Chicken potpie is the epitome of comfort food for me. I think fondly of the frozen chicken potpies I would eat as a kid when Mom and Dad went out for the evening and our babysitter needed something easy to feed my sisters and me. I haven't had one of those in years, but I still remember the long wait for it to bake! The finger-burning spot between the edge of the crust and the little aluminum pan when you quickly grabbed it to flip the whole thing over onto your plate. The steam escaping when you punctured the bottom crust with your fork, and the tongue-burning first bite because you just couldn't wait another minute. Crust! Gravy! Perfect little squares of chicken, potato and carrots!
OK, nostalgic interlude over. "Chicken potpie" still sounds comforting, only now I require more nutritional wholesomeness from my food and more real flavor. Three EatingWell healthy updated chicken potpie recipes-each with a different type of crust or topping-satisfy my potpie needs and bring this classic back to my dinner table in a healthy way.
1. Dumpling-Topped Chicken Potpie
EatingWell's "blue-plate special" Chicken Potpie is so easy. You use a bag of frozen little pearl onions (no chopping!), diced leftover cooked chicken (no new cooking!) and whole baby carrots (no chopping again!). A little reduced-fat sour cream in the filling adds extra-heartiness under the biscuit topping. That topping is like a drop dumpling, made with a mix of whole-wheat pastry flour and all-purpose flour and given tang and savoriness with buttermilk and dried thyme.
2. Crust-Topped Creamy Chicken Potpie
As you might expect, a potpie encased in lard-based pie crust isn't really the EatingWell way. Still, we didn't want to give up being able to present everyone in the family with their own little potpie for dinner. Our Creamy Chicken Potpie does that deliciously (and lardlessly) by topping an easy chicken filling with a phyllo-dough crust. They're ready to serve in 45 minutes and each is a perfect portion. (And you can make them ahead and freeze them for up to 3 months-all ready for the babysitter to pull out for dinner.)
3. Biscuit-Topped Chicken Potpie (pictured above)
I especially like how the biscuits on this casserole-style potpie, pictured above, delineate each serving, so I know no one else is getting more than I am (childhood throwback, I guess). I also like the convenience of using frozen vegetables in the filling-that helps make it easy to put together-and what a great dish it is to make ahead. Having this chicken potpie ready in the fridge or freezer makes it simple to feed your family a healthy dinner.
In this lightened-up recipe for chicken potpie, creamy chicken stew is topped with flaky biscuits for quintessential comfort food. Our recipe for chicken potpie takes advantage of convenient frozen mixed vegetables to keep it quick.
Chicken Potpie with Biscuits
Makes: 6 servings
Active time: 30 minutes | Total: 1 hour 20 minutes
To make ahead: Prepare through Step 3; cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Let stand uncovered at room temperature while oven preheats. (If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking.) Bake until bubbling and golden, 50 to 55 minutes.
Cost per serving: under $2
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 16-ounce bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup nonfat milk
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (see Tip)
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat or white whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
5 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup nonfat milk
1. To prepare filling: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add vegetables; cook, stirring, until hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and thyme; stir to coat. Add broth and milk and stir until thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in chicken, parsley, pepper and salt. Transfer to a 9-by-13 inch (or 3-quart) baking dish.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
3. To prepare biscuits: Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture begins to look like cornmeal. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Drizzle with milk and mix together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Roll or pat the dough into a 10-by-6-inch rectangle, then cut into 6 biscuits. (Or use a cookie cutter, if you prefer.) Place biscuits on top of the filling with equal space in between (they'll only partially cover the top).
4. Bake the potpie until it is bubbling around the edges and the biscuits are light brown, 38 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Per serving: 584 calories; 25 g fat (7 g sat, 11 g mono); 81 mg cholesterol; 59 g carbohydrate; 1 g added sugars; 34 g protein; 7 g fiber; 708 mg sodium; 658 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (91% daily value), Calcium & Folate (27% dv).
Tip: If you don't have leftover chicken, you can quickly cook chicken by poaching it. Place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a skillet or saucepan. Add lightly salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size. (1 pound raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts = about 2 1/2 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken.)
What's your favorite chicken potpie topping: biscuits, dumplings or pie crust?
By Wendy Ruopp
Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she writes about food for the Weeknights column of EatingWell Magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.
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