Eight years ago, my husband and I traveled to L.A. to watch the Horns play for the national title. Alabama came away victorious, which didn’t necessarily hurt my Aggie feelings (which were still fully Big 12-rivalry envious at the time…I might feel differently these days!), but the trip was worth it because of a fun side trip to Malibu and Santa Barbara and all of the fabulous meals we had in SoCal that weekend. The standout for me, hands down, was Madeo. With its low ceilings and nondescript appearance, this West Hollywood Italian joint absolutely relies on consistent, authentic, delicious food to keep its doors rotating. It’s been around forever, and the celebs flock there as a place to see and be seen without really seeing and being seen. I didn’t spot anyone famous, but I did find the holy grail of pasta bolognese! The sauce was rich and meaty, and I’ve contemplated planning trips back west just to order this dish. I supposed it was probably my first real deal bolognese, and I’ve since been on a mission to find something even remotely comparable. This recipe is just about as good as it gets! It evokes that same richness, and the all-day simmering is one of my favorite things to do on a chilly rainy day like today. This is solidly on my list of go-to recipes that will easily please any crowd!
We are having what I hope is the last blast of frigid winter weather before spring makes its appearance. The temps in Houston went from highs in the 80s yesterday to hovering near freezing this morning! I actually don’t mind the cold, but I don’t particularly enjoy being out in it. I prefer staying in, bundling up, and watching movies…and EATING! This recipe for Chicken Pot Pie is one of my favorite things to make on chilly days. It is hearty and comforting and just right for cold weather — it is the perfect comfort food!
This recipe comes from Rebecca Rather’s cookbook “The Pastry Queen.” Rebecca previously owned Rather Sweet Bakery, a fabulous restaurant and bakery in Fredericksburg, Texas. She served delicious pastries and sweet treats that lived up to her nickname, but she also offered daily lunch specials. According to her cookbook, on the days she served her All Sold Out Chicken Pot Pie, so many people would call ahead to reserve their pot pies she would sell out of them before lunch even commenced! While I never had the chance to enjoy one at her restaurant, I have made this recipe dozens of times, and I can see how the name of this menu item came to be. It is so yummy!
The recipe comes in three parts: the filling, the cream sauce, and the crust. I have actually only made the crust one time. It was indeed delicious and not too much work, but I find it much easier, and just as tasty, to just use a frozen puff pastry sheet. I think it turns out so pretty too!
The filling is pretty straightforward and can be modified to include your family’s favorite veggies. I love the suggested combo, but carrots, asparagus, and corn would be great too. If you include potatoes, make sure and dice them small and cook until they are soft. I prefer to do the veggies in batches so they actually sauté instead of steaming in a crowded pan. I sometimes even cook the mushrooms in a separate pan to ensure they brown up nicely. Also, if you use the skinny haricots verts green beans, you can just toss them in to sauté with the other veggies, skipping the microwave step completely.
I think making a homemade cream sauce is so much tastier, and definitely healthier, than using canned cream soup. This sauce holds everything together and gives it a wonderful richness, but it is not heavy at all.
The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can modify it to your family’s taste. It’s like an outfit that can be dressed up or down. When I make it, I often replace the regular salt with truffle salt and serve it with a light salad and a crisp glass of Sancerre to jazz it up a little. I think adding fresh herbs, perhaps thyme, would also add a nice extra layer of flavor. However you choose to make it, this recipe will likely forever change your opinion about chicken pot pies — it is definitely not the frozen TV dinner pot pie of the 80s!
Fredericksburg holds a special place in my heart, and it is one of my husband’s and my favorite Texas towns. I miss stopping in for a chocolate-dipped coconut macaroon at Rather Sweet, but my fingers remain crossed that she will set up shop again. In the meantime, I pretend I have a fraction of her kitchen prowess and make as many of her recipes as I can! Rebecca Rather’s amazing “The Pastry Queen” cookbook is available on Amazon. Her holiday cookbook, “The Pastry Queen Christmas,” another favorite of mine, is also available on Amazon. Featuring items both sweet and savory, her Christmas cookbook offers complete menus for each holiday event.
Rebecca Rather’s All Sold Out Chicken Pot Pie
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 rotisserie chicken or 1 whole stewed chicken, cooled and chopped into bite-size pieces
8 oz. fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (8 oz.) pkg. frozen peas
½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 c. all purpose flour
2 ½ c. chicken stock, preferably homemade
½ c. heavy whipping cream (optional)
Dash of hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 c. (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter
3 c. all purpose flour
10 oz. chilled cream cheese
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground white pepper
1 large egg
To make the filling:
- Melt the butter in a large sauté pan set over medium heat. Add the onion and potato; sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms; sauté about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the crushed red pepper and add salt and pepper to taste.
- While the vegetables are cooking, place the green beans in a microwave-safe bowl and add enough water to cover. Cover the dish and microwave on high power about 10 minutes, until the beans are tender (if using the skinny hericot verts, you will only need to microwave them about 2 or 3 minutes). Drain thoroughly.
- Stir the beans, cooked chicken, and peas into the vegetable mixture. Set the filling aside.
To make the cream sauce:
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the chicken stock and cook the sauce over medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of a cream soup. Add the cream, hot pepper sauce, and salt and white pepper to taste.
- Pour the cream sauce over the chicken and vegetable filling, and stir to combine. Fill individual 1 ¼ cup capacity oven-safe bowls three-quarters of the way to the top with the creamed chicken filling.
To make the crust:
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Cut the butter into 16 pieces. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the butter and flour until crumbly. Add the cream cheese, salt, and white pepper. Continue pulsing just until the dough forms a ball.
- Set the dough on a flat surface dusted with flour. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to ¼-inch thickness. Measure the diameter of the pot pie bowls and cut out dough rounds that are 1 ½ inches larger in diameter.
- Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Lay the dough rounds on top of the pot pies, making sure the dough hangs evenly over each bowl. Brush the dough lightly with the beaten egg.
- Bake the pies for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.