Dan Whalen, who writes "The Food in My Beard" blog, offers one of the most classic comfort foods.
"The thing with pot pie, though, is the crust is complicated and can get soggy easily," Whalen writes. "This version uses tots as the crust, so it's easy to make and will be super-crispy every time. You can make this in a large baking pan, but I like to use individual baking dishes so my guests can dig into their own little pies.
Chicken Tot Pie
Makes 6 individual pies
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
5 celery ribs, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 quart chicken stock
2 Tablespoons (1/4 stick) salted butter
2 Tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves
3/4 cup potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes)
1 1/2 pounds frozen tots (about 65 tots)
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pan over high heat, then add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally and seasoning all over with salt and pepper to taste, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl; reserve the pan.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan to coat, if needed, and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, use a wooden spoon to mash and shred the chicken into bite-size pieces (it's okay if there are some large chunks).
Add the chicken back to the pan along with the chicken stock, butter, heavy cream, thyme, and parsley. Bring to a simmer over low heat, then stir in the potato flakes to combine. Cover and remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Place the tots in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high at 1-minute intervals, stirring after each, until they are defrosted and all broken up in the bowl. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and stir well until incorporated.
Set 6 individual baking dishes on a rimmed baking sheet and ladle the pot pie filling into them. Divide the tot mixture over the top of each dish and press down gently to flatten it into a crust. Bake until the filling bubbles out from the sides, about 30 minutes.
Heat the broiler to high.
Broil the tot pies until the crusts are browned and extra crispy, about 1 minute (watch them carefully to make sure they don't burn).
Let the tot pies cool slightly, then serve.
Recipe from "Tots!: 50 Tot-ally Awesome Recipes from Totchos to Sweet Po-tot-o Pie" by Dan Whalen (Workman), in Trade Paperback and eBook formats, available via Amazon
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