Brace yourself. This is one of those recipes that is a royal pain in the you-know-what. Obviously short cuts can be taken, and some may choose to. That's up to you. About the only short cut is to use deli roasted chickens and buy 98 oz. of chicken stock. Personally, I prefer to cook my own chickens and get the yummy homemade stock. Especially since there will be a lot leftover to go into my freezer. Darn. I hate it when that happens!
Now, I said that this recipe is a pain. It really is because of all of the prep that goes into it, between cooking and deboning 4 chickens, straining and cooling the resulting stock, etc. I usually take several days to do this one with 2 chickens per day and on the third day, make the filling. I also have to have my husband borrow the huge stock pot from his lodge so that I have something big enough to mix everything in after the sauce is made. The sauce just barely fits in my dutch oven. Literally, there was less than 1/4 of inch left.
The four chickens used should give you a big hint. It's 8 chickens if you use the deli cooked ones. I can't explain the size difference. This recipe makes a ton of filling. Fifty servings (2/3 of a cup each) to be specific. Coincidentally, it also freezes well. I break one batch down into 10-5 serving pies. It works for my family, at least for now. Usually we eat one the day I make it (thus making it worth my time initially) and freeze the other nine in quart-sized freezer bags.
6 sticks butter
2 large onions, chopped
6 stalks celery, shopped
3 c. flour
12 1/4 c. chicken stock
5 c. milk
1 lb. sliced carrots
16 c. cooked chicken (4-8 chickens depending on size)
3 1/2 c. frozen peas
1-2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
A few dashes of hot sauce (optional, I leave it out for little ones)
pie crusts (make your own or buy)
Melt butter in huge pot (4-6 gallon) over medium heat. Saute onion and celery until soft. Add flour, stir until smooth, and cook 2 minutes (stirring constantly). Add in chicken stock and milk. Cook, stirring constantly until it boils, then 2 more minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients (through hot sauce).
I bake 3 1/3 cups at a time. Bake 1 immediately (roughly 30 minutes at 400) topped with 1 pie crust and cut slits for ventillation. To bake filling that has been frozen, thaw completely and stir. Then top with a pie crust, cut slits, and bake. It can also be baked in 2 huge commercial sized roasting pans, topped with 2 packages of pie crusts, slits cut.
Enjoy, and after this, take a night or 2 or 11 (as my batch turned out once bagged for the freezer) off.
As an added bonus, after I made the pot pie filling, I had an extra 29 cups of chicken stock. I bagged in 2 cup increments (obviously the extra cup was bagged by itself) for the freezer. Not bad for the cost of 4 whole chickens (roughly $5 each), veggies (1 1/2 lbs. carrots, 1 bag of onions, and 1 bunch of celery), and less than 1/2 gallon of milk. Oh, and a box of freezer bags.