Comfort food without the fat

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Recipes Recipe for french toast-topped chicken pot pie

Chicken potpie may be a classic comfort food, but it's hard to feel good about the amount of fat in most recipes.

The chicken and vegetables in it are fine, but a puff pastry or pie crust topping and a rich cream sauce inside can more than offset those. This recipe can be rescued with a few easy fixes.

Chicken potpie may be a classic comfort food, but it's hard to feel good about the amount of fat in most recipes.

The chicken and vegetables in it are fine, but a puff pastry or pie crust topping and a rich cream sauce inside can more than offset those. This recipe can be rescued with a few easy fixes.

For the sauce, try an easy low-fat bechamel. Whisk together 90 ml (6 tbsp) of all-purpose flour with 750 ml (3 cups) of low-fat milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat until the mixture thickens and boils, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in a beaten large egg.

Flavour with a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese or chicken broth.

As for the crust topping, there are a few options. You could go the shepherd's pie route and layer low-fat mashed potatoes over your fillings. Just sprinkle the potato topping with a bit of paprika for colour, then bake until golden-brown.

We also like the idea of using a french toast-style topping. Using an unsweetened version of the egg-dipped breakfast favourite creates a crispy, golden upper crust.

If you like, you can cut the fat and cholesterol a bit by making the french toast topping with egg substitute rather than whole eggs.

French Toast-Topped Chicken Pot pie

Start to finish: 40 minutes (20 minutes active)

15 ml (1 tbsp) butter

15 ml (1 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil

45 ml (3 tbsp) all-purpose flour

1 can (398 ml/14 oz) reduced-sodium chicken broth

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) cubed (1 cm/1/2 inch) butternut squash

500 ml (2 cups) cooked and shredded boneless, skinless chicken breast

250 ml (1 cup) frozen baby peas

75 ml (1/3 cup) reduced-fat sour cream

5 ml (1 tsp) lemon juice

2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt

2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground black pepper

2 ml (1/2 tsp) dried herbs de Provence (or thyme)

75 ml (1/3 cup) low-fat milk

2 large eggs

6 slices firm white bread, halved diagonally, crusts trimmed

Heat oven to 230 C (450 F). Coat a 2-l (8-by-8-inch) square glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large saucepan over low, heat butter and olive oil until butter is melted. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in broth.

Increase heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sauce simmers and thickens, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add squash and continue simmering, stirring often, until squash is nearly tender, about 4 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat and stir in chicken, peas, sour cream, lemon juice, salt, pepper and herbs. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk together milk and eggs. Dip 2 triangles of bread at a time in egg mixture until soaked. Arrange slices over top of filling in baking dish.

Bake until bread is golden-brown on top, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Alternatively, the recipe can be prepared in individual ramekins. For ease, arrange ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet before filling.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 300 calories; 84 calories from fat; 9 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 95 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrate; 19 g protein; 3 g fibre; 586 mg sodium.

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