Chicken pot pie is one of the most classic of all comfort foods, and most people I know have their own specific attachments to it. For me it goes back to childhood, as all the best food memories do.
Every fall, my Dad would leave for a couple weeks at a time to guide hunters into the back country. Mom and I would stay home in our cozy cabin in the woods. But we would always make a trip into town for frozen chicken pot pies, and we would each pick out our favorite doughnut as a treat as well. (Just for the record, my favorite is old fashioned glazed, closely followed by maple bars.)
This became a tradition for a number of years, and now I’ve come to expect chicken pot pie when the weather turns colder, and fall arrives. Even though it’s been so many years since those runs into town for chicken pot pie, the memory still begs for the most classic comfort food every year.
Chicken pot pie is actually quite time consuming if you’re making it from scratch, so I’ve been working on simplifying it. It’s also really difficult to make with a gluten free crust because the filling tends to make gluten free crusts rather gummy – which is unappealing to say the least.
So I thought, why not combine it with my other favorite comfort food of all time – pasta! This actually turned out to be a great idea for a number of reasons. Not only is it still the ultimate comfort food, but it’s so much quicker and easier to make.
By tossing freshly cooked pasta with chicken pot pie filling, I also eliminated the problematic gummy gluten free crust, which is also a major win. It still tastes exactly like chicken pot pie, but in pasta form. It’s also been tested by my mom, and it passed with flying colors!
You start with all the traditional ingredients – carrots, celery, and onions.
They get cooked together until almost soft. I used butter for the most traditional flavor, but I do have dairy free substitutes in the recipe as well.
It’s important to ‘sweat’ the vegetables rather than sauté them. This just means that you cook them over a lower heat, so they soften before browning. This is only import to keep to classic flavor, all little browning of the veggies isn’t going to hurt anything if it happens.
For the chicken, you can either sauté cubed up chicken thighs to add to the filling, or even use leftover rotisserie chicken if you have it on hand.
I used fresh thyme for the filling because I have an abundance of it in the garden, but dried thyme works beautifully as well.
If you happen to have Homemade Chicken Stock in the freezer, this is the time to use it. I have made it with boxed stock which was delicious, but homemade is noticeably better.
I like to add the frozen peas right at the end of the cooking time. Frozen peas have almost always been partially cooked before being frozen, so they mostly need to warm up in the sauce. This also helps to keep them a nice bright green in the finished pasta dish.
If you’re dairy free, my favorite alternatives are either coconut milk which does give this a slightly different flavor. Or you can use my Savory Vegan Cashew Cream Sauce in equal parts for the half and half.
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed into 1" pieces
- 4 Tablespoons butter, or avocado oil for dairy free
- 3 cups diced yellow onion, ½" pieces
- 2 cups thinly sliced carrots
- 2 cups thinly sliced celery
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 Teaspoon dried
- 2 cups Homemade Chicken Stock
- 2 Tablespoons tapioca starch, or cornstarch
- 1 cup half and half, or coconut milk/Savory Vegan Cashew Cream Sauce for dairy free
- 1 pound penne pasta, I used Jovial gluten free brown rice pasta
- 1 Teaspoon sea salt, or to your taste
- 1 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ cups frozen peas
- Optional: 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Sauté the cubed chicken over medium high heat in 1 tablespoon of the butter. When it is browned and done in the middle, remove it from the pan and set it aside.
- Lower the heat to low or medium-low, and add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter with the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables have softened, about 15 minutes (try to keep the heat low to avoid browning the veggies). Meanwhile prepare the rest of the ingredients and bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
- When the veggies have softened, add the thyme and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Mix the tapioca or cornstarch together with enough water to dissolve it. Drizzle it into the chicken pot pie filling slowly, stirring to mix well as you add it. Then add the half and half or dairy free alternative of your choice, along with the sautéed chicken, and bring the mixture back to a boil to thicken it. When it's boiling, reduce the heat to low and keep the filling warm. Season it to taste with sea salt and pepper.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions, then add it to the chicken pot pie filling. Add the frozen peas, and optional parsley. Stir to combine, and cook for about 1 minute to make sure the peas are heated through.
- Serve immediately.
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