I used to really want to hate Chrissy Teigen. I wanted to hate her in a way that made me feel kind of guilty because the last thing we should be doing as women is tearing each other down for arbitrary reasons. Then one day I was in a bookstore, presumably in some sort of hunger-induced trance, and I found myself flipping through her cookbook, and damn some of those ideas were brilliant, and then suddenly I was paying, then I was leaving the store. When I finally came to, I had just made and eaten her coconut rice and my worldview had changed: I realized that Chrissy is just another round-faced girl trying to cook some good food. My final motivator for giving up the Chrissy grudge was the (original) recipe for the dish below. It was perfection. Well, not quite perfection, obviously, because I have tweaked the shiiiiit out of the original, but the idea was nothing short of genius. I’ve changed, Chrissy, I swear, this time it’s for real.
Chicken Not Pie
Adapted very liberally from, but none the less inspired by, Chrissy Teigen (Cravings)
Pie crust adapted slightly from Deb Perelman (Smitten Kitchen)
Pie Crust Crackers:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, measured correctly
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, chilled
1 stick unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 large leeks, with dark green portions cut and discarded, pale green and white portions sliced lengthwise then chopped
½ cup all-purpose flour, measured correctly
4 cups chicken stock
¾ cup heavy (whipping) cream
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
½ lb baby potatoes, diced
1 cup frozen peas
Start by making the crust. Fill a measuring cup with ice water and set in the fridge until ready to use. Cut the butter into ½ -inch cubes and return to the fridge to firm up for 10 minutes. In a large bowl (preferably a wide one that is not made of metal) combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle the cold cubes of butter over the flour mixture and start cutting them in using either 2 knives or a pastry blender. Continually clean off the knives or pastry blender to avoid butter build up. Constantly scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed to ensure that everything is getting mixed in and cut up evenly. When most of the butter is the size of small beans, stop cutting. This won’t take as long as you think, and quite frankly it is MUCH better to stop cutting too early than too late. If I see quite a few bigger chunks amidst the otherwise adequate butter pieces, I will sometimes get in there with my hands (which I have run under very cold water and dried off) and just quickly rub the big pieces between my fingers to break them up.
Drizzle about ½ cup of your ice water (minus the cubes of course) over the buttery flour. Use a fork to gather the dough together. Keep adding cold water, 1 tbsp at a time to help the dough come together. Avoid the temptation to over-add water and stop as soon as the dough can come together without then falling apart (but before it becomes sticky and over-moistened). Gather the dough into a large lump, flatten into a large disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for an hour.
Once the dough is thoroughly chilled, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the dough into roughly a 14-inch round on a lightly floured surface. When rolling out the pie crust, ensure that you’re constantly turning the dough (to avoid parts of it sticking or getting rolled thinner than other areas) and lightly dusting any sticky spots with flour. Carefully transfer the round to an extra-large lined baking sheet (ensuring that it does not flop over the sides) and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the sheet from front-to-back halfway through baking, until the crust is golden and crisp. Cool the crust completely before breaking into large crackers. Set aside until ready to use.
*Please note: if you do not own an extra-large baking sheet, it may be helpful to divide the dough into 2 disks prior to wrapping in plastic and chilling, then roll each disk out into a smaller round and bake each one individually on a small baking sheet.
Once the crust crackers are done (or perhaps while they bake), get started on the stew. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the entire stick of butter to the pan. Let the butter melt and foam, then add the onion and leek along with a good pinch of salt. Saute until softened, but not brown, roughly 6-8 minutes. Add the flour and whisk or stir until all of the vegetables are coated. Keep cooking the floury vegetables, stirring, until the mixture begins to brown slightly and smells toasted. This will be a bit awkward and you will perhaps think that you have made a grievous error, but fear not, it will all come together soon. Slowly whisk in the broth about 1 cup at a time, ensuring that you have achieved a smooth consistency before pouring in more. Stir in the cream and season the whole thing with a good amount of salt (tasting it of course, to ensure it is to your liking). Turn off the heat and let the stew sit until you are ready to add the remaining ingredients.
In a medium pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs to the hot pan, season generously with salt and pepper, and sauté until cooked through completely. Transfer the chicken to a plate but return the pan to the heat. Pour another glug of olive oil to the pan if things are a bit dry, then add the carrots and potatoes. Cover the pan with a lid (or plate) and let the veggies cook until they have lost most of their crunch (~20 minutes), stirring every 5 minutes or so to avoid burning. Transfer the veggies to the stew along with the cooked chicken thighs. Turn the heat to medium and let the stew come to a gentle simmer before stirring in the frozen peas. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the peas are tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Serve the “not pie” in deep bowls with crust crackers either on the side or poking into the stew. You can die now; your life is complete.