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.
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
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.
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
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.