Martha Stewart's Secret Ingredient For Rich Chicken Pot Pie? Cognac

While it may be easiest to grab the frozen version in a box from Marie Callender's, chicken pot pie can be so much more. You can make this classic comfort food at home from scratch, and if you want to get sophisticated and create a truly memorable bite, you can follow Martha Stewart's playbook and add some cognac to your mix of veggies and chicken.

Stewart's version of the dish starts by sauteeing a pot of potatoes, carrots, and onions in butter until they are tender to the fork. Then she adds the cognac to deglaze or loosen the fond — the brown bits that have been cooked, caramelized, and are stuck at the bottom of the pot. But deglazing with cognac also adds a depth of flavor to the chicken pot pie, cutting through some of the rich ingredients and bringing balance to the overall taste. The media mogul says a friend taught her this trick many years ago and she still uses it.

How to substitute for cognac in your pot pie

Cognac, which is typically made with white grapes and distilled twice, can be sweet, dry, spicy, fruity, or bitter with notes of vanilla, caramel, and orange. If you are intimidated by adding alcohol to your chicken pot pies, don't be. The way it transforms the gravy's taste is worth the trepidation. Just remember a little goes a long way. That said, if you aren't a cognac drinker, there are several other spirits you can use as substitutes. Brandy, sherry, or bourbon can pinch hit for cognac as their flavor profiles mimic cognac and add a similar fruity taste.

If you are searching for non-alcoholic options, there are non-alcoholic brandies and whiskies you can try. Tennyson Black Ginger will give your chicken pot pie a little punchy kick. The Pathfinder, a non-alcoholic spirit similar to amaro, is fermented with hemp and will also add a new depth to your recipe. If this variety of non-alcoholic substitutions is not in the cards, try a little fruit juice. It won't taste quite the same, but it will add a sweet, fruity element.