Baby, it’s cold outside! Quick, let’s prepare something warm to eat.
But not a sweet. That’s because one reader e-mailed a tiny complaint: I publish too many dessert recipes. Many people are trying to eat better and lose weight.
Duly noted, dear reader. And yes, it’s true that I’d rather make dessert than prepare entrees or side dishes or salads or just about anything else. Except maybe bread and pasta, which aren’t exactly diet foods, either.
So instead of publishing something like Mr. Economou’s holiday baklava recipe, I’ll offer you my half-the-calories chicken pot pie recipe.
When I set out to develop a pot pie recipe, I wanted one that was quick to prepare during this hectic holiday season, but one that also tasted good, and wasn’t fattening.
To cut the time, I used frozen vegetables (I love those baby peas and tiny pearl onions), and frozen cubed chicken that I cut and saved from the last time I had leftover chicken. Also, unless you happen to have pie dough discs waiting in your freezer, I encourage you to use prepared, store-bought pie dough.
Finally, here are my two biggest secrets for cutting the pot pie calories in half: First, instead of a making a bottom and top crust, ala traditional Banquet pot pies, I only put a crust on pot pie’s top. The bottom goes crustless.
Second, cut the portion sizes in half and dole them out in individual servings. For example, I used small coffee cups, which held less than 2/3 cup of the chicken filling. A small cup of pot pie with a salad on the side should be plenty of food, and makes a nice balanced meal.
If someone decides to eat two pot pies, that’s not our problem.
We did our part.
Doni’s Herbed Chicken Pot Pie4 T. butter 1 small shallot, minced 1 white onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano 1 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon 4 T. flour 4 cups chicken broth 1/2 cup white wine (optional) Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 3 cups cubed, cooked chicken 2 cups total frozen vegetables: peas, carrots, pearl onions, etc. 1 egg, beaten, with a little water
Saute in a large pot over medium heat until tender the onions, shallots and herbs.
Stir in the flour and cook until the floury taste is gone.
Add the chicken broth and white wine. Simmer and stir until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Add the frozen vegetables. As the sauce cools, roll out enough pie dough to cut 8 tops, including enough excess on each piece to hang down over each cup’s top edge. (I hope this makes sense. If not, look closely at the picture, above. Imagine the dough discs are lids fitting on and over a jar lip.)
Spoon enough filling into each modestly sized cup or small bowl so it nearly reaches the top. Brush the cups’ top lip with the egg wash, including a little ways down the outside edge, so the dough will stick to the cups. Set a dough disk on each cup top, pressing firmly around the edges to hold in place.
Make a tiny steam-escape slit in the top of each dough top. Brush the dough with the egg wash, then sprinkle with a little salt, pepper and dried oregano or rosemary.
Set the cups on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated, 375-degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crusts are golden brown.
Serve hot. Makes about 8 small pot pies. (More or less, depending upon the size of your pot pie containers.)
Note: This is a best-of recipe, originally published in 2007, back when we had about 2,000 unique monthly visitors, compared with the current number of about 60,000 per month.
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.