Project Pie: Chicken Pot Pie with Herb Crust (Dairy Free)

Project Pie: I'll be baking 24 pies before Pi Day 2016 to get over my fear of baking pies. And to eat delicious things. You can join me by posting about your pies in the comments or tagging your twitter, instagram, or facebook posts with #projectpie. Make something gooey and delicious!

Is there a food more comforting than chicken pot pie? As a kid, I loved the little individual pies from the freezer section in their tiny aluminum pie plates. A personal chicken pot pie for dinner usually meant we were eating in front of the television, perhaps the Disney movie on Sunday night, back when there was no Hulu or Netflix and I tore through the Sunday paper to find the tv guide for the week. And then we would all sit down together with our tv trays at 7:00 pm to watch whatever the network gods had chosen for us.

Chicken pot pie always feels to me like a food from another era, an "easier" time. 

I made mine with a single crust (just on top, none on the bottom) to lighten it up a bit and without dairy for my lactose-free lady, who helped out with chopping vegetables and shredding chicken while we listened to a little Miley Cyrus (Party in the USA never gets old) on Pandora. 

Even with the changes and the modern tunes, sitting down to eat this in front of the television on a Sunday night reminded me of childhood, of days when I didn't understand how confusing or messed up the world was or that everyone didn't assemble with their family in the living room to watch the Disney movie of the week. I'm glad for what I've learned since then - about the lives of others, our differences and the ways my story of an easier time was not necessarily accurate. It's made me a better person. But I do still like to sink back into that blissful ignorance, if only for an hour, accompanied by a plate of chicken pot pie.

Dairy Free Chicken Pot Pie with Herb Crust

Pie Crust (makes one crust)
Adapted from Elizabeth Patel 

1.25 cups flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 cup shortening, cold
1 oz cold water
1 oz cold vodka
2 tablespoons fresh thyme (or other herbs)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
2. Cut your shortening into chunks (best if they're not all uniform in size) and put in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
3. Add the flour and shortening to your food processor and pulse 8-10 times, or until the mixture looks a little crumbly. Stop before it starts to look like cornmeal. You want some different sized shortening chunks. 
4. Pour in the water, vodka, and fresh herbs and pulse again 8-10 times until the dough starts to come together. Stop before it forms a big ball. 
5. Take the dough out of the food processor. It should all stick together at this point. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and put in the refrigerator until ready to use.
6. When ready, using a rolling pin, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about an inch wider than your pie plate all the way around. 
7. Pick the crust up by rolling it onto your rolling pin, and place it onto your pie plate. Cut off any excess around the edges, crimp with a fork, and cut several slits in the center. 

Chicken Filling

2 boneless chicken breasts, skin removed
3 tablespoons margarine or olive oil (I used earth balance)
5 carrots, peeled and diced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Poach the chicken breasts by placing them in a pot with enough water to cover them by 1/2 - 1 inch. Cover and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
2. While the chicken is cooking, chop your vegetables, then melt the margarine in a pot over medium heat, and pour in all the chopped vegetables. Cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and flour until fully incorporated.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, shred the poached chicken with a fork. 
4. Pour in the shredded chicken, chicken broth, frozen peas, and herbs. Add salt and pepper. 
5. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the chicken mixture has thickened slightly. 
6. Pour into an oven safe pie plate and top with the rolled out pie crust. 
7. Place pie plate on a baking sheet (to catch drips) and bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. 

p.s. How to build the perfect meal salad.

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