Usually by the time we realize we’re jonesing for chicken pot pie, it’s too late—literally; making them from scratch can take hours. Freezer chicken pot pie allows you to make this ultimate comfort food ahead of time.
ELEMENT OF DISTRESS
Make-ahead chicken pot pie recipes are still a lot of work—and often with little payoff. Once defrosted and cooked, the pie’s filling is dry, the pie dough is charred, and our dreams of a quick meal are dashed.
LINE OF ATTACK
We’d swap the whole chicken for quicker-cooking breasts, and find a way to make storebought pie dough work instead of homemade. (Yes, we found a way.)
The whole point of a make-ahead version is to cut out the hours it takes to prepare the dish the day you want to eat it—but we weren’t willing to spend that time preparing it in advance, either. Fortunately, we found that boneless, skinless chicken breasts—first browned, then simmered in broth—delivered as tasty a base as poached or roasted whole chicken, which took longer to cook than we were willing to wait.
Another time-consuming step: making your own pie dough. Enter the freezer section of our local supermarket—with a twist. Storebought pie crusts were about half the ideal thickness we needed for the dough to stand up the freezing, defrosting, and cooking steps. But before we got our hands dirty in homemade dough, inspiration struck: Why not “glue” two pieces of dough together with a beaten egg to make a double-thick crust? Sure enough, this worked.
But our first full run-throughs revealed a problem: The crust was absorbing sauce on either side of the freezer, so by the time the individual pies (which thawed and cooked faster), emerged from the oven, the filling was dry and the pastry was charred. The solution was to go against our common culinary sensibilities and add what looked like too much sauce to each pie. This way, by the time they were frozen and then baked, the consistency was just right. And to make sure the crust browned more slowly (thus giving the filling time to heat up), we covered the pot pies for some of their cooking time.
Finally, freezer-friendly chicken pot pies to enjoy whenever the mood strikes.