Pot pies are topped with a flaky pastry crust that hides a piping hot filling guaranteed to warm you and your tummy up on a cold winter day!
Most kids have only eaten frozen, pre-made pies - and have never thought to make their own. But once they try, they'll be hooked.
Chicken pot pies are nothing more exotic than creamed chicken or chicken stew covered with a pastry crust. They are most fun baked in individual ramekins but are equally delicious baked in a single dish.
To make the filling, you will need boneless, skinless chicken breasts as well as carrots, onions, peas, and potatoes. You can substitute cooked turkey or pork for the chicken.
For the crust, use your favorite pie dough recipe or a storebought or frozen pie crust or puff pastry sheet. You can also make the crust from a boxed mix.
If you use frozen pie dough or a sheet of puff pastry, remember to let it thaw before using it. Read the package for thawing instructions.
The Filling and Sauce
Poach the chicken in broth or water. Simmer or steam the carrots and potatoes until tender (about 20 minutes). Strain and then set aside until cool enough to handle.
Make the sauce from a mixture of flour and butter, called roux. You'll have to whisk this as it heats to keep it lump-free and smooth. While this is not difficult, it's better done by older children or an adult.
Add the roux to warm chicken broth, whisking until smooth. Again, this is a task for an older child or adult. Finally, thicken the sauce with milk or cream and season it with salt and pepper.
Cut the chicken, carrots, and potatoes into bite-sized pieces and then toss them with the peas in a large bowl. Spoon into individual ovenproof dishes (ramekins or custard cups) or a single casserole. Make sure there's ample headroom for the sauce and the crust.
Once the sauce is poured over the chicken and veggies and everything is mixed together, it's time to lay the crust on top.
Roll it out on a lightly floured countertop and, using a ramekin or the casserole as a guide, cut it to fit the top with a little overhang. Use a sharp knife for this - an adult will have to help small children.
Carefully pick up the crust and lay it over the top of the pies. The crust should fit inside the dish and even sneak up the sides or over the edge a little. As it bakes, it will shrink a little, so you don't want a skimpy pastry covering!
Follow the recipe for cooking temperatures and times. As a rule, individual pot pies take about half an hour and single, larger ones take about 45 or 50 minutes.
Spice It Up
For saucier flavor, add garlic powder or minced fresh garlic, fresh or dried thyme, oregano, sage, or basil to the sauce. A little curry powder sprinkled in while it's cooking adds a taste of India.
Add sautéed onions and garlic to the sauce, or canned tomatoes.
Sprinkle grated cheddar, parmesan, or shredded Swiss cheese over the crust before you bake it.
However you decide to make them, pot pies are always satisfying - and make a great family supper. And the kids will be so excited to say they made their own!