Wolfgang Puck's Classic Chicken Pot Pie
Classic Chicken Pot Pie

I know that there's still almost a month to go of summer. But, for me, even with the weather still hot, it always starts feeling like autumn when the kids go back to school. That's the case in many parts of the country right now, though in Los Angeles, school starts for most kids just after Labor Day.

And with the kids back in school, it's time to start thinking about serving the family nourishing, satisfying home-cooked meals. I'm talking about the kind of food that will make everyone in the family happy, while it especially sustains the children, whether they're grade-schoolers or teens, for homework, sports, or whatever other school-related or extracurricular activities they might have.

One of the best dishes I know to accomplish those goals is pot pie. Some of my friends tell me that, in their own childhoods, they often ate the individual frozen variety that you popped into the oven. But it's surprisingly easy to prepare a real homemade pot pie that will make everybody happy.

My recipe for a classic chicken pot pie is packed with vegetables and chunks of white meat chicken, all bound together in a thick, creamy sauce. Unlike those frozen pies, it has only a top crust, leaving out the bottom layer of pastry that can often turn soggy. And the crust has a special ingredient: shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, which helps turn the crust a beautiful golden color and adds rich, tangy flavor.

Even though everything in this recipe is made from scratch, you can still have it ready to serve in not much more than an hour. Want to make it even more quickly? Make the pastry the night before, if you like, and just keep it in the refrigerator. You could also make the entire filling a day ahead and refrigerate it, leaving just the pie's final assembly and baking the evening you plan to serve it. And feel free to substitute a round of refrigerated, ready-to-use pie pastry dough from the supermarket, and chopped-up precooked rotisserie chicken instead of sauteing the chicken yourself.

Speaking of substitutions, try replacing the chicken with chunks of fresh or leftover turkey, beef, pork, lamb, or seafood. Use different vegetables that you enjoy. And by all means exchange the cream in the sauce for half-and-half, or regular, low-fat, or nonfat milk.

When you start to look at all the possibilities, you'll realize that this pot pie isn't just a single recipe but a basic formula for many different kinds of delicious main courses. And that's just the sort of recipe you need for the start of the busy back-to-school season -- one you can go on enjoying into fall and winter!

Classic Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Serves 6


2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

6 ounces unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces

1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

2 large cage-free egg yolks

6 tablespoons heavy cream


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium organic carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 stalk organic celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1/2 pound cremini or shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 10-ounce package frozen pearl onions, thawed

3/4 cup frozen petite peas, thawed


6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1-1/2 cups organic chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme


Freshly ground black pepper

1 large cage-free egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

First, make the pastry. Put the flour and chives in a bowl. Add the chilled butter pieces and, using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the cheese and work it in just until blended. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 5 tablespoons of the cream. While stirring with a fork, sprinkle in the yolk-cream mixture a little at a time until the pastry comes together, adding the remaining cream if necessary. Knead lightly just until combined. On a lightly floured surface, press the dough into a circle. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

For the chicken and vegetables, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and vegetable oil. Add the chicken and saute until lightly browned but not fully cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken to a bowl.

In the same pan over medium-high heat, saute the carrots, celery, and mushrooms for 5 minutes. With the slotted spoon, remove the vegetables to a separate bowl. Stir the thawed pearl onions and peas into the sauteed vegetables.

For the sauce, melt the butter in the same pan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until the mixture is bubbling and smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the broth, cream, and thyme. Return the skillet to the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened and smooth, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the reserved chicken and vegetables. Set aside to cool for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spoon the cooled chicken-vegetable mixture into a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a circle 11 inches in diameter. Place the pastry on top. Fold the overhang underneath itself and, with your thumb and forefinger, press gently all around the baking dish to make a decorative pastry edge. Brush pastry with the beaten egg-and-water mixture. With the tip of a small, sharp knife, cut 3 vent slits in the pastry at the center of the pie.

Bake the pie until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Use a large serving spoon to scoop the filling and pastry onto individual serving plates or into large shallow serving bowls.


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