Recovering from knee surgery, Kim grew to love chicken potpie. The savoury pastry gave her ailing body just what it needed: warmth, comfort and calories. Today, she has adopted this recipe which is less heavy in calories than many versions of the meal.
Comfort foods can get a lot of flack sometimes. It’s like people have a love-hate relationship with them. The creamy textures, warmth and inevitable satiation they provide often are associated with the idea that they’re unhealthy. I beg to differ, as this isn’t always the case.
OK, most of the typical comfort foods can be doused in cream, filled with butter or covered in cheese, that’s true. They can pack in a lot of calories. Chicken potpie to me is one of the ultimate comfort food. When I was recovering from my knee surgery, I wasn’t very mobile so I relied on other people to help me make food. I was in a terribly negative place, as my dramatic 16-year old self thought the world was crashing down around me. I didn’t want to do anything, let alone eat.
But then, one fateful day, my mom came home from a day in Vancouver and I discovered my love for chicken potpie. She made a massive deep-dish potpie and it was everything my ailing body craved: comfort, warmth, and calories. It became a go-to food in that first week post-surgery.
I no longer associate this delectable dish with pain in my knee, and have since found a way to make my own without the inordinate amount of calories that the meal usually contains. Containing no cream, a smaller amount of butter, and just flaky pastry on the top, these individual potpies are to die for.
Individual Chicken Pot Pies (adapted from Pinch of Yum):
Makes 6 servings
– 8 tablespoons salted butter, divided
– 1 leek, white and light green parts, sliced and rinsed
– 2 cups sliced carrots
– 2 cups chopped asparagus
– 1 cup frozen peas
– 4 boiled chicken breasts, shredded
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– ½ cup all-purpose flour
– 2 cups chicken stock
– salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
– 1 puff pastry sheet, cut into six 4 1/4-inch squares
– 1 large egg, beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil six 10-ounce ramekins or coat with nonstick spray.
2. To make the filling, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until the carrots begin to soften, about five minutes. Add asparagus and cook, while stirring, until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about five minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in peas and chicken.
3. To make the sauce, melt remaining six tablespoons butter in a large saucepan. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about one minute. Whisk in flour until lightly browned. Gradually whisk in chicken stock and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce has begun to thicken (about 5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
4. Add sauce to the chicken-vegetable filling and gently toss to combine.
5. Divide the filling evenly into the ramekins. Top with puff pastry and gently cut four vents in the top of the crust. Brush each crust with the beaten egg.
6. Place into oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool for five minutes before serving.