Gretchen’s table: Apples sweeten this chicken pot pie

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Gretchen McKay | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

In my opinion, you can never go wrong with a roasted chicken, whether it’s homemade or purchased in the supermarket deli section, because it can be dressed up or down to the season with any number of side dishes.

Once the kids are out of the house and smaller appetites prevail, however, a 4- or-5-pound bird can yield a lot of leftovers. Those who don’t like to eat the same thing two (or three) days in a row might consider that a curse.

I’m on the plus side. When it’s tucked under a flaky, buttery crust in a flavorful gravy, leftover chicken can be nothing short of magical.

In addition to being an economical way to stretch your grocery store dollars, a leftover chicken pot pie is the perfect comfort food for these early days of fall, when we instinctively reach for warmer, heartier dishes to compensate for shorter days and chillier weather.

Chicken pot pie traditionally features a mix of carrots, peas and sometimes potatoes along with shredded or cubed chicken. This autumnal take is a little sweeter, with cubed apple finding its way into the casserole dish.

I didn’t peel the apples because I’m lazy, but if you’re so inclined, go for it! I used poultry seasoning, but you could also flavor the gravy with fresh or dried rosemary, sage and/or parsley. At the last minute, I also threw in half a cup of shredded cheddar cheese, but that’s completely optional.

If you don’t feel like roasting an entire chicken, pick meat from a rotisserie chicken or simply roast and shred a couple of nice-sized boneless breasts.

A buttery pot pie made with leftover chicken, apple and shredded cheddar is full of fall flavors. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

For the crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for work surface

1 teaspoon sugar

Pinch of fine salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces

3 or 4 tablespoons ice water

For filling

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 small yellow onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)

3 stalks celery, diced

2 tart baking apples, such as Granny Smith or Jonathan, cored and chopped into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

2 cups chicken broth, preferably organic

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, or to taste

Coarse salt and ground black pepper

3 cups cubed or shredded leftover cooked chicken

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar

A buttery pot pie made with leftover chicken, apple and shredded cheddar is full of fall flavors. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Prepare crust: In bowl of food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse again until the until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons ice water, then pulse until dough holds together when squeezed between your fingers, but still looks a little crumbly. If necessary, add another tablespoon of water. Be careful not to overmix; it will make the dough tough.

Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and gently shape into a disk. Wrap it tightly in the plastic, then place in refrigerator to chill for at least 20-30 minutes while you prepare the filling.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare filling. In a large sauce pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes, then add apples and cook another 5 minutes, until apple also is softened.

Add flour and stir well to cover the vegetables and fruit. Slowly pour in chicken broth, a little at time, and stir occasionally until it forms a smooth sauce. Let sauce simmer until it thickens, about 5 minutes, then add poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix to combine well.

Stir in cubed or shredded chicken and shredded cheddar, if using, and then transfer mixture to a casserole dish. (I used a 9-by-9 inch ceramic dish.)

Remove dough from fridge and roll out on a floured surface until it’s just a little larger than the pan. Place dough over dish and then fold the overhang inward. Pinch with your fingers to crimp the edge.

Cut a few vents in the top of the dough to allow steam to escape and then place in the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until top is golden brown and filling is bubbling out around the edges.

Allow pot pie cool on the counter for about 10-15 minutes before serving so it maintains its shape when you slice it.

Serves 4-6.

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