It’s that time of year. You know, the time to start thinking about lightening things up, if you haven’t already. Yes, the comfort of winter food is incredible, but every year, I look forward to the first warm spring days and the fresh-food cravings they bring on. We’ve had some milder weather this week, and I’m soaking up every minute of it.
Chicken pot pie is probably one of my top ten meals of all time. I LOVE IT. So creamy and rich and encased in rich pastry…it’s just the perfect dish. It is NOT perfect, however, when you’re soon going to be trading in your winter coat for sundresses and arm-baring tank tops and (sigh) bathing suits. I’m not one to guilt anyone about food, because hey, we all need something naughty every now and then. What’s life without some indulgence? BUT, good food doesn’t always mean that it has to be bad for you.
I figured out a way to lighten up this favorite dish of mine. And I gotta tell ya, as glorious as pie crust or puff pastry is, the phyllo dough swap in this version totally conquers the heavier stuff. I almost prefer it. Gasp. It’s just so crispy and light…and still a tad buttery.
Not only do I cut a ton of fat and calories by eliminating the butter-laden pastry, but I also slim down the filling by using a combo of chicken stock and low-fat milk as the base. Yes, a glug of heavy cream would be supremely delicious in this, but we’re trying to keep things on the lighter side, remember? You won’t miss the cream, I promise (although, I definitely wouldn’t judge you if you “accidentally” spilled some cream into the pot). The filling is super flavorful and still quite creamy in its own right.
I’m not trying to permanently talk you out of your favorite pot pie recipe. I have one that is flooding with butter and cream and pastry, and I make it every winter without fail (and without guilt). But maybe try swapping this one for your regular fav every now and then. You might be surprised at how good it tastes.
I could eat the whole pan. If only my husband didn’t also need to eat. Such an inconvenience.
Lightened-Up Chicken Pot Pie (makes 6 servings)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 cups 1% milk
1 lb chicken tenders (or breasts), cut into ½-inch pieces
1 package (10 oz) frozen peas, thawed
Juice of ½ a lemon
6 phyllo sheets, thawed
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat a medium casserole or braising dish over medium heat and add the butter and oil. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and sauté for 6-8 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and thyme and toss to combine.
2. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock and stir until smooth. Add the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened. Check for salt and pepper and adjust as necessary.
3. Add the diced chicken and simmer for another 5 minutes (the chicken may not be cooked through at this point – that’s OK. It will continue to cook in the oven). Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and peas. At this point, you can pour the filling into a buttered baking dish, or bake it directly in the casserole dish, as I did.
4. Stack two pieces of phyllo on your work surface, and brush lightly with canola oil; repeat with remaining phyllo. Trim phyllo to fit your baking/casserole dish and place the stacked dough on top of the filling. Brush the top layer with oil and sprinkle with salt.
5. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.