I have four loved ones who've had surgery this month. Thankfully all four of them are doing okay, and in fact will be feeling new and improved soon. Still, I hate the feeling that someone I love is going through something hard and painful. And during those times it feels good to take that someone a meal.
When we had Hank last year, we were lucky enough to have a few weeks of people bringing us meals. We were new parents, barely had time to shower, poop, or change clothes. Cooking was way, way down on the priority list. There were days I shoved lukewarm hot dogs in my mouth because I didn't have time to make myself something. So to have a meal delivered at night was an incredible gift and felt amazing.
During that time, my sister-in-law (who is an overachiever — my kinda girl) brought us a COOLER FULL of individual meals like pot pie, shepherd's pie, and pulled pork. We could pop those bad boys out of our freezer and into the oven in a pinch. She is a chef for a living, so it's no wonder she knows how to feed people right. Having those little individual meals was so convenient that it inspired me to find a freezer chicken pot pie recipe to make for similar situations.
I found this recipe from the America's Test Kitchen blog. Home of the nerdy chefs, be still my heart. I changed a few things and doubled the recipe to make 12 pies instead of 6. You can keep a few for yourself or give them to someone else who needs a night off from cooking. I've even included a link at the bottom to a printable PDF of labels I made that you can cut and stick on top of each pie container (as shown in the photo above).
Freezer Chicken Pot Pies
makes 12 individual pies
To preserve their color, don’t thaw the peas before using.
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 8 cups (2 cartons) of low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 packets of Swanson® Flavor Boost plus 3 cups of water
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium onions, chopped fine
- 6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped fine
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons of dried thyme)
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 boxes Pillsbury® Ready to Roll Pie Crust (there are 2 crusts per box, you will use all 6)
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 (16 oz.bag) frozen peas
- 12 disposable aluminum mini loaf pans with lids
- Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large Dutch oven over high heat until just smoking. Cook chicken until well browned, about 2½ minutes per side. Add broth, flavor packets, and water and bring to boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until chicken is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to a large plate and strain broth into bowl.
- Melt butter with remaining 2 tablespoons oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook onion, carrots, celery, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until lightly browned and softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add flour, and cook 1 minute. Whisk in reserved broth, milk, and thyme and simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces using 2 forks or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Off heat, add chicken and lemon juice to sauce and season with salt and pepper. Transfer filling to medium bowl and cool until just warm. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
- Unwrap and unroll pie crusts onto lightly floured counter. Glue 2 crusts together using beaten egg. Repeat with remaining crusts. Cut out 6 pastry toppings. Stir frozen peas into cold filling and divide mixture among 12 2-cup disposable aluminum loaf pans. Top with pastry and use fork to seal edges. Using paring knife, make 3 steam vents in each crust. Cover each loaf pan with the plastic lid and tape my handy printable instructions on top. Freeze for up to 2 months.
Deliver with a bagged salad and dessert for a complete meal. Though, let's be honest, gravy and pie crust are all the meal you need when you've got some healing to do!