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Chicken Pie...
with Rich Chicken Stock
by Charlie Burke

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When the weather abruptly changed from oppressive heat and humidity to cold
and rainy, and when the temperature dropped 40 degrees in a matter of hours
(we are talking about life in northern New England, after all), Joanne decided we
were having
chicken pie, not chicken salad. We have no single recipe for
chicken pie, but the one constant is reducing our own stock as a flavor base and
thickening it slightly with flour. We usually add fresh thyme, rather than more
assertive herbs such as sage or rosemary.

This recipe is all about the moist meat from chicken roasted or grilled at high
heat and the richness of the reduced stock, so we add only small amounts of
vegetables, usually only peas and carrots -- although quartered frozen artichoke
hearts go well with the slight acidity  from the lemon juice.

The pie crust recipe was generously shared with Joanne by Linda Van
Valkenburgh, who studied at Johnson and Wales culinary school and sells
spectacularly delicious pies made with fresh, local fruit and berries at the
Sanbornton Farmers’ Market. She believes using King Arthur pastry flour makes
the difference, and after tasting her crust we agree! Certainly, you can use your
own favorite pie crust recipe, omitting any sugar.

Four to six servings:

Pie crust*:

¾ cups unbleached pastry flour
½ cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon buttermilk powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
½ stick cold unsalted butter (Joanne substitutes Earth Balance, an excellent
butter substitute, containing no cholesterol, saturated fats or trans fats)
¼ cup butter flavored shortening
¼ cup ice water
double for a 2 crust pie and add 1 tablespoon sugar for fruit pies

Pulse dry ingredients in a food processor. Add butter and shortening in pieces
and briefly pulse four or five times until they are pea sized. Add water a little at
a time, pulsing each briefly until the dough comes together; depending on the
flour and humidity, you may not need the entire volume of water. Once the
dough comes together, form it into a ball, press it flat and refrigerate for at least
an hour or over night. It will be rolled after pie ingredients are combined.

Filling:

4 cups chicken stock, low sodium if commercial
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter or butter substitute
Generous 3 cups chicken cut into 1 inch pieces
½ - ¾ cup peas
3 small carrots, thinly sliced
1 package frozen artichoke hearts, quartered (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 380 degrees. In a heavy sauce pan melt butter over medium heat
and add flour, stirring to blend. Cook until it starts to color slightly (becoming a
light roux), then whisk in the stock. Add carrots and boil until reduced by 25%; it
will thicken noticeably.  Add lemon juice, thyme, chicken, peas and artichokes, if
using, and season with salt and pepper. If you used commercial stock, taste for
salt before seasoning. After adding salt and pepper, check again and add more
lemon juice if needed. Place into a deep 10” pie dish (Joanne uses her favorite
Bennington Pottery dish from Vermont). Roll out the crust dough and cover pie,
pinching the edges and venting well. Brushing with egg wash (1 egg beaten with
1 ½ tablespoon water) will enhance browning.

Place pie on a baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and cook for 30
minutes. If you are using the egg wash, apply it again at 20 minutes and rotate
the pie for even browning. The pie is done when the filling is bubbling and the
crust is golden brown.

Served with a salad, this is comfort food capable of warming the coldest New
England spring day!

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the New Hampshire Farmer’s Market Association and helps run the
Sanbornton Farmers' Market. Along with his wife, Joanne, he grows certified organic
herbs, greens and berries at Weather Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
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