Chicken Pot Pie tutorial – Pie Crust from Scratch

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I love chicken pot pie. As long as I can recall my mama bear would take out one of those frozen mini pot pie’s and I recall getting to excited about eating my favorite part, the crust & gravy. I also associate chicken pot pie with our family vacations, driving from Oregon down south to California. We usually would have are first stay over at Redding CA and stay at the Red Lion hotel. I recall getting to walk to my favorite restaurant Marie Calendars. Feeling the warm evening air and then walking into Marie’s smelling all the pies!! I always got the chicken pot pie. When I moved to New York there were no Marie Calendars (sad face).

One day a couple years after I moved to NY I saw Marie Calendars was now into the frozen food distribution. They had chicken pot pies!!! So I bought them up. I recall anxiously waiting for the pies to bake. I recall telling My Mr. Tasteful how much he is going to enjoy them, they are the best pies. Well I gobbled mine up and I was able to recall my childhood and the memories of my family. So I asked my Mr. Tasteful how he liked the pie (which I still do after every meal), his response “it was alright I’m not into chicken pot pie’s”. Well needless to say I did not buy them very often after that, for a couple reasons. The pies were close to $5.00 each. The other reason ill save for myself, don’t think someone wants to read on a food blog.

So I strived to make my own from scratch. I tried a pre-made crust and I also saw Tyler Florence make a chicken pot pie from scratch so I tried his recipe, which was good!

Now I don’t have those fancy tools like a Stand Mixer or a Food Processor that so many of today’s tv Chefs use. If you have these tools they do help speed up the process. I’m content without, so as always my instructions are for making pie crust by hand, the old fashion way.

I don’t recall ever learning this trick from someone else but I have learned if I ever want to google what I think is a “original” idea, yeah it’s usually not. So if I could give credit to tricks or recipes I will. But my big tip idea is from me as far as my subconscious can recall.

I have tried making various recipes for crust. My favorite recipe is from Carla Hall she is a pastry chef and is now a host on The Chew, one of my favorite shows. There WAS a instruction video for pie crust on the website but has been removed. The pie crust recipe on their website is wrong compared to the video, a simple typo that has not been corrected. I realized this after I went back to read the recipe. The recipe called for 1/3 cup of water, correction is 2/3 cup of water. The reason I love this recipe is because she introduced a issue I always ran into when I baked. She recommended dissolving the sugar & salt into the water. This allows for even distribution and you won’t find yourself having a salty piece of crust on one portion of the dough. This trick I apply to almost everything I do when it comes to baking.

Must Read Tip: For the longest time I’ve been cutting my butter into small pieces then “cutting” into the flour with my dough cutter. It’s a lot of work! I decided one day when I was making biscuits trying to use a microplain, good concept but it did not produce the results I needed. I wanted to try a cheese grater. My cheese grater has two sizes large and medium. I used the medium size. Now I store my extra butter in the freezer but if you don’t, you will want to place two sticks of butter in freezer for at least 30 min or longer, personally I say 2 hours to make sure it’s solid. I suggest placing the cheese grater in the freezer too for at least 15 min. Then take one stick of butter out at a time, lay a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter then place cheese grater ontop. I like to hold the butter paper while I grate the butter. Of course there is a point you need to let it go. I will say that I forgot the recipe called for two sticks of butter. So I had only one frozen stick of butter. I did not wait for my other stick to get frozen. I was able to grate the stick of butter however the butter was melting and I had to work fast. Once you grate your first stick of butter wrap the plastic wrap up and place back into freezer. Then work on the next stick of butter. Once both sticks have been grated I recommend keeping the grated butter in the freezer for 15 min.

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I also place the pre-measured flour in the bowl I will be using. I measure out sugar & salt place in the water let dissolve and then place all in the freezer, along with any tools I may need like a fork or my dough cutter. I do this before I start grating the butter.

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Pie Crust Recipe by Carla Hall If you want to follow her instruction please do, she uses a food processor please click here for Carla Hall directions
Now this is not a desert pie so I cut back on the sugar the recipe calls for. If you are making a desert pie use 1 tBs of sugar.

