Old Hen Chicken Pot Pie

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    6

    servings

Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

What makes many Southern chicken pot pies different from all others is not only the use of a full-flavored fowl (or stewing chicken), but also the layer of pastry strips within the pie itself, which provide a delectable contrast with the crispy top crust. Even in the South, it seems that old hens are harder and harder to find in supermarkets or even specialty food markets, so whenever I find one (especially on sale), I grab it and freeze it till I’m ready to make this pie—or the best chicken soup on earth. Notice that the chicken must be simmered at least 2½ hours to become tender.

Ingredients

  • One 4-pound fowl (stewing hen), cut into servings pieces
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 ribs celery (leaves included), each broken into 3 pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • ¼ cup ice water
  • 2 medium carrots, scraped, cut into thin rounds, blanched 5 minutes in boiling water, and drained
  • 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen green peas
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Method

Place the chicken pieces in a large pot, add the onion and celery, and season with salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer till tender, 2½ to 3 hours.

While the chicken is cooking, combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, and cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter till the mixture is mealy. Stirring with a spoon, gradually add the ice water till a ball of dough forms. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out half the dough about inch thick and line the bottom and sides of a greased 2-quart baking dish with it, tucking the crust into the corners. Roll out the remaining dough about inch thick and cut half of it into 1-inch-thick strips, reserving the remainder for top of the pie.

Transfer the chicken pieces to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, bone and cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Strain the broth into a bowl and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Arrange half the chicken pieces over the bottom of the baking dish, half the carrots and peas over the chicken, and top with the pastry strips. Arrange the remaining chicken, carrots, and peas on top of the strips, season with salt and pepper, and pour in enough reserved chicken broth to almost cover the top layer. Fit the remaining pastry over the top of the pie, pressing down the edges and trimming off the excess. Brush the top with the melted butter, poke a couple of vent holes in the pastry with the tip of a knife, and bake till the top is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.