Ad Hoc's Chicken Potpie

We're big fans of Thomas Keller. One of the country's world's most respected chefs, famous from his restaurants The French Laundry, Per Se, and Bouchon, but still restless, he decided to open Ad Hoc, a temporary-restaurant-turned-permanent, which focuses on a single daily menu featuring dishes inspired by his working-class upbringing.

Being a huge potpie fan, as soon as I saw this recipe in the Ad Hoc At Home cookbook, I knew I was going to make it. I will warn you however, that although this is the most delicious potpie you'll ever make, it takes dedication, requiring about two hours of active cook time, as well as some inactive cook time. This is a recipe best left for the weekend, when you can give it the proper attention, although I imagine it could be assembled beforehand to be thrown into the oven on a weeknight.

Pie Crust
1 cup butter (2 sticks), cubed and chilled
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 to 10 tablespoons ice water

Filling
1 cup 1/2-inch pieces red-skinned potatoes
1 1/4 cups 1/2-inch pieces carrots (cut on the diagonal)
12 white pearl onions
3 bay leaves
3 thyme sprigs
24 black peppercorns
1 1/4 cups 1/2-inch pieces of celery (cut on the diagonal)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Béchamel 
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
Pinch of cayenne

1 egg, beaten

Pie Crust Directions
Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, then add the butter and toss to coat with flour. With your hands or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour, tossing and incorporating and pieces of butter that have settled at the bottom of the bowl, until the butter pieces are no larger than a pea. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the water over the top and, using a fork, mix the dough until it just holds together when pinched; add the remaining tablespoon of water if the dough is very dry. Knead the dough until it is completely smooth and the butter is incorporated.

Divide the dough in half, with one piece slightly larger that the other (the larger piece will be for the bottom crust). Shape each half into a 1-inch-thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or for up to a day (if the dough does not rest, it will shrink as it bakes).

If the dough is too hard to roll, let it rest at room temperature for a few minutes or pound it a few times with a rolling pin. Lightly dust the top of the larger disk of dough with flour and roll it out to a 13-14 inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Roll outward from the center, rotating the dough frequently and adding a little flour to the work surface or dough as needed to prevent sticking. Fold the dough in half and transfer to a 9 to 10 inch pie plate, gently easing the dough into the corners and up the sides.

Roll out the second piece of dough in the same manner, to a 12 inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate both doughs.

Makes one 9 to 10 inch double crust pie.

Pot Pie Directions
Put the potatoes, carrots, and onions in separate small saucepans with water to cover and add 1 bay leaf, 1 thyme sprig, and 8 peppercorns to each pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and simmer until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Drain the vegetables, discard the bay, thyme, and peppercorns, and spread on a baking sheet. Cut the onions in half.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with ice water. Blanch the celery until just crisp-tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Drain, transfer to the ice bath, and chill just until cold. Drain and add to the baking sheet with the other vegetables.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes; adjust the heat as needed so that the mixture does not brown. Whisk in the milk, lower the heat to keep the béchamel at a gentle simmer, and cook, whisking often, until the sauce has thickened and reduced to about 2 cups, 30 to 40 minutes; move the whisk over the bottom and into the corners of the pan to be sure the béchamel doesn't burn.

Position the oven racks in the lower third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Strain the béchamel through a fine-mesh conical strainer into a spouted measuring cup. Season with salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, and cayenne.

Remove both doughs from the refrigerator.

Scatter the vegetables and chicken into the pie shell. Pour the béchamel over them. At this point, if the top crust is too hard to shape, let it rest at room temperature for a few minutes. Moisten the rim of pie shell with some of the beaten egg. Cover the filling with the top crust and press the edges of the dough together to seal. Trim away the excess dough that overhangs the rim. Brush the top crust with the egg. Cut a small vent in the center of the dough with a small cutter or the tip of a paring knife to allow steam to escape.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the crust is a rich golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If necessary, move the pie to the center rack during the last 10 minutes of baking to brown the crust. On the other hand, if crust is browning too quickly, cover with aluminum foil. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes