It started simply enough. I wanted to make a one-dish meal that hit all the important food groups: protein, vegetables and bread.
But it had to serve 10. And it had to have a gluten-free variant. And it couldn’t take all day to prepare because it was for a Monday night supper. And if possible, it really needed to serve 12, because 5 of the 10 eaters were going to be men between 25 and 30.
I started looking for recipes for chicken pot pie for a crowd. What I learned is that, apparently, people who write recipes think that 6 or 8 people is a crowd. (They clearly haven’t been to my house, ever.) So I started brainstorming. Double the ingredients. Make gravy with cornstarch instead of flour. Bake it in a 9″x13″ pan. Decide against doing the math to turn a 9″ round pie shell into a 9″x13″ rectangular crust and buy puff pastry instead. Use that unopened box of gluten-free Bisquick that’s been sitting in my cupboard for the last 18 months to make a smaller gluten-free casserole alongside the big one.
Then, at the last minute, decide that the thought of chicken pot pie all by itself on a plate is just sad. Start thinking about what sounds good with chicken pot pie and go from jello salad to fruit salad to waldorf salad and finally arrive at pear, walnut and gorgonzola salad. Find it impossible to get the thought of chicken and pears next to each other out of your head and run to the store to get the ingredients.
By accident, this turned out to be a reasonably healthy meal (minus the puff pastry… and the pumpkin milkshakes that we had for dessert). Aside from the gravy (I clearly just need to improve my gluten-free roux, because gravy made with a slurry just doesn’t compare), I would make this again, for a crowd or for a few.
Chicken pot pie (for a crowd)
2 rotisserie chickens
5 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced into medium chunks
5 medium-to-large carrots, diced
6 stalks celery, diced
2 large onions, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen petite peas
gravy, made from about 4 cups of chicken broth
puff pastry, completely thawed
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375°.
Remove the skin from the chickens and shred the meat. Meanwhile, place your diced potatoes in a large stock pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes for around 8 minutes, until barely fork tender. Drain potatoes; return to pot.
Heat a few tablespoons of butter and/or olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until starting to turn translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add the carrots and celery; cook for 2-3 minutes, until just barely tender but still crisp.
Add onion mixture, chicken and peas to potato pot; gently toss. Add gravy and combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into:
one deep 9″x13″ casserole + one 8″x8″ casserole, or
two shallow-to-average 9″x13″ casseroles, or
one deep 9″x13″ casserole + one 9″ pie plate
Gently unroll puff pastry to cover the casserole. If you’re using the Pepperidge Farms variety that’s easiest to find in grocery stores, you will likely need to use both sheets of puff pastry. If you’re in Portland, you can get one giant roll of puff pastry at New Seasons or Whole Foods instead.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until pastry is golden.
Gluten-free variation: In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup gluten-free Bisquick, 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg and 2 tbsp melted butter. Drop by spoonfuls over the casserole. Bake until golden, which Betty Crocker said would take 25 minutes but which took 40 minutes in my oven.