Personal Pot Pie

I overheard one of those ‘keeper’ conversations yesterday coming from the other room. Caleb asked Mateo, “Poppa, am I Hindi or Budi?” I couldn’t help but giggle to myself. Mateo replied, “Well, neither, you’re Jewish. But, did you mean Hindu or Buddhist?” Caleb responded “Yeah, am I Hindist or Buddhist?” Mateo’s response…”you’re still Jewish.” Mateo and I both laughed out loud. Who knew that at five, my son would already be taking on world religions? I needed to take on something simpler with him – a recipe.

I recently read a post on Dinner: A Love Story, a blog that I enjoy, about making monogrammed chicken pot pies with sweet potatoes. I fell in love with the idea of trying this at home with Caleb. He loves yams, and pot pies are always a hit at our dinner table. Plus, what kid wouldn’t love their very own tiny pot pie with their name written on it? This big kid adores the idea!

We’ve made chicken pot pie before, and my favorite recipe is from the New Best Recipe cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen. Inspired by the personalized pot pie idea, I decided to take our tried-and-true recipe, substitute yams for carrots, and set off on a personal pot pie adventure with my son.

Assembling the ingredients was simple. Caleb helped to peel the yams and dice the celery (with mom watching closely, of course). Once we had all of the ingredients combined, we poured the pot pie filling into a larger casserole for the family, and a small ramekin, just for Caleb. At this point, Caleb took a break to watch a rainy Sunday movie, The Muppets Take Manhattan. Not that this was hard work, but I enjoyed going at a relaxed pace, and I’m sure he did too. We forget to slow down on the weekends after racing through the week at a frantic pace, but kids have a natural inclination to do so. Note to grownup: take a lesson from your kid!

While Mateo, Caleb, and Sadie were on an outing, I rolled out the pie dough and placed on top of both pies. Using both hands, I rolled out tiny little letters for the pies. I enjoyed the time in the kitchen to myself and was excited to surprise Caleb later with his personal pot pie.

Closer to dinner, we reconvened the pot pie session and brushed the top of our pies with the egg wash. Caleb has done this before, and I enjoyed stepping back and watching the master at work. I watched as he spelled out his name on his pie and smiled from ear to ear. “Mine says Caleb!” I knew he’d love that!

It doesn’t get much better than eating chicken pot pie on a rainy Sunday evening, sitting around the dinner table with your family. The pot pie was delicious and Caleb devoured his with quiet intention. What a fun thing – to eat food with your name on it. Now, I’m eager to think of other edible wonders that we can personalize together.

The Best Chicken Pot Pie

Adapted from the New Best Recipe cookbook. Serves 6 to 8.

Ingredients

1 box of pie dough from Trader Joe’s

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I use the brand Better than Bullion)

1 ½ tbs vegetable oil

1 medium-large onion, chopped fine

1 large or two small yams, large dice

2 small celery ribs, cut crosswise ¼ inch thick

Salt and ground pepper to taste

4 tbs (1/2) stick unsalted butter

½ cup unbleached flour

1 ½ cups milk

½ tsp dry sherry

¾ cups frozen peas, thawed

1 egg for wash (mix with a fork in a small bowl)

Method

  1. Take pie dough out of freezer to defrost at room temperature
  2. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the chicken and broth in a small Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Cover, bring to a simmer, and simmer until the chicken is just done, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a large bowl, reserving the broth for a measuring cup.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high and heat the oil in the now-empty pan. Add the onion, yam, and celery and sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. While the vegetables are sautéing, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Transfer the cooked veggies to a bowl with the chicken; set aside.
  4. Heat the butter over medium heat in the again-empty pan. When the foaming subsides, add the flour; cook about 1 minute. Whisk in the reserved chicken broth, the milk, any accumulated chicken juices, and the thyme.  Bring to a simmer, then continue to simmer until the sauce fully thickens, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and stir in sherry.
  5. Pour the sauce over the chicken mixture into individual ramekins, or split between one larger casserole and one or two ramekins for the kids. Top with the pie dough; wash with egg whites; and have fun personalizing your pie. Be sure to poke a few vent holes in the top of the pie. Bake until pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 30 minutes for the large pot pie and about 20 minutes for the smaller ones. Serve hot.

Authors note: I often make this recipe on Sunday night for the week. I pour the filling into a large lasagna pan and top with biscuit dough cut out in rounds. When we’re ready to serve, each person gets their own biscuit topping. This has been a huge hit in our home.

Original recipe from Dinner: A Love Story – Monogrammed Pot Pie