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A Truly Comforting Chicken Pot Pie

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Do you want to know what is the greatest comfort?  Knowing that this savory chicken pot pie packs a ton of flavors with less fat and calories!

The term “comfort food” conjures up a lot of different things to different people – but when it comes to the ultimate warm, cozy blanket of the recipe world, chicken pot pie is a dish most of us can agree on.  It’s creamy in texture with a mellow flavor that soothes, rather than assaults, our taste buds.  and it comes complete with a buttery biscuit topping that satisfies our carb cravings.

Unfortunately, all the qualities that make chicken pot pie a one-dish comfort wonder also make it very unfriendly to your waist, your health and your heart.  So how did I turn a creamy casserole with a pastry topping into a healthy meal and still keep it comforting?  Turns out it’s not all that hard!

For rich texture, keep it simple

Many traditional recipes for chicken pot pie have a creamy base.  This is often achieved by whisking chicken broth and cream (or whole milk, at the very least) into a roux, which is all-purpose flour combined with melted butter.  This classic cream sauce works well, but to cut fat, calories and prep time, I opted for an easy technique often used to thicken simple stews.

After browning the vegetables and chicken in batches to build flavor, I returned everything to the pan and sprinkled a bit of flour on top.  Once incorporated, I began adding the liquids.  This small amount of flour is all it takes to give out low-sodium broth and reduced-fat milk satisfying body and silky texture.  The finishing touch for the chicken filing is a handful of fresh parsley and a generous shot of lemon juice to brighten and boost flavor.

I never considered loading my healthy filling into a double pie crust, the traditional way to finish the dish.  Other variations skip the crust altogether and top it with puff pastry.  this may save time, but it certainly doesn’t do much for the saturated fat content and cholesterol.  You may have seen pot pie served with a biscuit topping, possibly using canned biscuit dough.  I, however, knew I could come up with a simple, healthier homemade biscuit.

The finish dish is packed with savory chicken and plenty of veggies.  The biscuits are buttery on the inside and crisp on the outside, all while keeping the fat content in check.  Altogether, my pot pie is healthy, flavorful and more definitely comforting!

Easy Options for a Clean Sauce

There’s no need to rely on heavy, cream-laden sauces when you can get just as much velvety texture and rich flavor in a lighter sauce.  You just need to a know a few basics.

Skip the roux:  In stews and braises, as well as our pot pie filling, you don’t need to begin with the traditional sauce based on butter and flour.  And a sprinkling of flour to the sautéed meat and vegetables, cook for about a minute (or until no longer white), then add liquid ingredients.

Trade cream for low-fat milk:  If a recipe does require a roux-based sauce, swap olive oil for the butter and low-fat milk for whole milk or cream.  Opt for low-fat over nonfat milk and keep the temperature well under a boil to avoid curdling.

Make it cheesy:  Stirring 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cheese into vegetable-based sauces (like marinara) or pan sauces adds body and big flavor.  If a recipe calls for finishing a sauce with cream, try soft cheese like part-skim ricotta, goat or blue cheese instead.

Try plain yogurt:  It’s a great substitute for heavy cream or sour cream when larger quantities are called for.  Use plain, low-fat rather than nonfat yogurt and stir in when the dish is off the heat and cooled slightly to avoid curdling.

For a savory chicken pot pie recipe, please click HERE

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