Chicken Pot Pie: Magnolia Table, Volume 2

Chicken Pot Pie. The quintessential fall meal when the temperatures start to drop and your body craves warmth. Browsing the pages of Magnolia Table, Volume 2, I came across a recipe for chicken pot pie. The temperatures have started cooling off here in Texas, and I was craving that hearty chicken filling.

Once again, let me point out that I do not share published recipes. However, during my research, I found that the Today show has permission to share the full recipe. In the interest of simplicity, you can reference the original recipe here: Chicken Pot Pie via Today

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Salted butter
  • Small white onion, finely chopped (optional)
  • Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • All-purpose flour
  • Chicken broth, store-bought or homemade
  • Condensed cream of chicken soup
  • Shredded meat from 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken
  • Frozen peas
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Refrigerated crescent rolls
  • Mashed potatoes, for serving

Like many of Joanna’s recipes, it seems to be geared toward the working/busy family. Many of the ingredients are what you would already have on hand in the kitchen and/or easily pick up from the grocery store on your way home from work.

Ingredient Substitutions: Our grocery store was out of bulk carrots. I didn’t want to be wasteful and purchase a bag of carrots, so I substituted frozen peas and carrots. I also found a severe lack of seasoning, so I added basic Italian seasoning blend (oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary) and a dash of Lawry’s. Also, I somehow missed the mashed potatoes when I originally read the recipe, so mashed potatoes were omitted due to oversight. Unanswered prayers, but we’ll get more into that in my review.

Summarized Method:

The recipe calls for a very large 9x13x3 baking dish. The filling is made in a dutch oven, or similar pot. The onions and carrots are sautéed in butter until soft. Flour is tossed in to make a roux. The chicken broth is mixed in until incorporated. The condensed soup is added and heated through. The sauce is removed from heat and then the shredded chicken and frozen peas are added. Season to taste. The mixture is poured into the baking dish. The crescent rolls are placed on top and baked for 15-20 minutes. The “stew”, as she calls it, is supposed to be ladled over mashed potatoes.

Alterations: I made a few alterations to the recipe. I did NOT need 10-12 servings of chicken pot pie. I cut the recipe in half, but still baked in a 9x13x2 baking dish.

ChibiChonk’s Issues with the Recipe:

Buckle up because this is going to be a bumpy ride.

This is not chicken pot pie. REPEAT. This is not chicken pot pie. This is a modified cream of chicken soup pretending to be chicken pot pie.

You may be asking, “ChibiChonk. What makes a pot pie a pot pie?”

And I would tell you, “I don’t know the technical components, but it a’int this!”

I think most people expect chicken pot pie filling to be hearty. The filling should be mostly chicken, followed by vegetables, covered in a thick sauce (gravy, if you will), and baked in or topped with a pasty shell. The slice of pot pie should hold together. What it should not be is a hot, liquid mess, and this is what Joanna’s recipe is.

Quantity. This seems to be a theme of her recipes. At the time this review publishes, I have tried three of her recipes and each one makes a mass quantity of food that is too much for the average-sized family. This recipe claims to feed 10-12 people. This is not a bad thing! For some of you, it might be a breath of fresh air because you don’t end up with too little food the first time you make a recipe. So, just a warning. If you pick up this cookbook, make sure to look at how many servings it makes!

I am so confused. Why make a roux if you’re going to add canned soup? This, by far, is the most baffling component to the recipe. If you are going through the effort to make a roux, why would you ruin it by adding canned soup AND chicken stock? Now, before you grab your pitchforks and torches, hear me out. Chicken pot pie filling is supposed to be enveloped in a gravy. The creamy gravy element is the glue that binds everything together ensuring that the chicken and vegetables stay moist while giving you a creamy texture that you wouldn’t have had you just thrown chicken, vegetables, and pastry separately on a plate. If you are already making a roux, you have all you need to create a creamy béchamel base. You’ve already done the hard part, so I don’t see the benefit of turning to cream of chicken soup. You gain nothing by it. Really, you don’t. Skip the canned soup and learn to make the béchamel base for chicken pot pie.

Wrong Proportions in the Filling. I’m going to reiterate. This recipe is chunky chicken soup ladled over mashed potatoes. It is not what most of us would consider pot pie filling.

Served Over Mashed Potatoes?! As admitted above, I completely missed the fact that you’re supposed to ladle the filling over mashed potatoes. Why? Because traditional pot pie is not ladled over mashed potatoes, so I would have never thought to do it or even look for it. I hate to be the pot pie police, but no. Once you deconstruct a pot pie to be ladled over mashed potatoes, you no longer have pot pie. You can quote me on that. My family all agreed. If we were served pot pie filling over mashed potatoes at a restaurant, we would be 100% confused. If that is what you want to do, flip the mashed potatoes to be on top and call it a chicken shepherd pie.

Complete Lack of Seasoning. Again, at the time this review publishes, I would have tried three recipes from this cookbook. The complete lack of seasoning seems to be a theme in Joanna’s recipes. Again, not necessarily a bad thing. Recipes are often a starting point. After trying the “soup” mixture before baking it, my husband and I agreed it just tasted like canned cream of chicken soup. That may not be a bad thing if that is/was your expectation. For us, it was a bit disappointing, because you’re putting in quite a bit of effort. At this point, I was convinced I should have just shredded the chicken, heated up the soup, mixed in the peas and carrots into the soup, and just ladled the soup over the chicken and served the croissants on the side. I would have saved myself a lot of time. I ended up adding a dash of Lawry’s, a heavy sprinkle of garlic powder, and a heavy sprinkle of Italian seasoning blend. It tasted much better after that.

What would I change? I would change so much that it wouldn’t even be the same recipe. What I did learn from this recipe is that a cream of chicken soup base tastes just fine and will do in a pinch. That is really good to know. In a world of picky eaters, I can see this something I turn to if I had to feed small children or adults that may not like a more refined filling. My husband and I discussed that the next time I make chicken pot pie, I am going to cut out the canned soup, make my own gravy, and add some diced potatoes to the filling. We’ll also increase the amount of chicken and vegetables to make it more hearty and less soupy. I’ll also add some fresh herbs.

ChibiChonk’s Final Thoughts

Despite all of the fundamental problems I had with the recipe, we didn’t hate it. It was disappointing, sure. I think anyone with cooking experience that expects a higher level of sophistication can tell by the ingredient list alone that this is not a recipe for those of you with a discerning and elitist palette. Many comments on other blogs condemn Joanna and her cookbook because some of her recipes feature store-bought fodder such as pre-cooked chicken and canned pastry. Others dismiss her cookbook on the basis that she was only published because of her success elsewhere. That may be true. For me, whether that is true or not, I can’t condemn her recipes simply because she is business savvy and a public figure.

I actually enjoy her shortcuts. Not every meal by every person can be a sophisticated creation. I think many of Joanna’s fans are interested in her life and wonder how she gets is all done. She’s given us a glimpse that she is an every day person that yes. Buys pre-cooked chicken to feed her family. I admire that honesty and I am not above a pre-cooked chicken. If you are above that, this is not the cookbook for you.

To wrap up, I am going to say, we ate it all. My son and husband both enjoyed it despite it falling short of our pot pie expectations. Will I make this again? No. Not as written. I will modify it to the point that it wouldn’t be her recipe anymore, and that’s okay. They cannot all be winners. That being said, if you are a fan of a more runny chicken pot pie filling, this is for you. If that filling being served on bed of mashed potatoes is your idea of culinary heaven, this is for you. Different strokes for different folks!

You can grab a copy of Joanna’s cookbook on Amazon currently for $20.98.

http://www.amazon.com

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