I insist on rubbing it in, I made this pie from scratch!
I decided to make chicken pot pie for no reason whatsoever yesterday and I wanted to make it from scratch. That meant making my own pie crust. And rolling it out. I’ve done it before but with two pastry chefs next to me to hold my hand through it in the comfort of a cooking show set. I wanted to do it alone in the discomfort of my tiny kitchen which made me very nervous but hey, I like to live on the edge like that.
I found this godsend of a recipe for pie crust (lots of helpful tips, too!) while browsing for one that didn’t require a food processor. A pastry cutter! Of course! For the filling, I loosely followed the ingredients of this recipe but prepared it a slightly different way.
To make the pie crust, you’ll need:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus extra for dusting
1 T sugar
1 t salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup ice water
1. I think this is the first time I didn’t have to worry about my butter not being at room temperature. How refreshing! The butter actually has to be very cold. So. Cut your butter into cubes like this and leave it in the freezer while you get everything else ready.
2. By ‘everything else’ I mean not only the other ingredients but your tools and working area, too. Keeping everything cold really is the name of the game so once the dough comes together and has been rested, you need to work pretty fast to keep the temperature of the dough from dropping too much. Now would be a good time to get your rolling area ready with cling wrap, rolling pin, pastry cutter, measuring spoons and cups, flour for dusting and whatever else you think you’ll need. I personally recommend a glass of wine to calm the nerves. Oh, and a bowl with about a cup of water and ice cubes. That’s not a suggestion. Once your station is ready, whisk the flour, sugar and salt in a big bowl.
3. By now, the butter should be ready. Retrieve it from the freezer and add to the bowl. Break up the butter pieces with the pastry cutter until they turn into roughly the size of peas. They won’t all be even and that’s fine. The most important thing is to work fast so you still have little pieces of very cold butter mixed with the flour.
4. When done, drizzle in 1/2 cup of ice water (don’t include ice cubes). Switch to a silicone spatula and mix the dough. You’ll need to add about 1/4 cup more ice water but add them in gradually a tablespoon at a time (that’s 4 more tablespoons) between mixing with the spatula to see how it comes together.
5. When big clumps of dough start to form like this, you’re done.
6. Get your hands in there and knead it gently into a mound.
Halve this dough and cover each half with cling wrap. As you bring the sides of your cling wrap to the middle, press down to flatten so you end up with a disk. Refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably 2. It will keep in the refrigerator for a week, longer in the freezer, if you want to do this ahead of time.
While the dough is resting in the fridge, we can make the filling. You’ll need:
3 skinless chicken breast fillets
1 1/2 t dried thyme
olive oil to drizzle
1 cup carrots
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup celery
1 medium onion
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups milk
About 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t celery seed
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. For some reason, I was very averse to boiling the chicken with the vegetables. I roasted my chicken instead. Preheat the oven to 175 C/350 F. Generously season the chicken breast fillets with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle dried thyme and drizzle with olive oil on both sides. Roast for 35 minutes. Set aside to cool when done. While the chicken is roasting, chop up the carrots, celery and onion.
2. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add in chopped carrots, celery, onion and the frozen peas. Cook until the vegetables lose their firmness, about 12 minutes.
3. Add in the garlic powder, celery seed, salt, freshly ground black pepper and flour. Stir until all the flour gets absorbed.
4. Gradually pour in the milk. Keep stirring to help dissolve the flour. Gradually stir in chicken stock. Lower the heat and stir frequently until it thickens.
5. Chop the roasted chicken breast into bite-sized pieces. Add in to mixture in the skillet and stir. Chicken pie filling, yay! Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste. Cover and set aside.
By the time my filling was ready, I had a few minutes left for my resting dough to hit the one hour mark. I gulped down some wine and willed myself to stop hyperventilating. Besides, you can always bring back the dough to the fridge if you think it’s becoming too soft. Lezdodis.
1. Preheat the oven to 190 C/375 F. Liberally flour your rolling surface. Don’t be afraid of flour, you can always tap off the excess. Have your pie dish nearby. The most suitable rolling surface I could manage was my biggest chopping board with cling wrap wrapped around it.
2. Retrieve one of the dough disks and unwrap the cling wrap. Place on top of your floured rolling surface. Liberally flour the top of the dough. Roll out with a rolling pin until you reach the desired thickness, flouring along the surface and dough as needed. There seem to be some rules about rolling in one direction and rotating and whatnot but I just rolled it out as I saw fit being careful not to tear it. Even if I did, I’m guessing you can tear off a piece and do some patchwork magic? I don’t have a rolling pin so I used the cardboard center of an old roll of cling wrap. Hee.
3. When done, loosely fold the dough into quarters (or you can loosely roll the dough around the rolling pin like a scroll) and bring it to your pie dish so the corner sits on the middle of the dish. Unfold the dough and lightly push down so it covers the inside of the pie dish. Tear off the excess and push the dough on the sides outward so it adheres. All this probably sounds like gibberish to you so do yourself a favor and click here.
4. Retrieve the second disk and roll that out, too. When it’s ready to go, fill the pie dish with the chicken filling.
5. Bring the rolled out dough to the pie dish the same way you did the first one. Tear off excess so you have a sheet of dough that is slightly larger than your pie dish. Lightly press down so it meets the pie dish. It will naturally also meet the first sheet of dough and they will seal. Fold over the excess and press a fork down the edges to decorate. My pie filling was still very warm and it was starting to make my dough a little sticky. My first attempt at cutting slits on top (to allow air to escape while the pie bakes) turned out looking really sloppy. It’s much better to stab the dough. Stab it! This dough is not the boss of me!
6. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. I watched the thing like a hawk. I guess it was the boss of me. I didn’t mind. Just look at this thing.
‘Did I really make this thing or am I drunk?’
I had some leftover dough and pie filling so I made 2 mini chicken pot pies. Only had enough dough to cover the top actually. But I was emboldened by my first pie and made leaves with the scraps. I don’t know what business leaves have hanging out on top of chicken pies but whatever. Check check check it.
And now, for a look inside. You’re supposed to let the pie set for 10 minutes before serving but I just couldn’t help hacking into the thing.
The crust is delicious – buttery and flaky, so worth the trouble. I think the pie filling was a bit underseasoned. When tasting the pie filling, remember that you’ll be eating it on and under a crust so season juuuust to the left of over. Also, keep an eye on it as it bakes. Some of the stabs I made on the pie crust closed at some point like some miraculous healing because the dough was so sticky. If they do, just stab it again. I should really stop saying ‘stab’.
All in all, I couldn’t be happier with my first pie from scratch. That’s right, from scratch. Yay! I love pie! I love life! I love you all!
Fun Food Fact: The crust of the world’s first pot pies were not eaten. Its purpose was to create a barrier between the filling and the metal pot that it was cooked in.