Side Orders: White wine sauce lifts chicken potpie into gourmet territory

Anne Braly
Anne Braly

Potpies are an easy solution to dinner. They're an all-in-one dish that require no sides other than a fruit salad using whatever fresh fruit is available this time of year ... Mandarin oranges, pineapple and bananas, for example.

The delicious savory pies have certainly come a long way since Swanson introduced those convenient frozen pies in the 1960s. They were an answer to a working mother's dream - and kids loved them. Why, I will never know.

photo Anne Braly

Years ago, I found a recipe for chicken potpie with a white wine sauce that was without a doubt the best potpie I have ever tried. It had a grown-up taste that was so much better than the average potpie made with chicken gravy and vegetables. And using puff pastry brought the humble potpie to a near-gourmet level.

Then I lost the recipe between moves and forgot about it for years until it reappeared in the bottom of an old pile of recipes stuffed into a drawer seldom opened.

Now that it has reappeared, I treasure it and look forward to making it whenever I have leftover chicken on hand.

The original recipe calls for using wild mushrooms, but sometimes they're not easy to find. Button mushrooms work just as well. And if you have them, throw in some peas for a little extra color.

Chicken Potpie With White Wine Sauce

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3 tablespoons (or more) ice water

1 egg yolk, whisked to blend with 1 tablespoon water (for glaze)


7 tablespoons butter, room temperature, divided

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces assorted fresh wild mushrooms (such as crimini, oyster and stemmed shiitake), sliced

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup 1/2-inch cubes celery

1 cup 1/2-inch cubes peeled carrots

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup dry white wine

2 1/2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth

5 cups coarsely chopped or torn roast chicken

1 1/2 cups frozen green peas

1/3 cup whipping cream

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Crust: Blend flour and salt in processor. Add butter and blend, using on/off turns, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3 tablespoons ice water; blend until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into rectangle. Wrap in plastic; chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Roll out crust on floured surface to 12- by 8-inch rectangle. Cut into 8 equal rectangles. Transfer to prepared sheet, spacing apart. Pierce crusts with fork, then brush with egg glaze. Bake until light golden, about 15 minutes. Carefully run long sharp knife under crusts. Cool on sheet. Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand uncovered at room temperature.

Alternately: If you're pressed for time, store-bought puff pastry may be substituted for this homemade crust. Bake according to package directions.

Filling: Mix 5 tablespoons butter and flour in small bowl until smooth. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter with oil in large wide pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, celery and carrots; sauté until vegetables start to soften and brown, about 10 minutes. Add thyme and garlic; stir 3 minutes. Add wine; boil until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups chicken broth; bring to simmer. Add butter-flour mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; whisk until incorporated and mixture boils. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in chicken, peas, cream and parsley; bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Note: The potpie filling can be made 8 hours ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing, adding broth, 1/4 cup at a time, if mixture is very thick.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Transfer filling to 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking dish. Carefully place crusts atop filling. Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes, watching to make sure crusts don't burn. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

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