By Karen Schulz
Several years ago my sister-in-law gave me chunky, forest-green glazed bowls that looked like they belonged in a cozy Vermont cabin during an epic snowstorm. She knows how much I love all things tabletop, whether an heirloom serving platter from great-grandma, or funky napkin rings to add personality. Props definitely fuel my inspiration to cook, as they can add dimension, whimsy, and glamor to any meal. When I saw these bowls, I instantly envisioned all the wintery recipes I would make for them — beef stew, chili or French onion soup.
As we sink deep into February, and each branch outside my office window is encased in ice, I find myself reaching for my green bowls. Individual chicken pot pies are the perfect wintry night dinner for these special vessels because the puff pastry hanging over the edges makes them look like delicious gifts.
The ingredient list seems lengthy, but do not be discouraged because the only real work is in dicing two carrots. Using store-bought puff pastry, frozen peas, and onions, and buying pre-cut mushrooms make this recipe weeknight-worthy. You can also poach the chicken breasts in advance.
The house will smell amazing as the pies cook and everyone will be excited to see their own pot of goodness when they come to the table. Don’t worry if you don’t have fabulous green crocks, this recipe will look great and be delicious with any oven-safe bowl you have in your cabinets.
Stay warm and happy cooking.
<<Chicken Pot Pies>>
1 14- to 17-oz. puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
1 qt. low-sodium chicken broth
1 large yellow onion, quartered
2 bay leaves
1 t. whole black peppercorns
3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 T. chopped
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3 T. unsalted butter
½ c. frozen pearl onions, thawed
2 medium diced carrots
1 c. sliced white mushrooms
1 c. fresh or thawed frozen peas
5 T. all-purpose flour
1 c. milk
1 t. kosher salt
½ t. freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry dough with a floured rolling pin. Transfer to the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing pie filling.
Combine the broth, quartered onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme sprigs in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the chicken breasts. Raise the heat and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, ten to 15 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. Strain the stock and set aside 2½ cups. Reserve the remaining stock for another use. When the chicken is cool to the touch, cut it into bite-size chunks and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pearl onions and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Add the mushrooms and peas and cook for another five minutes. Stir in the flour and cook one more minute. Add the 2½ cups stock and the milk, stirring constantly. Cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about five minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the chicken, chopped thyme, salt, and pepper.
Spoon the filling into four individual ovenproof bowls. Using the bowl as a guide cut the puff pastry into four squares and place one square on each pie, pressing around the edges to seal the pastry to the bowl. Cut a vent in the center. Using a pastry brush, brush the entire surface of each pie with egg.
Bake until the pastry is puffed and dark golden brown, about 35 minutes.