Last night I made chicken pot pie with mushrooms and leeks for dinner. I picked up some boneless skinless chicken thighs on sale the other day, with no clear plan as to what I was going to make. I used to plan out my meals every week and sometimes I still do that. But when I’m often just cooking for myself, I tend to just pick up something on sale or something that catches my eye, both in terms of meat and vegetables. Sometimes I’ve seen a recipe that I want to try when I’m browsing through a cookbook but often I just think of things that sound good. The other day it was chicken and mushrooms that caught my attention. I thought about pasta with a cream sauce. I thought about an Asian stir-fry. I thought about our favorite chicken and rice. I browsed through some books and stumbled upon a chicken and mushroom pie from Nigel Slater’s Eat (affiliate link), a fantastic cookbook brimming with ideas. Often they’re not detailed recipes and usually there are suggested variations. I cut down the quantities, added leeks and carrots and used water I’d saved from cooking potatoes for bangers and mash rather than the white beer he suggested. (I thought I would make some soup with it. That’s how well I’m planning these days!) I totally used his idea of using puff pastry for a top crust because I’d just seen some languishing in the freezer. I like his chatty style and how the book is organized. (This was in a chapter called “Under a Crust.”)
I used to always make chicken pot pie with leftover chicken or turkey. It was something I made to use up things not something I set about to make from scratch. But Slater’s had me try a few new ideas for pot pie, including cooking the chicken in milk and then using that milk to make the gravy. This pot pie has no dairy, just flour and broth to make the gravy. Last night, I just chopped the chicken thighs and cooked them in some oil, as he suggests in Eat. I used two boneless skinless chicken thighs. I wanted to cook something that would only be three or four servings. I like eating leftovers for lunch once or twice but I get tired of them after the third time.
I don’t think I’ve used mushrooms in a pot pie before. I used to not like mushrooms. I didn’t dislike them but I didn’t like them either. I’d eat them if the were there. Suddenly this last year mushrooms taste really good to me and I buy and cook them frequently. They were really good in here, since I went light on the meat. And cutting them in quarters rather than slicing them meant they still had some good “meaty” texture.
Chicken Pot Pie with Mushrooms and Leeks
- 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
- 1 leek, sliced and cleaned
- 1/2 an onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- a handful of mushrooms, quartered
- 1 heaping Tablespoon of flour
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth or mix of broth and water or beer
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
- puff pastry sheet, thawed
- If your puff pastry sheet is still frozen, pull it out to thaw before you start the chicken and vegetables.
- Heat a bit of oil over medium heat in a large skillet and add the chicken pieces, cooking and stirring until cooked through, about ten minutes but it depends on how large your pieces are and how hot your pan is. When you can easily cut a piece in half with a wood spatula, they’re done! Remove the chicken pieces to a 9×9 baking dish (or similar) but leave as much oil in the pan as you can.
- Add the leeks and onion and carrot and cook a few minutes, stirring. Add more oil if the pan looks too dry.
- Add the quartered mushrooms and cook, stirring, another few minutes.
- Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook another 4-5 minutes, stirring.
- Stir in the broth and water or beer and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken pieces back into the pan. Lower the heat to just keep the liquid simmering and add the tarragon, parsley and bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn the oven to 350 to preheat.
- Simmer the chicken mixture about 10-15 minutes, until thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Pour the chicken and vegetable mixture into a 9×9 pan or something similar.
- Top the chicken mixture with the puff pastry, cutting it as needed to cover your pan. Cut some slits in the top to let the steam escape.
- Bake about 30 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before serving.