From my new cookbook, Cooking With Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You.
The key to my version is having crust on the top and bottom—and getting that bottom crust browned and crisp before it gets soaked with sauce. I bake the crust alone, then spoon the hot filling over one piece and top with another. I love the way the crust stays flaky (yum) and doesn’t have that gooey raw dough layer (blech). Plus, it makes it great for entertaining. You can bake the crust early, keep the filling simmering, and just combine them when you’re ready to serve.
1. To make the pie crust: Divide the dough into 8 pieces, flatten each piece into a disk, and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.
2. Place one oven rack near the top of the oven and one near the bottom. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
3. Roll each disk into an 1/8-inch-thick round. Transfer to parchment paper–lined half sheet pans. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water. Brush the egg wash over all the dough rounds.
4. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes, switching the positions of the pans halfway through baking. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool completely.
5. To make the filling: In an extra-large Dutch oven or a stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, sage, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, then cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
6. Add all the chicken pieces, return to a boil, then lower to heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Begin checking the chicken after 15 minutes; pull pieces out and transfer to a large platter as they’re finished. Smaller pieces, like the wings, will be done first.
7. Strain the stock through a sieve, reserving the vegetables and stock separately, but removing and discarding the herbs. Keep the broth hot.
8. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin and bones and pull the meat into bite-size pieces.
9. In a very large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Whisk in the hot stock and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Continue cooking until the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream, then stir in the heavy cream. Bring to a boil again, then stir in the chicken pieces and vegetables until well coated. When the filling is hot, stir in the peas. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
10. Break each pastry round to form two half-moons and place one in the bottom of each serving dish. Divide the chicken filling among the dishes and top with the other half of pastry. Serve immediately.
Homemade pie crust is just the best, especially when it’s flaky and tender and buttery. Here’s my secret formula for the perfect crust. Well, it’s not so secret now that I’m putting it here, but I’m so happy to share it. The real secret to making great crust is practice. You’ll start to get the feel of it after a few pies. But even the practice ones will taste great.
Makes two 9-inch crusts
1. In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt in the water. Refrigerate until very cold, about 30 minutes. During that time, refrigerate your butter, flour, mixer bowl, and paddle, too.
2. Make sure your butter’s cut into 1/2-inch dice. Bigger pieces will make your dough puffy. In the chilled bowl, combine the cold butter and flour. With your hands, toss the butter in the flour until each cube is lightly coated.
3. With the chilled paddle, beat the flour-butter mixture on low speed to just break up the butter, about 30 seconds. Add the water mixture all at once and raise the speed to medium-low. Beat just until the dough comes together in big chunks, then immediately turn off the mixer.
4. Divide the chunks of dough in half and very gently pat each group into a round 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour, before rolling. You can refrigerate the disks for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 3 months.