DISCLAIMER: I don’t like chicken pot pie. Or, to rephrase, I’d never had one that I liked. I find them bland, “blah”, a heavy goop in a dry, flavorless crust. Every time I mention this though, someone chimes in, “Well, I like chicken pot pie a lot.” Since I’m always up for a challenge, I decided to create a pot pie even I could enjoy.
After a recent visit to the farmers market, I arrived home with a gorgeous bundle of rainbow chard. Lately, it seems that greens have been my catalyst for innovation (see Beet Green Spanakopita), and just like those beet greens, I didn’t want to do the same old sautéed greens this time around. Rainbow chard is one of my very favorite greens, and in our house you will often find them along side one of my favorite dishes: Jamaican jerk chicken. So I think: chard….jerk chicken… chicken…pot pie? I look it up and can’t find anything, which I was happy about.. now I get to figure it out for myself! Time to take comfort food out of its comfort zone!
Another side dish I love to have with jerk chicken is corn muffins, so I knew I wanted a cornmeal crust for the pies. And again, I’ve found chicken pot pies to be bland and boring, so I wanted something really savory and spicy. The jerk marinade for the chicken provided a lot of this, of course. Instead of potatoes, I went with sweet potatoes. I used the greens from the chard (and saved the stems for a side dish) and sautéed onions. Finally, I found some andouille chicken sausage in the freezer… perfect!
Now this is not a quick meal that you can whip up in half an hour. Then again, it’s a lot more fun, and a lot more rewarding! Note that I’ve given two options for the crust; one that takes a lot more time than the other. If you’re making the quicker version, you can make the crust later in the process since there is a lot of (inactive) cooking time over the course of this recipe. The recipe as I’ve written it is for four personal-sized pies, but you can make less if you like. When I made this, I halved the crust recipe, made the rest in its full amount, made two pies and just froze the extra filling. That way, next time I want to enjoy some chicken pot pie, all I need to do is make the crust!
I drew on many sources to craft my recipe. For the crust, I used Michael Ruhlman’s amazing book Ratio, which I talked about in my Piña Colada Mini Muffin post. For the filling, I took inspiration for a few recipes: Chicken and Fall Vegetable Pot Pie and Grilled Jerk Chicken (Epicurious), and Spicy Chicken Pot Pies (Blackbird Bakery).
Jerk Chicken Pot Pies
Makes four personal sized pot pies
For the crust:
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1 lb (4 sticks) of butter, cold, cut into pieces about 3/4″ wide
- 1/2 cup ice water
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the chicken:
- 2 lbs bone-in chicken thighs
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 4-5 habenero peppers, seeded & stemmed
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons allspice
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the gravy & filling:
- 1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2″ cubes
- 1 large bunch of rainbow chard, stems removed, well-washed and drained
- 1/4 lb andouille chicken sausage, chopped into 1/2″ cubes
- Low-sodium chicken broth (up to 2 cups)
- 1 cup minced red onion (about 1 medium-large onion)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- Vegetable oil
- Salt and freshly-ground pepper
- Four personal pie pans (I used Le Creuset 5″ square stoneware pans, which hold about 2 cups each)
1. Make the crust: Sift cornmeal and flour together into a large bowl. Add the butter pieces (still cold) and mix together by hand, rubbing the butter pieces together with your fingers until small beads of dough form. Add ice water slowly, as well as a pinch of salt, and mix the dough gently until just combined. Don’t overwork the dough or it will become tough. Shape the dough into 4 equal disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until ready to roll. (If you prefer a flakier crust, see note below.*)
2. Marinate the chicken: Blend together all ingredients for the chicken, except the chicken itself, in a blender until smooth. Divide the marinade into 2 large resealable plastic bags and add chicken. Seal the bags (making sure to get out any extra air) then flip the bags over a few times to coat the chicken with the marinade. Refrigerate the chicken and let marinate for at least an hour.
3. Roast the chicken: Preheat oven to 350° F. Arrange the marinated thighs, skin side up, in one layer in a large roasting pan. Cover the chicken with the remaining marinade from the bags. Roast the chicken for 30-40 minutes, or until just crisp and juices run clear. Remove the chicken and let cool. Strain the leftover marinade and reserve. When chicken is cool, de-bone and remove the skin. Dice the chicken, add to a large bowl, and set aside.
4. Pre-cook the vegetables and sausage: Fill a large pot with water, add sweet potato cubes, and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes from the pot and add to the bowl with the chicken. Make sure water in the pot is still boiling, and add the chard. Cook until just wilted, about a minute. Drain well and rinse the greens in cold water. Squeeze out extra moisture, chop the greens coarsely, and add to the chicken bowl. Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a frying pan and sauté the cubed sausage over medium heat until cooked and lightly browned. Add to vegetables and chicken.
5. Make the gravy: In a large pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in broth/marinade mix and white wine, and increase to high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add whipping cream and boil until sauce thickens (enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon), whisking often, about 7 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the gravy over the chicken, vegetables, and sausage. Mix until combined.
6. Prepare the dough: Preheat the oven to 375° F. Take dough out of refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes to soften before rolling. Roll out a disc of dough on parchment paper until about 1/4″ thick. Cut the dough into two pieces: one for the bottom crust, and one for the upper round. Gently place bottom round into a personal pie pan, letting an excess fold over the edges of the pan. Fill with chicken mixture. Pick up the parchment paper with the upper round and carefully flip it over the pan to cover the pie. Seal up the edges with a little water, folding excess dough into the pie as you go around the edge. Use a fork to pierce the top of the pie a few times for ventilation. Repeat with other 3 pies. Place pans on a baking sheets and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until tops are golden. Let cool slightly before serving.
*To make a flakier, but more time consuming crust, make the following adjustments:
-Leave the butter in larger pieces when forming into beads
-Shape the dough into one or two large rectangles, about 1/2″ thick, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour
-After an hour, take dough out of refrigerator and let soften at room temperature until pliable. Fold the rectangle(s) three times and roll out until it’s 1/2″ thick again. Re-wrap, refrigerate for another hour, and repeat once more. If you wish, you can even repeat this 3 more times.
The result is a savory, flaky crust with a creamy, flavorful, and slightly spicy filling. And for the first time ever, I was truly enjoying a chicken pot pie! I served the pies with plantains fried up with a bit of garlic, and lightly sautéed rainbow chard stems. With a meal like this, you can almost forget that it’s cold outside, and almost imagine yourself relaxing on a warm island somewhere. If you’re feeling it, go ahead a mix up a tropical cocktail to go with… why not, right?