Peggy Smith wore many hats during her time with the Southern Living editorial staff and Test Kitchen professionals. In November, 1992, Peggy was the Marketing Manager, keeping six Southern Living pantries stocked with all the necessary ingredients that went into the daily recipe testings. Suffice it to say, she knew a thing or two about quality ingredients and how they can make or break a recipe. Nonetheless, she once tried taking a shortcut and served her family a frozen pot pie instead of their favorite, her homemade Old-Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie. She never tried that again. One bite of this delicious comfort food, and you will understand why Peggy’s family insisted on the homemade version.
1 (3 1/2-pound) broiler fryer
2 quarts water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 stalk celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
1 (16-ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
1 (9-inch) refrigerated piecrust
How to Make It
Combine first 7 ingredients in a large Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken, reserving broth in Dutch oven; discard vegetables and bay leaf. Let chicken cool; skin, bone, and cut into bite-size pieces.
With a large spoon, skim fat (oily liquid) from surface of broth reserved in Dutch oven; bring broth to a boil. Add frozen vegetables and potatoes; return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 8 minutes or until tender. Remove vegetables from broth, and set aside. Measure 3 cups broth; set aside. Reserve remaining broth for other uses.
Melt butter in Dutch oven over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add 3 cups broth and milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Stir in 11/2 teaspoons salt, 11/4 teaspoons pepper, and thyme. Add vegetables, chicken, and hard-cooked eggs; stir gently. Spoon into a lightly greased 13- x 9- x 2-inch baking dish; set aside.
Roll out piecrust on a lightly floured surface into a 15- x 11-inch rectangle (piecrust will be very thin). Place over chicken mixture; crimp edges, pressing against sides of baking dish. Cut slits in top for steam to escape; bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until golden brown.