Eating Right-ish: A Healthy Take on Chicken Pot Pie

A chef explains how to make a version of the winter classic that’s a little easier on your waistband.

chicken-pot-pie

As we head deeper into another frigid winter, you’re probably thinking about comfort food. Trouble with comfort food is, it’s not so comforting for your gut. That’s why we asked Drew Coleman, Executive Chef at Mohawk Bend in Los Angeles, to give us a healthier version of the season’s most delicious treat, chicken pot pie. Over to you, Drew.

Healthier Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is a classic dish that’s very comforting and delicious, especially during the cold days and nights of winter. Known for its buttery crust and creamy filling, it can be pretty heavy on your stomach—and your heart. In this recipe, I removed dairy from the filling and replaced it with a toasty roux and roasted chicken stock to add bolder flavor. Since roux tends to be made with butter, I replaced the yellow stuff with extra virgin olive oil—besides the large amounts of antioxidants and its ability to help prevent heart disease, extra virgin olive oil does not contribute to weight gain or obesity. Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Chicken Stock:

A note about the stock: If you don’t feel like making this at home, you can buy chicken stock or broth from the store, but you’ll be losing out on some flavor (not to mention the wonderful aroma floating around your home). This recipe makes around seven cups.

  • 3-4 pounds chicken bones (if you cannot source bones, chicken wings will do)
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 2 ½ cups roughly chopped carrots
  • 2 ½ cups roughly chopped celery
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • ½ bunch Italian parsley
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 head of garlic, split in half

Step 1 – The Roast

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet or roasting pan with foil and arrange the bones or wings in a single layer with the vegetables. Once oven reaches temperature, roast the chicken and veggies for 30-40 minutes, until dark brown.

Step 2 – The Simmer

Once finished, pour off rendered the fat and discard. Place veggies and bones in a pot with the spices and the water—bring it all to a boil, then reduce the heat to bring the stock to a slight simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours, making sure to skim off any foam that forms at the top.

Step 3 – The Strain

Pour the stock into a strainer and discard the bones, veggies and spices. At this point, you can skim off all of the fat that rises to the top, too. Alternatively, if you’ve made this stock well in advance of the rest of the recipe, you can put it in the fridge and skim off the fat once it solidifies at the top.

Chicken Pot Pie:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • The chicken stock you already made, or TKTK store bought chicken stock or broth
  • 2 cups carrots, cut into coins
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 lb English peas (fresh is best, but frozen will work too)
  • 1 package pie crust
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 4 oven proof single serving bowls or one large baking dish (up to you, depending on how you would like to serve it)

Step 1 – The Chicken

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breasts on a sheet and cook for 30 minutes, or until cooked all the way through. Remove from oven and let cool to the point that they can be handled and cut into small cubes.

Step 2 – The Vegetables

In a large pot, heat the extra virgin olive oil and add the onions. Reduce heat, making sure not to burn the onions or the oil (olive oil has a low smoke point, so it can burn if using high heat while cooking). Stir and cook the onions until they become translucent, then add the carrots and celery and sauté for five more minutes.

Step 3 – The Roux

Stir in the flour and continue to cook over a low heat. It’s important to stir constantly, making sure not to burn the flour. Continue cooking until the flour is the color of peanut butter—if it gets too dry and doesn’t bubble, add a little more olive oil.

Step 4 – The Stock

Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste, then add five cups of the warmed chicken stock and whisk until well combined. Bring to a simmer and cook for several minutes until the mixture thickens.

Step 5 – The Crust

Divide the chicken mixture amongst the bowls equally. Cut out pie crust in amounts slightly larger than the bowls, then place the crusts over the bowls. Press the edges of the crust down over the rims and against the outsides of the bowls. Brush the top of the crusts with the eggs and make a couple of slits in them. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top.

Step 6 – The Baking

Place the pies on a baking sheet and cook for one hour at 350 degrees. The crust should be golden brown and the filling should be slightly oozing out of the crust or the sides of bowl.