I have to admit that I'm a sucker for a good pot pie. Whether it's my rampant Anglophilia or just the fact that I love breaking through pastry to get to savoury fillings, I'm not sure... but if I had to offer up one of my personal ultimate comfort foods, it would be some type of pot pie.
I'll often bake these for people who are going through a tough time, as pies freeze well and can be heated up in the oven whenever someone actually has an appetite. They're not best suited for funeral receptions, but instead are ideal for savouring alone or with a couple of friends; people in whose company we're totally comfortable, so we won't fret if we drop a few creamy peas onto our laps while eating.
Omnivore and vegan options are listed side by side below: when I make a chickeny pie for myself, I'll make one with tofu or other faux chick'n alternative for Sir N.
As a side note, if you or the people you're preparing this for don't have to eat gluten-free, please don't feel that you're required to make your own pie crust for this: you can absolutely use frozen pie shells, or puff pastry, or even a few sheets of phyllo instead.
Gluten-Free Pie Crust Ingredients:
This pie crust is a variation on Anna Olson's flourless pie crust: I've just reduced the sugar so the crust can be used with a savoury filling.
- 2 cups brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca starch
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup EACH chilled cream cheese and chilled unsalted butter (or 2 cups Earth Balance)
- 2 egg whites (or 1/2 cup aquafaba)
Use a whisk to combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the cream cheese and butter (or Earth Balance) into 1/2 inch pieces, and work into the dough with a pair of forks until a crumbly texture is formed.
In a separate bowl, whisk your eggwhites (or aquafaba) until frothed up, and then blend them into the dough. Take care not to overwork it: it should all just be combined. Separate the dough into 2 balls, flatten them into discs, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for an hour or so prior to use.
Pie Filling Ingredients:
- 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (OR a brick of semi-firm tofu, OR a package of Gardein Chick'n Scallopini)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- A few twists of ground pepper
Marinate the chicken breasts in the above mixture for at least an hour, then sear in a hot pan until browned on all sides. Set aside until cooled a bit, then chop into bite-sized pieces. If using the Chick'n Scallopini patties, just chop them up and season with a bit of lemon and salt.
- 3 leeks, sliced thinly (white and pale light green parts only), washed, and drained
- 1/4 cup butter OR Earth Balance
- 2 cups chicken OR onion OR vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 1/2 teaspoon summer savoury (dried)
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme (dried)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup gluten-free flour
- 1/4 cup whipping cream OR heavy coconut cream
- 1/2 cup fresh green peas, or if using frozen, pre-thawed
Preheat your oven to 350-375, depending on your oven. Grease a 6-cup deep pie plate/baking dish, or a few individual ramekins, depending on whether you'd like to bake one large pie or several small ones.
Heat the butter/Earth Balance in a large skillet on medium heat, and once it starts to bubble slightly, sautée the leeks for 3-5 minutes, or until the soften and start to look transparent.
Add the stock, herbs, lemon juice, and zest, and bring up to a boil. Add the chicken/tofu and green peas, and bring down the heat to low so that it simmers.
In a small separate saucepan, make a roux out of the olive oil and flour by whisking it together into a paste and cooking it until golden, and then add that into the simmering mixture, using a wooden spoon to combine everything well. Add the cream, and continue to simmer until the mixture starts to look glossy. Remove from heat.
***This is where you get to decide if you're going to make this a 1-crust or 2-crust pie. 1-crust is a good option for someone who wants to cut carbs. I like to make a 2-crust pie to make it a bit heartier. The only difference in preparation is that for a 2-crust version, you'll roll out one of the pastry discs and press it into your pie dish, pierce it slightly with a fork here and there, and pre-bake it for about 8 minutes to firm it up a bit. Then continue with the 1-crust directions as follows:
Pour this mixture into your deep baking dish, or those jaunty little ramekins. Roll out 1 disc of pastry dough 1/4 inch thick and drape it over the dish. If you find that there's too much pastry hanging down the sides, trim it back a little bit, but leave enough that you can really seal the edges well. You can either freeze this leftover pastry if there's enough to use for something else, or you can cut out decorative shapes for this one and stick them onto your pie with a bit of leftover cream.
Cut a small steam hole in the crust, brush with cream or beaten egg, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry turns gold and the inside mixture seems intent on bubbling out from beneath it.
As a side note, as delicious as this is as a pot pie, you don't have to put a crust onto it at all. It's just as gorgeous as a stew served over gnocchi or rice or dumplings or even just on its own. I've even been known to add some stock to it and make it a thick, creamy soup if I'm just making a batch for myself.
My usual suggestion to make it your own holds true: add more (or less) lemon, toss in some diced celery or carrots if you like them, or chopped tarragon, or big handfuls of shredded greens. It will be lovely no matter how you adjust it.