Is there a law that says pies have to be baked with the pastry on top? If there is, it’s time to break the rules because this is everything you know and love about chicken pot pie, but you can get it on the table – MADE FROM SCRATCH – in 20 minutes.
“I don’t know whether people will think this is wacky or clever or just weirdly lazy.”
This is the way I’ve been making chicken pot pie for midweek meals for as long as I can remember. It’s a “free form” pie, which means you bake the pastry separately from the filling, then to serve, you just pop it on top of the filling.
The reality is, whenever I make a large pie to share and dish it onto plates, the pastry becomes a crumbled mess and the filling oozes out everywhere. So I actually think this “free form” pie is neater looking, plus you have the added benefit that you can pick up the pastry pieces and munch through it using your hands, scooping piles of filling onto it. So much more fun than just using a knife and fork!
The filling for this pie is made from scratch and has no cream in it (most chicken pot pies do). The sauce is made with flour, milk and a bit of cheese instead of using a carton of cream. Leaving out cream is not a conscious decision I made for health reasons. It is simply that I honestly cannot tell much difference between making this with or without cream, and cream is not a regular in my weekly grocery shop whereas I always have milk, flour and cheese.
“Marsala is like port and wine and it’s my secret weapon for gourmet cooking on a budget. The alcohol is cooked out so it’s perfectly fine for kids to eat.”
The other thing in this recipe that makes this a bit different is that I use a dash of marsala to flavour the sauce. Marsala is one of my “gourmet cooking on a budget” secret weapons. It’s like port and sherry, it’s thick and sweet and has a great death of flavour. It’s really cheap to buy and lasts for ages, and it’s a great trick for adding amazing flavour to things with just a little dash of marsala. A classic way of using it is to deglaze pans with it to make sauces.
You can substitute with sherry, port or even white wine, though if you use wine you’ll need to add a sprinkle of sugar (I’ve included directions in the recipe).
Because this is so fast to make, I don’t usually make ahead and freeze it but it does freeze really well. Once the filling is made, just let it cool then then freeze it. You can even pop a piece of puff pastry on top then simply bake it to reheat (thawed).
I hope there are some people out there in this big wide world that don’t think I’m completely insane and think this is actually a pretty neat idea!
- 1 sheet puff pastry (25cm x 25cm / 10" x 10"), thawed
- Oil spray
- 2 tbsp butter
- 400g/13oz chicken thigh fillets (or tenderloin or breast), cut into small bite size pieces
- 1 onion (small, brown, white or yellow), diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bacon rashers, diced
- ¼ cup marsala (or dry sherry, port or white wine) (see notes)
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 2 cups frozen mixed peas, corn and carrots, thawed
- 2 cups small broccoli florets (see notes)
- 2 cups milk (full cream or low fat)
- ½ cup grated cheese (any cheese that melts. I used tasty)
- ¼ tsp salt (plus more to taste)
- Black pepper
- Preheat oven to 200C/390F. Lightly spray baking tray with oil.
- Cut puff pastry into 4 pieces and place on baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes until puffed and golden. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in large pan over high heat.
- Add onion and garlic cloves and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add bacon and chicken and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until chicken is lightly browned but still not cooked through inside.
- Add marsala and cook for 30 seconds to allow the alcohol to cook out. Most of the marsala should evaporate.
- Add the broccoli, peas, corn and carrots and stir to combine.
- Sprinkle the flour over and add milk, stirring to dissolve the flour into the milk.
- Bring to simmer then stir through cheese, salt and pepper. Adjust salt to your taste.
- Simmer, stirring for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the sauce is thickened, then remove from heat.
- To serve, divide the chicken filling between 4 plates and top with a piece of puff pastry.
2. Break off broccoli florets so they are small because they need to cook through in just a couple of minutes.
3. This freezes very well. Allow to cool then place in an airtight container and freeze. Thaw before reheating on stove or microwave. You can also freeze it with the puff pastry on top and bake it like a traditional pie.