Elegant comfort food! This is a nice pot pie!
The thought of stewed chicken in a casserole dish that has a piece of pre-baked puff pastry plopped on top being called a chicken pot pie really cracks me up. There are many chefs that serve that style of pot pie. To me, that is like serving instant hollandaise sauce to a customer. For doing some unspeakable act like that, I would have a guilt ridden conscience for the rest of my life!
The original pies from the dark ages were simply a method of keeping food safe to eat, for a longer period of time. The original pie doughs were not considered to be edible. The dough encased the food like a tin can and it was cooked till it was very dark. Several days or weeks later, the hard dough was cracked open and the ingredients inside were eaten. Keep in mind that the fall, winter and spring temperatures of europe are cool enough to keep spoilage to a minimum. This "pie dough canning method" of the dark ages in europe was actually unknowingly one of the first canning sterilization and pasteurization methods.
Later, when the "pie dough encased preservation method" evolved, the crust became an edible part of the meal. That was the start of modern pies. Pies were always surrounded by a dough crust! Savory pies were the only pies of that time period, because sweet sugar and most pie fruits were not yet commonly available. Fruit was eaten as fruit.
Modern meat pies are descendant of the first original meat pies that had edible crusts. There is a lot of well respected tradition that goes into the making of a true English or German meat pie. These traditions started well over 500 years ago. According to tradition, a meat pie is surround by crust! Placing a piece of puff pastry on top of a bowl of stew and calling it a meat pie is a real joke!
For this recipe, I did get a little bit fancy and I did lattice the top of the pie crust. That is about as non-traditional as my meat pie recipes get. My meat pies are free standing, just like the earliest modern meat pies and they are not served in a pie tin or casserole dish. At the English pub, where I was the chef, The English, Irish and German customers really liked the old traditional meat pie presentations.
Chicken pot pie is a meat pie, no matter how fancy the ingredients are. So, make the chicken pot pie look like a traditional meat pie, even if you decide to make a lattice crust top on the pie!
Pate brisee can be made in a mixer with a dough hook at a low speed. Be careful not to over mix the dough! As soon as the dough clumps together, then it is done mixing. The less a pate brisee is kneaded, the more flaky the pie crust will be!
Place 2 cups of flour into a mixing bowl.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Rice the flour by adding a few drops of ice water at a time while stirring with a whisk. (The flour should look like grains of rice and the flour should not look wet.)
Cut 3 ounces of unsalted butter into pea size pieces and drop them in a bowl of ice water.
Add a few pieces of the chilled hard butter at a time to the riced flour, while gently pressing the riced flour onto the butter pieces.
Work the dough lightly with your fingers, for a minimal period of time, leaving exposed small pieces of butter.
Chill the dough, till it becomes firm.
Roll the pate brisee into a thin sheet on a floured counter top. (The sheet of pate brisee should show streaks of butter! This is what will give the pate brisee a flakey crusty texture.)
Refrigerate the sheet of pate brisee.
Chicken and Asparagus Pot Pie Filling Recipe:
Boil 2 cups of chicken stock in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
Add about 5 or 6 ounces of large bite size pieces of chicken thighs.
Add 1 very small handful of each of these coarsely chopped vegetables:
Add 1 chopped green onion.
Add 1 small handful of thin sliced asparagus stalks. (Use the tender part of the stalk and save the tips for another recipe. Peel the asparagus if necessary.)
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 2 pinches of marjoram.
Add 2 pinches of chopped Italian parsley.
Add 2 pinches of sage.
Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
Simmer till the vegetables become al dente.
The broth should just be barely covering the ingredients at this time. Adjust the level of broth if necessary.
Cook 2 ounces of flour and and 2 ounces unsalted butter over medium heat in a sauce pot, while stirring, to create a roux.
Cook till the roux becomes a white color.
Add just enough of the white roux to the pot pie mixture in the sauce pot, while stirring, to thicken the broth to a medium thick sauce consistency.
Add 1 splash of cream.
Add 1 small splash of milk.
Stir and reduce the pot pie filling, till the sauce becomes a medium thick consistency.
The sliced asparagus will dissolve and combine with the sauce, to become the key flavor of the pot pie.
Finally, add 1 small handful of peas.
Remove the pot pie mixture from the heat and set aside to let it cool to room temperature.
Chill the filling, till it becomes a little bit leas than room temperature.
Asparagus and Chicken Pot Pie:
Lightly brush a small pop ring mold with butter.
Roll a thin sheet of Pate Brisee.
Drape the pie dough sheet over the ring mold and gently press it into place.
Trim the edges, so the rim of the ring mold is covered by the dough.
Spoon the cool chicken pot pie filling into the dough lined ring mold.
Re-roll the excess pie dough into a sheet.
Cut long thin ribbon strips from the pie dough sheet.
Place the strips of pate brisee dough on top of the pot pie in a lattice pattern.
Trim the edges vertically square and flush to the ring mold.
Gently roll the edge of the dough crust barely inside the ring mold rim. (This step will make popping the ring easy when the pie is done baking. If you do this step, then you will not break the crust when removing the pop ring mold.)
Brush the exposed dough lightly with milk.
Bake in a 350 degree oven, till the crust becomes a golden color.
Carefully and gently remove the pop ring mold.
Slide the pot pie onto a plate and garnish with parsley sprigs.
This way of making a free standing chicken pot pie is well worth the effort! This pot pie is elegant and it has an outstanding flavor. The mild herbs and the asparagus give this pot pie very nice aroma!
May I suggest a Les Jamelles Marsanne Vin de Pays d 'Oc French wine to go with the chicken pot pie entree? This Langeudoc region French white wine has a lemony flavor and it is a classic choice for accompanying a nice chicken pot pie. Yum! ... Shawna