Thursday, April 18, 2013

White Chicken Pot Pie inspired by Melissa Clark in The New York Times

It’s awfully close to putting-away-the-pot-pie-recipes time.  But this one is so good, I hope it gets in under the wire and if not, do save it for a rainy day.  It’s that good.  The reason I rushed to make it was that I’d managed to end up with not one but two half-eaten rotisserie chickens. They’re perfect for a recipe calling for cooked chicken. In fact, they eliminate a whole step.  They are a stand-in for poached boneless, skinless chicken breasts so they cut cooking time down. While you don’t end up with the poaching liquid called for in the original recipe, Chicken Broth is a perfectly suitable substitution.
Dahlia and Melissa in the Kitchen
The genesis for this recipe was an article Melissa Clark wrote about the ‘white food’ diet her 4 year old daughter Dahlia rigidly clings to.  Dahlia likes carb-laden dishes like Mac and Cheese and this Chicken Pot Pie, which would be relentlessly white were it not for an optional cup of peas.  I latched onto the peas to make some gesture to Spring’s arrival.   Now Dahlia is not the first person to embrace white food.


Oscar and Francoise de la Renta
Years ago, I read that Francoise de la Renta, former editor of French Vogue and wife of fashion designer Oscar, loved to serve completely white meals to her guests.  Since she was celebrated as one of the great home entertainers of all time, that certainly piqued my interest.  There was, however, no reason was given for this adoration of the monochromatic and most unfortunately, Mme de la Renta died of bone cancer in 1983.  So I fear we’ll never find out.  But I think she would have been so pleased with a pot pie filled with white vegetables—leeks, celery root, mushrooms, and potatoes-- along with big chunks of chicken in a rich creamy sauce.  One final change to Melissa’s recipe:  She covered her pie with almond topped dumplings.  I went for Pepperidge Farm puff pasty instead, sprinkling the almonds over the entire top then brushing the whole thing with an egg wash.  It was magnificent if I do say so myself.  Here is the recipe:
Recipe for White Chicken Pot Pie inspired by Melissa Clark in The New York Times
Takes 1 hour 45 minutes start to finish.  Serves 6-8

1 ½ lbs rotisserie chicken, shredded
Kosher salt
Black pepper
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 leeks, thinly sliced, white and light green parts
1 small celery root, peeled, diced into ½ inch pieces
(about 1 ¼ cups)
8 oz. White Button Mushrooms, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 large baking potato, peeled, diced into ½ inch pieces
(about 1 ¼ cups)
1 cup frozen peas, optional
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream, more as needed
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from 1 1/2 lemons)
1 sheet Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry
3 tablespoons sliced blanched almonds
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. cold water

Shred chicken into bite-size pieces.
Take Puff Pastry sheet out of freezer and defrost on counter for 40 minutes.
Pre Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 inch ceramic pie pan with butter or non-stick spray.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add leeks and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add mushroom slices and let them release their liquid in about 5 minutes.  

Melt in 4 more tablespoons butter. Stir in 1/2 cup flour and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. 

Slowly whisk in the stock and the cream. Season generously with at least  1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring mixture to a simmer. Stir in celery root and potato; simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, 10 minutes. Once sauce is thickened, stir in chicken, peas (if using) and lemon zest. 

Scrape mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper over top of the chicken vegetable mixture. 

Put puff pastry sheet on floured surface.  Use a rolling pin to flatten it out slightly.  Then gently lift it over the pie plate. Crimp the edges following the contours of the pie plate.
Scatter the almond pieces over the top of the pastry.
With a pastry brush, cover the pastry and almonds with the egg wash.

Transfer dish to oven; bake until top is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.


  1. I also saw this recipe in the Times and while I'm not a huge fan of "white food" it's hard to resist chicken pot pie! I'll have to try this one out! :)

    1. You owe it to yourself. Only the ingredients are white....the taste is wildly colorful. And the almond topping a great idea! All best, Monte