Recipe Road Test: "Will It Skillet?" Chicken Pot Pie

Will_It_Skillet_ChickenPotPie200Traditional chicken pot pie, you are dead to me.  After making the Will It Skillet? version I will never again return to chicken pot pie with a crust, and my family will certainly never let me.  In this recipe you make the filling in the cast-iron skillet in which it will bake and the top is formed with the most delicious, crunchy combination of crushed saltines, sage, and parmesan cheese. 

Author Daniel Shumski notes that leftovers will keep for 2 days in the fridge--the first time I made it my husband literally ate half the skillet by himself, so leftovers were more of a concept than a reality in my house.  Try the dish for yourself and I bet you, too, will leave the crust version of this classic comfort food in the dust.  Here's what mine looked like when it came out of the oven, and just before the last spoonful was devoured...

 SkilletPotPieOutofOven  SkilletPotPieTheEnd

 

 

 

 

 


WillItSkillet200

 Chicken Potpie (in a Skillet)

This version skips a traditional crust and gets crowned with a buttery, crumbly cracker topping.

I’m a fan of cooking from scratch, but I’ve certainly fished my fair share of dinners out of the freezer case. I have a soft spot for those packaged chicken potpies, with their double crusts, mechanically perfect cubes of carrot and potatoes, frozen peas, and occasional piece of chicken.

This recipe will not have you missing the chicken. There’s plenty.

Making everything in the skillet means no crust on the bottom, since the sauce and all of the filling ingredients are cooked together on the stovetop. You won’t find the traditional crust on top, either. Instead, crushed crackers add crunch there.

Ingredients:

Topping
25 saltine crackers
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1⁄8 teaspoon dried ground sage
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup diced white or yellow onion (about 1 small onion)
3⁄4 cup diced celery (about 2 large stalks, trimmed)
1 1⁄2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup milk
1⁄3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1⁄2 cups chopped cooked chicken (about 12 ounces)
1 cup frozen peas

1. Make the topping: In a small bowl, finely crush the crackers. Stir in the Parmesan and sage. Add the butter and mix with a fork until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F with one rack in the middle. Preheat the skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes.

3. Make the filling: Add the butter to the skillet and allow it to melt, then add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, about 10 minutes.

4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the broth and milk. In another small bowl, combine the flour, thyme, salt, and pepper, then sprinkle the mixture into the skillet. Gradually whisk in the broth and milk, adding about a quarter of the total liquid at a time and whisking until the mixture thickens before adding more. The first batch of liquid should thicken almost instantly, though it may take as long as 5 minutes to add and thicken all of the liquid. When all of the liquid has been added, stir in the chicken and peas and remove the skillet from the heat.

5. Sprinkle the topping over the skillet and place it in the oven. Bake until the topping is beginning to brown and the liquid is bubbling around the edges, about 10 minutes.

6. Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer it to a rack to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Serve hot. Leftovers can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 2 days.

Variation

Substitute 2 cups cubed cooked ham for the chicken and omit the salt. (The ham has a more assertive flavor, so slightly less is needed.)


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