Happy Pi Day!

Pie for Pi Day
picture found here, along with the story of how Pi Day came to be celebrated)
Today is Pi Day, 3/14. (Which reminds me that I totally forgot to do anything for National Grammar Day! Drat.) To celebrate, you can talk about the properties of pi, you can listen to a musical representation of the number pi, you can watch a rap music video about pi, and of course, you can eat pie. A few years ago I decided that we would have turkey pot pie for dinner for pi day, and I bought some from the freezer section of the grocery store, and overall, I was VERY unimpressed. So this year, I’ve decided to trust Ina, and make a Barefoot Contessa version. We’re having it for dinner tonight, so I’ll have to let you know how it turns out. But in the interest of being timely and topical, and in case you’re motivated to do something similar, here’s the recipe. I’ll be cheating and making one big pie rather than individual pies, and using a store bought pie crust. Homemade pie crust intimidates me. The recipe says it makes 4 individual pot pies, but I’m thinking they’d be huge, and you could probably feed 8 with this. I’m going to halve the recipe for the three of us. The recipe also says cook time 55 minutes, but that is clearly a lie, as you cook the chicken for 40, then assemble the pies, then bake for another hour. Someone at FoodNetwork.com isn’t paying attention.

Chicken Pot Pie
Ingredients

  • 3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

For the pastry:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions and parsley. Mix well.

For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Oh, and it’s also Albert Einstein’s birthday! Get your inner math geek on, folks!

UPDATE: DELICIOUS! If you’re any kind of fan of pot pies, this is a keeper. Also, I made a chicken pot pie awhile ago from the New Basics Cookbook that wasn’t nearly as good, but called for homemade chicken bouillon cubes (as if!), so I went and found this amazing demi glace, which is a wonderful, rich addition to a recipe when calling for bouillon or just a rich gravy or sauce. I used the demi glace in place of the bouillon in this recipe. Yummy yummy yummy. For the pastry, I just went to see the little puffy guy in the Pillsbury area of the fridge section, and found a delicious and easily rolled out product. Thanks again, Ina, and to the rest of you, next time you’re in the mood for chicken pot pie, this recipe isn’t difficult, esp if you don’t make your own chicken stock and pie crust.

3 thoughts on “Happy Pi Day!

  1. I love chicken (and turkey) pot pies. Comfort food of my childhood. (Ungrateful wretch that I was, prefered Swansons to home cooking.)

    Yours sounds very good — I may have to try this one.

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