From a very early age, I always knew when my parents were going out and leaving us with a babysitter_ I would hear the freezer door open, the sound of something solid dropping onto a cookie sheet and about 30 minutes later, the smell of pie crust would permeate the air. As with most kids, I hated being left at home while my mom and dad went out, but I sure did love chicken pot pie so things kind of evened out. To me, there are few meals more comforting than crisp, flaky pie crust covering a creamy blend of chicken and veggies. I wanted to recreate that great childhood food memory with this recipe, but I needed to make it healthier than the Swanson frozen variety pot pie I had as a kid.
On the whole Kenya is a pretty amazing eater, but the night that I took these individual pot pies out of the oven he took one look at them and said, "I don't want it". My feelings were totally hurt, but I also know how finicky and temperamental toddlers can be, so I decided not to push him and see what happened. I let Kenya continue to play in the kitchen and about 15 minutes later I saw him wander over to where the pies were cooling, take a fork and investigate his little pie. He took one bite and said, "I love it". No joke. He went from unwilling to try it to loving it in a matter of minutes and I didn't have to do anything but be patient. If there is one thing that I've learned time and again when it comes to kids and eating, it's that pushing things on them almost always makes them more resistant to try new foods. When you let kids discover things for themselves, it gives them an ownership over what they eat and a sense of discovery with food that just can't be achieved by cajoling, sneaking, persuading or begging.
Just giving Kenya a bit of space allowed him to fall in love with chicken pot pie all by himself. Now, if I could only figure out how to get my husband to take me out on a date I could relive my entire childhood pot pie memory!
Chicken Pot Pie (4 individual ramekins)
- 4 Tbsp Butter, chilled and cubed
- 4 Tbsp Shortening or Lard, chilled and cubed
- 1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 2 3 Tbsp Ice Water
- 2 Cups or 1 14 oz Can Chicken Broth (I use low sodium)
- 2 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless (about 1 Lb)
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1 Small Onion, minced
- 2 Stalks of Celery, diced
- 2 Carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 Tsp Fresh or 1/2 Tsp Dried Thyme
- 3 Tbsp Flour
- 1 Cup Milk*
- 1 Cup Peas (I use frozen)
1. Place the first 4 ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it resembles coarse cornmeal.
2. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of the water in the food processor and pulse a few times until the dough starts to come together.
3. Place the dough of a piece of parchment or plastic wrap and gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk.
4. Refrigerate the pie crust dough for 30 minutes or until chilled.
1. In a saucepan, bring chicken stock and chicken breasts to a boil, reduce to a simmer, partially covered for 12 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts to a plate, reserving the chicken broth, and when cool, cut the chicken into bite size chunks.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook the onions for 4 minutes or until translucent.
3. Add the celery, carrots and thyme and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
4. Melt the remaining 3 tbsp of butter into the vegetables and sprinkle 3 tbsp of flour over and stir to make a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes stirring to coat the vegetables.
5. Add the milk, reserved chicken broth, chopped chicken and peas and simmer over low to medium for 10 minutes or until thick and creamy. Add salt to taste.
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
7. Place 1/4 of the mixture in 4 10 oz ramekins or 1 large ramekin.
8. Dust a flat surface with flour and roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick (about the size of a pie plate).
9. Place the ramekins on the dough upside-down and cut 1/2 inch wider around to make the top crust of the pot pie.
10. Place the cut-out dough on top of the ramekin and gently pinch the sides, pressing it to make it stick.
11. Using the tip of a knife, make 3 slits on top of the dough (to allow ventilation).
12. Place ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
13. Cool and serve.