- 1/4 cup (55ml) reserved chicken stock, cooled
- 4 ounces unsalted butter (8 tablespoons; 115g)
- 4 ounces all-purpose flour (1 cup minus 1 tablespoon; 115g)
- 1 medium onion, diced (about 7 ounces; 1 2/3 cups; 200g)
- 1 large carrot, diced (4 ounces; 3/4 cup; 115g)
- 1 large celery rib, diced (4 ounces; 3/4 cup; 115g)
- 1/2 cup (115ml) dry white wine
- 1 quart (900ml) reserved chicken stock
- 5 ounces frozen peas (1 heaping cup; 140g)
- 3 ounces drained and diced pimento peppers (1/2 cup; 85g), or more to taste (see note)
- 1 3/4 teaspoons (7g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 1/4 ounce fresh thyme leaves (about 1 teaspoon; 7g)
- 1 teaspoon (5g) freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7ml) Worcestershire sauce
- 28 ounces poached chicken, from above (4 cups, shredded; 795g), or more to taste
- For the Egg Wash (optional):
- 1 large egg, straight from the fridge
- 1/2 ounce heavy cream (1 tablespoon; 15ml)
- 1/8 teaspoon (0.5g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
For the Crust: Prepare a double batch of Flaky, Tender, and Nutty Whole Wheat Pie Crust as directed. Divide dough in half and roll each half into a thin sheet, around 3/16 inch thick, using as much flour as needed to prevent sticking along the way. Transfer pieces to a half sheet pan, cover tightly with foil, and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 48 hours before using.
For the Chicken: Combine chicken stock, chicken parts, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, parsley, rosemary, and bay leaf in a 5-quart stainless steel pot or saucier. Cover and place over medium-high heat until stock registers about 150°F (66°C) on a digital thermometer.
Adjust heat to maintain that temperature, plus or minus 10°F, and cook until thickest part of chicken registers 135°F (57°C), about 1 hour. Remove chicken with tongs, set aside on a rimmed platter, and cover loosely. Strain stock through a mesh sieve into a large bowl, discard solids, and set stock aside to cool.
For the Filling: Combine gelatin and 1/4 cup (55ml) cooled stock in a small bowl and whisk until no lumps remain; set aside. In a 5-quart saucier, melt butter over medium-low heat, then whisk in flour. Stir with a heat-resistant spatula until roux is fragrant and a nutty blond color, about 5 minutes (it's okay to adjust the heat if this seems to be happening too slowly). Stir in diced onion, carrots, and celery and continue cooking and stirring until vegetables are slightly softened, about 7 minutes more.
Add white wine and 1 quart reserved stock, stirring constantly until smooth; remaining stock from poaching can be reserved for another use. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it begins to bubble, remove from heat. Stir in frozen peas, diced pimentos, and prepared gelatin, followed by salt, thyme, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until gelatin has fully melted into sauce and adjust seasonings to taste.
Shred or dice reserved chicken, discarding skin and bones, then stir into filling. Transfer to a large but shallow container, such as a 9- by 13-inch baking dish, to increase the surface area and speed cooling. Refrigerate, uncovered, stirring from time to time, until no warmer than 50°F (10°C), about 1 hour. If it better suits your schedule, the filling can be covered and refrigerated up to 3 days, or frozen in an airtight container for 3 months.
To Assemble: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). With a sharp knife, cut 1 sheet of chilled dough into 6 roughly equal squares. Nestle each one into the bottom of a 2-cup-capacity oven-safe dish. Cut 6 "lids" from remaining sheet of pastry with a sharp knife, using an overturned 2-cup baking dish as your guide; alternatively, cut with an appropriately large cookie cutter. Set pastry lids aside and use scraps to patch gaps in coverage along the bottom crusts, all the way to the top edge of each dish.
Divide filling evenly between dishes, about 1 1/2 cups each (12 ounces; 340g), although the exact amount will vary with the specific amount of vegetables and chicken used. Top each dish with a pastry lid and gently crimp the edges with a fork to seal pastry to bottom crust.
For the Egg Wash (if using): Whisk egg, cream, and salt in a small bowl. Brush over top crust of each pie in a thin, even layer. This will give the crust a glossy golden sheen.
Transfer dishes to a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbling-hot, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving, to allow the filling to thicken and reach a safe temperature to enjoy. Covered in foil, leftovers can be refrigerated up to 3 days and reheated to serve.
If you can't find them alongside jars of pickles and olives at the store, look for pimento peppers at the supermarket salad bar.