Full disclosure- it’s 65 degrees outside. I can almost promise that there’s not a single person in the state of Alabama that is actually interested in eating this cheddar cornmeal chicken pot pie right now. But sometimes we do weird stuff on this blog, so let’s not shy away from it. Let’s just go for it.
Growing up, I can remember eating those personal pot pies that came frozen in a tiny foil pie pan. I’d pick out the peas and hide them under the rim of my bowl until the dog got close enough to eat them out of the palm of my sticky little paw. Now, as an adult, I appreciate pot pie for its comfort. A thick and buttery stew, bubbling with chunks of chicken and diced veggies, all topped with a flaky pie crust, somehow feels cozier than a cable knit sweater. Pot pie dinners feel like home.
This, my friends, it not your average pot pie. This cheddar cornmeal chicken pot pie is the sexy, Southern cousin of the regular ole’ pot pie that swoops in from out of town, steals your boyfriend, and sends everyone running to the store for cheddar cheese so that they can be cool like the new kid.
The filling, adapted from Ina Garten’s famous recipe, is unassumingly delicious. Carrots, peas, chicken, onions, and enough butter to grease up Danny Zuko and the rest of the T-Birds, comes together in one pot to make a thick and creamy filling. The surprising part of this dish- the part that would make you slap yo mama and sing the Hallelujah Chorus- is the crust. Cornmeal and sharp cheddar cheese are the stars of this show, providing a crunch and creamy tang with every bite. Spiced with black pepper, garlic, and a few savory herbs, the crust on this cheddar cornmeal pot pie is like a pie crust meets Southern cheese straw. If that doesn’t shoot this dish to the top of your dinner menu, then I don’t know anything, apparently.
Since coming up with this dish, my somewhat critical eater of a husband has said that this is the single best dish in active rotation at our house, so I tend to make it quite a bit. Thankfully, this is a dish that requires little active cooking time, and the cheddar cornmeal crust can be made (or even frozen!) ahead of time. I haven’t tried freezing and reheating a whole pot pie yet, but I have high hopes that there’s potential there. If anyone tries this out, please, do inform.
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 1/3 cup shortening, cold and cubed
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar)
- 2-4 tablespoons ice water, more if needed
- 2-1/4 cups chicken stock
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1-1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
- 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 3-1/2 cups of diced cooked chicken (I use cooked breast meat)
- 1 cups small diced carrots
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (you can substitute a reduced amount of dried parsley)
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 egg
- In the bowl of a food processor, whiz together the cornmeal, flour, salt, sugar, pepper, and dried herbs and seasonings for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and shortening and pulse in the processor until marble sized clumps form. Add the cheese and pulse a few more times until well combined and the pea sized clumps forms. Add 2 tablespoons of the ice water and pulse until the dough begins to come together, adding an additional tablespoon of water or two if needed. Do no over-process.
- Dump the dough crumbles out on to the counter and form into a round, flat disk. Cover in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or up to three days.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a small saucepan, warm the chicken stock and bouillon cube over medium heat, but do not boil. In a large dutch oven or pot, add the butter and onions, cooking over medium heat and stirring frequently until the onions are translucent (about 10 minutes). Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring all the while. Add the chicken stock mixture and continue to cook while stirring for an additional minute. Once the sauce has thickened, add the chicken, carrots, peas, parsley, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well and turn the heat off.
- Pour the pot pie filling into a 10" cast iron skillet, or another glass/ceramic baking dish that the pot pie can nearly fill to capacity. Whisk the egg with a tablespoon of water and brush the mixture on the lip of the pan. This will help the pot pie crust to stick to the pan, but is optional and may not be necessary depending on your pan.
- On a floured surface, roll your crust out until it is 2 inches wider on all sides than the size of your pan. Be sure to keep your surface and pin well floured to keep from sticking. Transfer the crust to the skillet (I roll the dough loosely back on to the rolling pin and then gently roll it back out on top of the pan), trimming the edges, and crimping them as desired. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and cut a few vent slits on the top of the pie. Place in the oven and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling underneath. If the crust or edges are golden or burning before the filling is bubbling, cover loosely with a piece of foil. Allow to set for about 20-30 minutes before serving.
- The herbs and seasonings in the dough are optional but highly recommended as they add tremendous flavor!
- I have tested many variations of this dough, and this is the one I was most pleased with. I have attempted using all butter, and while the taste is terrific, the texture is not as preferable to me. It's quite delicate and may be somewhat crumbly crye shaping it for the pot pie lid, but the taste is worth the effort.