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perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Poultry, Dinner for Two, Supper, Sources, Posted on October 6, 2019 by Sandy Bergsten

Yesterday fall finally arrived. I was so excited to pull on one of my favorite sweaters and take Wille for a brisk walk along the lake. That cool fresh air roused my appetite for something equally cozy.

Is there anything more comforting than homemade chicken pot pie? Just the other day that dish popped up in a conversation with friends. We all agreed that it’s everyone’s favorite, though few actually make it. I chimed in that I prepare it regularly for my husband. They all gave me a puzzled look. I replied that it’s easy to do if you get your ingredients from the salad bar at the grocery store and do a little trick with Trader Joe’s awesome pie crust. This piqued their interest, so I explained.

First off, Trader Joe’s frozen pie crest is the absolute best. It rivals even the finest homemade. Just make sure that you thaw it completely on the countertop (it will take a few hours).

Second, one of my pet peeves is having to buy an entire bunch of celery when I only need a stalk or two. That’s where the grocery store salad bar comes in. I get a big scoop of their freshly sliced celery, then chop up a small onion, and slice up some bagged petite baby carrots.

Next pick up a couple small grilled chicken breasts from the prepared food case, or a rotisserie chicken breast, or even chopped chicken from the salad bar.

Thinly slice or shred.

Frozen baby peas taste divine, put some in a bowl of water to thaw.

Sauté the celery, onions and carrots in two tablespoons of butter until just tender. Add a quarter teaspoon of dried thyme. Add a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add two tablespoons of flour and stir for a minute until almost golden..

Slowly add two cups of chicken broth, stirring over medium heat until the sauce thickens. If you want a creamier taste add two tablespoons of heavy cream. Taste for seasoning.

Add the sliced cooked chicken and the drained peas.

Spoon into two-cup ove- safe souffle dishes. But you’re asking, “what about the crust?”, “it’s all about the crust!” Yes, it is. 

That’s why well in advance I take my two-cup souffle dish and use it as a giant cookie cutter to portion out the thawed Trader Joe’s pie crust. Fit the scraps together and smooth through the pie crust paper to make extra disks. 

I then layer the dough disks with wax paper and place in a Ziploc bag and stow them in the freezer. So, whenever I have a hankering for chicken pot pie I just take out a couple tops out of the freezer and let them thaw while I make my filling. 

Top with a pie crust disk. Make several slits in the top.

Place your souffle dishes on a foil covered rimmed baking sheet. The filling will delightfully bubble up and maybe over your toasty crust and you don’t want to ruin the ease of this meal by having to scour your baking sheet.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about twenty-five minutes or until the top is golden and the filling bubbling hot. 

Who said homemade has to be hard?

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