I used to LOVE LOVE LOVE the chicken pot pie at Mimi’s Cafe, a chain restaurant across the nation. However, the more I cook at home, the less I like eating out. I can taste the superior flavor of home-cooked meals; plus, I like knowing what goes into my food.
Several months ago, I ate out at Mimi’s with a friend of mine; we both the love the chicken pot pie and would go there occasionally to get our fix. However, the last time I ate it, I knew it would definitely be the last time eating it there…or any other restaurant, for that matter. I’ve just gotten snobby about food! The pot pies I make at home as well as this particular dish taste supremely better!!
Today’s post is a variation on chicken pot pie, which I first made back in September 2010 when Cook’s Illustrated featured it in their magazine. Although I’ve made it since then, I’m finally getting around to taking photos of it so I can finally share it with you.
Rather than individual pies covered in pastry, this presents itself in casserole form with nuggets of peppery dough dotting the top, allowing an alternative to the pastry covering. These nuggets taste just as delicious as a pastry cover–if not more–because they have loads of spiciness in them from two types of pepper as well as Parmesan cheese. The dough nuggets, baked separately, are then added atop the actual filling for a final round of heating…that is, if you have any left; I have a hard time resisting snacking on these miniature “biscuits” while making the rest of the recipe.
The filling in this dish is very similar to the pot pies I’ve made before. It’s a bit of work but not overly time-consuming–just some chopping, dicing, and sautéing. Making the dough nuggets for the topping, though, is quicker and easier than a pastry crust. I imagine you could make the filling ahead of time, refrigerate it overnight, and make the topping the next day.
If you love chicken pot pies, I highly recommend you find time to make this dish. It’s high on the list of savory goodness as well as extremely hearty and filling–perfect comfort food for winter.
Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. table salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, but into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
- 1 ounce (about 1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1 1/2 pounds cooked, shredded chicken, which is about 3 cups (either cook your own or use store-bought rotisserie chicken; I keep shredded roasted chicken frozen in baggies for meals like this one)
- 1 3/4 cup frozen peas & carrots
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 small celery ribs, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (TIP: I use an egg slicer to speed up this process)
- 1 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. tomato paste (TIP: if using canned paste, freeze leftover paste in ice-cube trays, then store in freezer bags; my trays make about a tbsp. size cube, which is handy to know when I need a particular amount)
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
- To prepare topping: Turn oven to 450 degrees F and adjust oven rack to upper-middle position.
- In a food processor, pulse flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper until blended (this entire topping process can also be done without a food processor, but it is a little more labor intensive without).
- Add cubed, cold butter; pulse until flour and butter mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
- Add Parmesan; pulse a few times until just combined.
- Slowly add heavy cream while pulsing.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, then crumble topping onto it in pieces about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch in size.
- Bake until starting to turn brown, about 10-13 minutes. Set aside.
- To prepare filling: Dice or shred cooked chicken (roast chicken, Mel’s Kitchen Cafe method, or your favorite method for preparing chicken). Place in a large bowl.
- Add frozen peas and carrots to the chicken; mix.
- In a Dutch oven or large pan, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion, celery, mushrooms, salt, and pepper; stir. Cover pot and cook until tender, 5-7 minutes, and mushrooms have released their juices.
- Remove cover and increase heat to medium-high. Stir in soy sauce and tomato paste, stirring, until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are well browned and dark fond begins to form on surface of pan, about 5 minutes. Add vegetables to bowl with chicken, peas, and carrots; mix.
- To prepare sauce: Mix chicken broth and milk in an easy-to-pour container; momentarily set aside.
- Melt butter over medium heat, allowing butter to foam. When foaming subsides, stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
- Add milk/broth in small increments, whisking well after each addition (I find adding a bit at a time works for me; otherwise, I tend to develop lumps that stubbornly remain). Bring to a simmer until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and parsley; stir.
- Add sauce to bowl with chicken and vegetables, mixing thoroughly; pour into 13 X 9-inch baking dish. Evenly distribute topping over filling.
- Place baking dish on rimmed baking sheet (to catch any overspill during baking) and bake at 450 degrees F for about 15 minutes; filling should be hot and bubbling while topping should be browned and crispy. Sprinkle with parsley for garnish and serve.
SOURCE: Cook’s Illustrated magazine, Sept/Oct 2010 issue