Chicken potpie lightened as a cobbler

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick / Special to The Washington Post /

Published May 21, 2013 at 05:00AM

Potpies are just plain appealing, but the crust and filling are loaded with fat and calories.

Here, corn bread takes the place of a standard pie crust. It brings fiber, flavor and a savory-sweet homeyness to the dish. I like to start with the recipe on the back of a cornmeal package, but feel free to improvise.

I use cornstarch, not the usual butter-and-flour roux, to thicken the filling. The only tricky part is that there’s no perfect ratio of cornstarch to broth. You might need to add extra cornstarch dissolved in wine, broth or cold water. Adapted from a recipe on the Indian Head brand cornmeal package.

Corn Bread-Topped Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

For the filling:

2 TBS mild olive oil

1 med onion, finely chopped (1 C)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

6 oz carrots, scrubbed well, then cut into pea-size pieces (generous 1 C)

Kernels from 2 ears of corn (may substitute 11⁄3 C defrosted corn kernels)

1 lb cooked skinless white-meat chicken, cut or torn into bite-size pieces (from 11⁄2 lbs raw)

10 sprigs thyme

31⁄2 C homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth, or more as needed

7 oz frozen peas, defrosted (11⁄2 C)

3 TBS cornstarch, or more as needed

1⁄3 C dry white wine, or more as needed

For the topping:

1 C yellow cornmeal

1 C flour

1⁄4 C sugar

1 TBS baking powder

1⁄2 tsp salt

1⁄4 C mild olive oil

1 C low-fat milk (2 percent)

1 lg egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have a 9-by-13-inch baking dish at hand.

For the filling: Heat the oil in a large, deep saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir to coat; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 7 minutes, until the onion is soft, adjusting the heat as needed to keep it from browning. Add the carrots, corn, chicken, thyme sprigs and broth; stir to combine. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the carrot pieces are tender. Discard the thyme sprigs. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Add the peas and cook for 5 minutes.

Combine the cornstarch and wine in a small bowl, stirring until the cornstarch has dissolved. Pour the mixture into the pan, stirring until well incorporated. Increase the heat to medium-high and return the broth to a boil to create a thickened filling. (If the mixture is not thick enough, mix smaller amounts of cornstarch and wine, broth or cold water and add to the pot.)

Pour the hot mixture into the baking dish.

For the topping: Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Combine the oil, milk and egg in a separate bowl. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until combined.

Spoon the corn bread batter over the filling, leaving a few small areas of the filling uncovered so the sauce can bubble up. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the corn bread is cooked through and lightly browned.

Serve warm.