(Relatively) Low-Fat Chicken Pot Pie

(Relatively) Low-Fat Chicken Pot Pie

Stephen requested a less-saucy version, so I baked this one in a larger dish. Yours will be more substantial-looking, I promise!

I loves me some chicken pot pie, especially come cold weather. What could be cozier? But I’ve got three problems with the dish:

  1. Most recipes call for whole milk or—gasp—cream. And homey don’t play that. I’m fat enough, thank you.
  2. Thanks to the whole growing-up-kosher thing, I still cringe at the thought of cooking meat in dairy. A pat of butter to finish a sauce? Sometimes. A little Parmesan cheese in my meatballs? OK, that’s more like salt. But this? Nu uh.
  3. Pie crust.

Points 1 and 2 I’ve addressed in a way that makes me terribly happy: Instead of using dairy products to make a thick, creamy sauce, I rely on a combination of potato starch-thickened chicken broth and a roux, of sorts. The result is every bit as rich and satisfying as the creamy versions (at least, to me it is), but it’s got much less fat and fewer calories. Granted, that pie crust means it’s hardly a diet dish, but if you want something homey and luscious and comforting that won’t bust your belt, you can’t go wrong with this recipe.

And speaking of the pie crust, I’ve got two solutions:

  1. Pillsbury. Their refrigerated crust is pretty darn good—and for us time-pressed parents, it’s downright fabulous.
  2. Thanks to a reader comment on that rant about pie crust, I learned about the Pastry Dough from Staff Meals from Chanterelle. I figured it was worth a shot and I had the time, so I gave it a whirl. It wasn’t perfect—far from it—but it’s as close as I’ve ever gotten to a good crust. Definitely trying that one again!

Maybe Harry’s going to take after his mom & become a food blogger

This recipe is perfect for those of us with napping tots. Follow the directions to cook it in stages, and you’ll manage to get an impressive dinner on the table without running yourself ragged!

(Relatively) Low-Fat Chicken Pot Pie
Serves 6

6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
1 large potato, peeled and chopped into ½” chunks
2 large or 3 small carrots, peeled and chopped into ½” chunks (or use frozen, see below)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
3-4 tablespoons flour, plus more for rolling out dough
frozen peas or peas and carrots, as much as you like, unthawed
3 cooked chicken breasts, chopped*
salt & pepper
1 unbaked pie crust, either store-bought or homemade
1 egg, beaten

Stage 1:
Combine first four ingredients (through potatoes) in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are barely cooked—10-15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove potatoes and put in a bowl (don’t worry if some of the thyme comes out, too). Add carrots to broth, if using, and simmer until barely cooked, around 8 minutes. Remove the carrots to the same bowl as the potatoes. Remove bay leaf and thyme branches and reserve broth. If you’re Nap-Time Cooking, refrigerate everything.

Stage 2:
Preheat oven to 425 and pull pie crust from the fridge (unless you’re Nap-Time Cooking, in which case wait until Stage 3). Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Heat the olive oil in your largest frying pan over medium heat; add the onion. Sauté until translucent but not browned, 5-8 minutes, then sprinkle the flour over the onion. Cook, stirring, until flour takes on a golden tone. Add reserved broth—stir it first to incorporate the starch from the potatoes—and simmer until the broth thickens. Add the reserved vegetables, the frozen vegetables, and the cooked chicken, and cook just until heated through. Taste and add salt and pepper until you’re happy. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. If Nap-Time Cooking, refrigerate again.

Stage 3:
If your oven’s not already preheated and your crust isn’t on the counter, now’s the time.

Sprinkle a little flour on a clean surface (I use a Roul’Pat Pastry Mat). Roll out dough until it’s an inch wider than your baking dish on all sides, and drape it on top. Tuck edges under, and score the top so steam can escape. Brush dough with beaten egg, and into the oven it goes. Bake 20 minutes, or until the crust begins to brown, then lower the heat to 350 and bake another 25-30 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is a lovely golden-brown color. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

* I didn’t have any cooked chicken, so before I cooked the potatoes & carrots I poached some in the pot of broth.