My inspiration for this recipe comes from Bon Appetit's Cock-a-Leekie Pie. When I saw the pot pie recipe I thought it would be a good one to serve to company since it is make ahead and the ingredients made this meal look like a crowd pleaser. With our upcoming plans to have friends over for dinner, drinks and game night, the timing of my recipe discovery was right and the menu had a starting point.
Except then I wasn't really feeling the pie vibe. Serving pie to this group seemed a little out of place - pot pie to me is homey and peaceful and to be consumed on a cold winter night (watch, I'm sure I'll make this mid-summer!). We were about to play Cards Against Humanity, there is nothing about this game that is cozy or peaceful so the pie didn't quite work for me. Still, the filling in the Bon Appetit recipe was intriguing, so the obvious answer was to 'deconstruct' the chicken pot pie.
For the pie crust, I substituted my Real Buttermilk Biscuits. Although to call these biscuits a substitute is almost offensive. They are REALLY good. Recipe to follow.
For the gravy filling, I made it as the recipe says using our homemade chicken broth. Instead of mixing it into the filling, I stuck with my deconstructed theme and kept it warm in a saucepan on the side. This also allowed our guests to add as much or as little as they want.
For the filling, I liked the chicken and leek base but I swapped out the bacon and prunes for carrots and currants. I know. The bacon swap was shocking to me too, but the bacon made the entire dish taste like a pork stew, so I skipped it. Instead, the carrots gave the filling some healthy body and made the dish more aesthetically pleasing with their bright orange color. I swapped the prunes for currants since I like the idea of fruity sweetness but prunes sounded a bit too overwhelming. Plus leftover currants means currant scones are in our future (yippee!)
Another major difference is that I slow-cooked the chicken. I made the Bon Appetit filling as instructed a few weeks before and the chicken wasn't terribly juicy or easy to shred. (This is the point when I realized including bacon meant pork stew, too.) Another added bonus is that slow-cooking allowed me to basically be done cooking before guests arrived.
Just a heads up, this recipe is going to seem really long but it is actually pretty easy since you make everything ahead of time and I just talk a lot!
Deconstructed Chicken and Leek Pot Pie
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and rinsed
A bottle of dry white wine
4 sprigs of thyme
Salt & pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, white parts only, cleaned and sliced
6-8 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
2/3 c currants
4 tbsp butter
1/3 c flour
2 c low-sodium chicken broth for gravy
1 c low-sodium chicken broth for filling
Real Buttermilk Biscuits (recipe to follow)
At least 8 to 10 hours before you are serving the meal, you'll need to slow-cook your chicken (I cooked mine the day before!). Also, I recommend that you read through the entire recipe before starting since you'll need to decide when you want to make your biscuits or rice. Either before you begin your veggies and gravy or after.
Put the chicken breasts into the slow-cooker, salt and pepper your chicken directly. Add your sprigs of thyme to the mix (I like to tie my thyme up with a twig of thyme to make it easier to pluck out later). Add about 1/4 c carrots and 1/4 c leek into the slow-cooker. Once everything is in, pour equal parts white wine and water into your slow-cooker, just enough to almost cover everything. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. Your chicken should be falling apart!
When the chicken is done, pluck out the chicken and set aside to shred later. Reserve this broth to moisten up the filling later. The slow-cooked veggies were for flavor and I ended up not using them in this dish.
The day of your meal, heat your olive oil in a large pot and add your leeks and carrots. Cook on medium heat until they are almost ready to eat, about 8 to 10 minutes. Feel free to add about 1/4 c of chicken broth to the mix if the oil isn't going far enough, don't add more oil though, you don't want your veggies to get overly greasy. Add your chopped thyme and slow-cooked chicken to the dish, shredding as you go. Add a 1/2 c of broth at a time to make sure it stays nice and moist. Use tongs to turn and combine occasionally so everything heats through. Remember at this point, everyhing is cooked, you just want to make sure that it gets hot enough to rest and then serve. Turn the heat all the way down (or off if you have an electric range) and fold in your currants. Cover to keep warm.
For your gravy, in a saucepan, add 4 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat, whisk until melted. Shake your flour into the butter, whisking constantly until golden brown about 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in your broth, adding a little at a time until smooth. (I used a glass measuring cup with a spout since this all happens pretty quickly.) Simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Cover to keep warm.
Serve the hot pie filling over a halved buttermilk biscuit then top with gravy and proceed to stuff your face. Don't worry, let your guests go first and no one will judge you ;)
Serving tip: I set up this meal buffet-style in my kitchen since it allows guests to add as little or as much of each part as they want also to keep everything nice and warm. Another idea, if you don't have time to make biscuits, this filling and gravy is really delicious over basmati rice as well.
I was a bad blogger and didn't document the making of this meal the day I served it. Luckily, I left my camera out while hosting and one of our ambitious friends snapped this shot before digging in. Just look at that gravy flowing through the buttery biscuit crevices, YUM!
The next day, I recreated the deconstructed chicken and leek pot pie for lunch and to photograph with fresh biscuits, leftover filling and no gravy (I was out of broth at this point). Still delicious!
I hope you give this recipe a shot to wow your guests at your next dinner gathering!