Lightened Up Chicken Pot Pie-Famous Fridays

2015?!! Really?!! When I was a kid, it just sounded so far away and futuristic, like there'd be flying cars and regular trips to outer space. Sure, things have changed, most notably with iPhones and the Internet, but in the things that really matter, not much is different. We still want to keep our families safe and happy, produce meaningful work and have fun whenever we can. Anyway, hope you had a great new year's celebration, whatever you did. And if you overindulged a little (as I did, of course!) particularly when it comes to calories, then this post is for you.

Lightened Up Chicken Pot Pie

Today's Famous Fridays edition comes straight from the pages of The Best Light Recipe by the Editors at Cooks Illustrated, the same people at America's Test Kitchen (I've already posted about them with ATK's Butternut Squash Risotto so you know how much I love their stuff) This book is chock full of favorite foods that have been lightened up naturally--there are no artificial sweeteners or unhealthy additives--just well-explained techniques and ingredients that help you to create lower fat/lower sugar recipes that taste just as good as their more caloric this recipe for Lightened Up Chicken Pot Pie.

Classic chicken pot pie, delivers over 500 calories per serving and 28 grams of fat, a lot of which comes from a buttery pastry crust. This version, which opts for a much lighter buttermilk biscuit topping, is only 380 calories per serving with a mere 9 grams of fat, leaving you a little room to still have a bite or two of dessert and not overdo things. Plus it's pretty easy to make and ultra- satisfying on a cold winter night. 

Basically you throw a bunch of vegetables, chicken, spices, broth and sherry into a big pot and let them simmer till cooked through and tender, thickening the sauce not with a butter-rich roux, but a cornstarch mixture instead. Once that's done, you transfer the whole thing to a casserole.

Then you top it with the buttermilk biscuits, which take just minutes to prepare--

And bake the whole thing until the biscuits turn a mouth-watering golden brown--

The chicken is tender and flavorful, there are a slew of carrots and peas and the biscuits are fairly substantial as well as being crunchy on the outside, while remaining flaky inside. In no way will you feel deprived or that you're eating "diet" food, I promise!

If one of your resolutions was to shed a few pounds, take the stress out of it with recipes like this and in no time at all, you'll be a lighter leaner version of you!! Have a great first weekend of 2015!!!

Lightened Up Chicken Pot Pie-Famous Fridays

Serves 8
Prep Time:  45 minutes; Bake Time 20-25 minutes


For the Filling

  • 6 carrots, peeled and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (optional--I didn't use)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts (I used thin sliced cutlets but either is fine)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

For the Biscuits

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk

The Recipe

1.  To make the filling:  Place carrots, onion, garlic, thyme (if using), oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a large pot. Cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes over medium-low heat, until vegetables have softened. Add in sherry, broth, and bay leaves and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the chicken breasts to the pot and push them down into the mixture. Cover the pot again, turn the heat to low and cook for about 10-12 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink at all inside. If you are using thicker chicken breasts, you may have to add on a few minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate and allow to cool.

2.  Turn the heat up to medium high on the burner to bring the vegetable mixture to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and half-and-half together and then whisk into the sauce. Continue whisking the simmering mixture, for about 1 minute until the sauce has visibly thickened. Remove from the heat. Using the slotted spoon again, remove the bay leaves and throw out. Stir in the peas and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Once the chicken is cool enough, shred or cut it into bite-sized pieces and stir it into the sauce. Then pour the entire mixture into a 9x13 inch casserole dish and set aside.

4.  Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

5.  To make the biscuits:  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another small bowl, whisk the melted butter and buttermilk together. Add the buttermilk mixture into the flour gently, using a rubber spatula and mixing only until just combined and no flour is visible.

6.  Pull off 8 equal pieces of dough and space them evenly over the hot filling in the casserole dish, about 1/2 -1 inch apart. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the biscuits are golden brown.

7.  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving in shallow bowls.

8.  Entire dish can also be made as individual portions in ramekins. Top each one with a biscuit. Baking time will probably be about 5 minutes shorter.


Note:  Recipe adapted from The Best Light Recipe by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated. I left out the celery and thyme, and used thin slice cutlets instead.

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