On weeknights, getting dinner on the table is more a matter of survival than it is an act of creativity. Monday through Friday, I rely on the same 10 or so meals to keep us fed. These are the things I know by heart and can make without consulting books or a website for measurements or cook times.
When the weekend rolls around, I’m ready to stretch my culinary legs a little bit and try something beyond my standard turkey burgers and roasted broccoli, delicious though they may be. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not cooking up 10-course gourmet meals, but I do try to pick at least one recipe per weekend that requires a bit more time and energy. Around these parts, we call that dish The Weekender.
This last Sunday, we had plans to gather with friends for dinner. My promised main dish needed to be portable, made with poultry and outrageously delicious. The recipe that fit the bill? Ina Garten’s glorious Chicken Pot Pie.
With a from-scratch pastry topper and chicken breasts that have to be roasted and cooled before the filling can be made, this one is definitely not weeknight fare. But, it is just the thing for a lazy day in the kitchen.
Sunday morning, after a late breakfast of scrambled eggs with veggies and cheese, I pulled out a rimmed baking sheet and laid out six bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Sprinkled with salt and pepper, they spent a solid 45 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees F, until the skin was crisp and brown.
While the chicken roasted, I pulled out the food processor and blitzed the pastry dough together. It only takes a few minutes to whip up, but needs at least half an hour in the refrigerator to firm up enough to roll out. It can actually be made up to 24 hours in advance, which is great if you’re working around other activities or clamoring kids.
An hour and a half before I needed the pot pie to be ready, I tackled the remainder of the dish. Ina’s instructions are easy to follow and I particularly appreciate the way she has you stir the flour into the cooking vegetables instead of having you dirty another pot to cook the roux. Even on the weekend, the fewer dirty dishes, the better.
The only way that I diverted from her recipe was that I built the pot pie in one large baking dish. She instructs you to ladle the filling into four oven-safe bowls and place the topping directly on top of the bowls. Knowing that I was taking my pie to a dinner party where the meal would be served family-style, it didn’t make sense to me to attempt to pre-determine portion sizes. Plus, I like how rustic and homey it looks baked into my 3-quart enameled cast-iron pan.
I found that since I put the filling into the pan when it was still quite hot, it didn’t need the full hour of baking that Ina suggests. In my case, 40 minutes did the job. I also had a bit of bubbling over, so a baking sheet under the pan is key to keep your oven free from a major mess.
This recipe is truly just the thing for a fall weekend. It will make your kitchen smell divine, tastes of creamy comfort and, best of all, makes enough that you’re certain to have leftovers.