Chicken Pot Pie with Herbed Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup cold solid vegetable shortening cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water
Heat oven to 400°F.
Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in enough cold water with a fork until flour is moistened. Shape into a ball and flatten slightly. Wrap in plastic food wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. (Thawed puff pastry sheets can be used instead of making your own pastry).
4 large cooked chicken breasts, shredded or cubed (good way to use left-over rotisserie chicken)
4 cups chicken stock (I use unsalted Kitchen Basics brand but homemade is always best)
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 small or 1 large bay leaves
4 springs fresh thyme, if you have some
2 large carrots cut into ½ inch pieces
1 Small leek or onion cut into ½ inch pieces
1 or 2 stalks of celery cut in ½ inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas, thawed and drained
Place the 4 cups of chicken stock in a stock pot. Place the peppercorns, bay leaves and thyme sprigs into a square piece of cheesecloth and secure with kitchen twine, and add to the stock. Bring stock to a boil. Add the chopped leeks or onions, celery and carrot and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the vegetables are just barely tender – about 15 minutes. Remove vegetables and cheesecloth bag from the stock and set aside. Strain stock and set aside. Discard cheesecloth bag.
Sauce for filling
4 Tablespoons butter
5 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 Cup heavy cream or light cream (half & half)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in the same stock pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour and then cook, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Add the stock all at once and whisk constantly until the sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add the cream and thyme and simmer for several minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vegetables, chicken pieces and peas to the sauce and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
Roll out pastry dough to fit oven-proof dishes. If using puff pastry, brush with an egg wash diluted with 1 teaspoon water before baking.
Spoon the filling into oven-proof serving dishes and cover with pastry, trimming excess pastry. (I use two small 2-quart Pyrex baking dishes 10 x 6 x 1.7" (25 x 15 x 4 cm) or four, 8-oz oval baking dishes). Use any remaining dough to cut out shapes to decorate. Make a few small cuts into the crust to vent.
Bake in preheated oven until crust in golden brown, for about 45-50 minutes.