(Recipe makes two discs of dough)
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
2/3 cups of cold water
1 tSp of sea salt
2 tSp of white sugar
2 sticks of cold butter

(Incase you did not read my tip. Dissolve the sugar & salt in the water. Place butter in freezer for at least 30 min up to 2hrs)

Hopefully you pre-measured the flour and placed in the freezer to get cold. Take grated butter and place with flour, I used a fork to toss together gently start from bottom scoop up and toss. You are not going to mix it. You want to be gental.

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Once butter has been coated well with flour you need to use the pastry cutter and rock it back and forth throughout the flour, I say 10 or 15 rocks should cut. If you don’t have a pastry cutter use a fork. I skipped using my pastry cutter for the sake of those who don’t have one. I just take a fork and start from top and press down and just keep turning the bowl, go around the bowl at least once maybe twice. This is to break up any large pieces of butter and make flour is mixed in with butter.

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Now add the cold water, hopefully you dissolved the sugar & salt in the water.
Pour all the water in the dough and using fork toss together. You do not want to mix like your making a cake. The flour & water will come together and clump up.

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Lightly scoop into a ball shape, again you don’t need to squish it. Split ball in half. Lay out one piece onto plastic wrap then gently form into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer. Keep in refrigerator until ready or for at least 20-30 min. I have done 15 min when I’m in a hurry, that’s fine.

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Now lets get the filling ready. Okay I use this any time I have available, chicken grease (it’s like bacon grease) & then chicken base or liquid that turns into a thick gelatin. which I reserve from my roasted chicken. I keep in fridge if I know I will be using within 4 days, if not place in freezer. If you don’t have the chicken grease I use you can use a mixture of butter & oil. For the chicken gelatin use chicken stock.

To me every person is going to have their personal favorites or what you have leftover to add to the filling. I keep a stock of frozen vegetables. I personally do not like frozen carrots, but if you do then use you can use one of those mixed frozen bag of carrots. If you use a mixed vegetable you will just use the entire bag, at least a 16 oz bag or 20 oz bag depending on how deep your pie dish is. I have a deep dish pie. If you have a regular pie dish use the 16 oz bag.

Chicken. I use any leftover chicken I have. This time around I had a whole chicken breast left from my roasted chicken. You don’t need a lot of chicken. But you can add as little or as much as you want. I have also only had one thigh & drumstick worth of chicken and that’s still enough for me. I fill my pie with more vegetables so that I can stretch my filling when I lack chicken. Pleas realize I’m about budget cooking. I use what I have. I don’t go buy more ingredients. Chicken pot pie is a great use for leftovers.

Now again use what you have. This is what I used because its what I had available.

1/8 cup of frozen corn
1/4 cup of frozen green beans
1/4 cup of frozen peas
Diced 2 large carrots
Diced 1 large celery
Diced 1/2 of a large Spanish onion
1 large russet potato peeled & cubed/diced into all pieces (any potato is fine)
1/2 tSp dried Thyme
1/4 tSp sage powder
1/4 tSp garlic powder
1 chicken breast
Salt & Pepper….always season well.( I use roughly 2 tSp of salt)

Gravy: I make my own gravy. I use chicken grease & my chicken gelatin. If you don’t have. Use butter & chicken stock (or bouillon). You could even buy a gravy packet if you like, I would use 2 packets.

1 tBs plus 1 tSp of chicken grease or butter
4 tBs plus 1 tSp of flour
2 & 1/2 cups of chicken stock (or water if using chicken gelatin- if using gelatin you need about 1/2 cup)

Take frozen vegetables and place in warm water, stir around and set aside. This allows to defrost. Then dice up carrot, celery & onion.

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Heat a large skillet and place about 1 tSp of chicken grease or use butter and add a little oil (whichever oil you have).
Once the grease starts to form small bubbles or foam add carrots, celery & onions. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Then add dried thyme & sage. Let cook until onions are translucent, about 5 to 7 min on a medium low heat. Then add cubed potato, season with a little more salt & pepper (couple shakes). Then toss and let cook for 3-5 min on a medium low heat. Stirring occasionally.

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Drain frozen vegetables and add to mixture. Then add diced chicken. Season again with a dash of salt & pepper. Mix together let cook for 1 min. Then set aside.

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Gravy: if using a gravy packets follow directions on packet.

To make your own gravy: in a large pot melt butter or chicken grease. Then add flour and season with salt & pepper to taste. and let cook for 5 min or until a nice golden brown.

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Then at the same time whisk in a little water at a time. Once all the water is added keep whisking and let cook on a medium heat for 5-15 min until it gets thick. If gravy is to thin keep cooking and whisk occasionally while the liquid evaporates. Then remove from heat set aside.

Tip: I prefer a semi runny gravy not a thick gravy. If your gravy is to thick just add maybe 1 tBs of water at a time to thin it out. If its to thin do not add flour. You will need to cook flour in butter first add a little liquid then add into gravy.

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(I used gelatin which will melt with heat. Just add the chunks once all water has been added and keep whisking until the chicken gelatin is dissolved)

Now going back to pie crust. Take to large pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. I have a rubber matt I bought to line drawers, cost under $2 for roll. I use it under my plastic wrap or parchment paper while I roll out crust. OR lightly flour your counter if you don’t want to use plastic wrap or parchment paper. Just make sure to flour lightly.

Choose the largest disc of pie dough and use this for bottom of pie. Then place disc between two pieces of large parchment paper. Then using a rolling pin roll out. If you don’t have a rolling pin, I have used a glass bottle or can, takes forever but it is possible.

As you roll out dough, start in middle and push out, after each push turn dough slightly. Keep doing this until dough is large enough to fit into pie dish. It’s about 9inches wide around.

You can very lightly grease pie dish with a dab of oil or butter, just to guarantee crust doesn’t stick once you remove slices.

Then place dough inside pie dish. I then poke with a fork and sprinkle bottom with a little flour. If you happened to roll out your crust on a floured surface, you can skip this step. Place pie dish inside fridge to keep cool. Then roll out the 2nd disc.

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Pre-heat oven to 375.

Going back to filling: Combine gravy & chicken vegetables together and stir together.

Then pour into pie. Do not over flow pie, keep about 1 or 1/2 inch gap between filling & top of dish. If you have to much filling, just set it aside, you could use it in a soup or eat it later. FYI I put to much filling in.

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Now place the top pie crust over and pinch dough together. Then crimp, basically pinching with index finger and thumb, all around crust. Then take a sharp knife and create slits in the middle of dough. This is important so steam can escape.

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Then line a large cookie sheet with foil and place pie dish on top. You will want to do this to keep any bubbles from spilling to the bottom of your oven. Then place into the pre-heated 375 degree oven, I place on the bottom rack so this insures my bottom crust gets cooked., Then Place timer on for 30-45 min.

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See how crust is nice a brown? Why I like to place on bottom rack of oven.

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All ovens are different so check to see how brown the crust is getting at 30 min. If its still pale wait another 15.

Then after 30 or 45 min make an egg wash. Just take one egg whisk together well then brush onto pie. Then let it bake for another 15-20 min. I do the egg wash later in the baking process because if I did it in the beginning the pie would start to look like its done before the dough actually is. This way my crust won’t get burnt early on.

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Once the pie looks nice and brown about 15-20 min, the pie is done!

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I highly recommend letting the Chicken Pot Pie to cool. I was starving!! I only let it cool for 10 min. Problem with that was my filling did not have time to cool so it didn’t run.

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You can let the pie cool for 30-45 min, which I say it a good thing. This is a great recipe to start early. Plan for 2 hrs from start to finish. If you are making pie crust for the first time by hand just give yourself an extra 30 min. If your pie has cooled for 30 min and those you are serving have not arrived to the dinner table. You could always place back into oven. Making sure it’s off. If oven feels cold, you can place temperature to 150 to keep warm.

This is what pie slices looked like after it had been cooling in the pie dish…of course filling was tighter but not thick because it had fallen down from the other slices I had removed early on.

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It’s a great chicken pot pie and making your own crust is worth all the work! It taste great!

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