Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Mini Pie Revolution

I absolutely LOVE little pies of any sort. I am digging through my shelves of baking dishes, all well loved, to find that I do not have enough of the same size ramekins for my chicken pot pies. I am not surprised. When I go shopping unexpectedly, you know, there is always an ingredient I am looking for and I have to go to ten-buck-two to find this ingredient because it is a must have for this new dish, well anyways, I inevidably run into a sale on bake ware and there is just a few left. Of course I should walk away but. . .I don't. Now I have a kitchen full of odd numbers in sets. Personally, I think it just adds to the homey and well-loved feeling when sharing something made from scratch with family and friends. What better friends then my fellow cooking friends here at the mini pot pie event!

I really got into making these little pies. I started by making my own homemade chicken stock. 5 quarts of this wonderfully chicken flavored stock is now measured, and set in Ziploc bags in my freezer. I keep peeking in the freezer in disbelief. The disbelief is because I did this during a weeknight. I get home from work around 5 p.m. right now (along with having to get up at 4 a.m. to go to work), put everything together and forgot that this particular stock takes about 7 hours to cook. I stayed up till 2 a.m. so that I could cool the stock enough to put it into the refrigerator. Alton Brown, on the Food Network, had a great idea of setting bottles of frozen water into the middle of the pan when putting everything into the refrigerator to fully cool. This way, the stock cools quickly and evenly. Then I can just peel the jelled grease from the top of the stock and measure out to freeze. Easy.
I love my pot pie crust. The reason is because the crust has butter AND cream cheese. . .no sugar. The cream sauce is created from chicken stock, flour, and heavy cream along with butter and seasoning. Quick and easy. The filling ingredients are fun because, well, how can you go wrong with a group of ingredients that you can continually change according to what you have on hand in the refrigerator? For this pot pie, I bought a garlic rotisserie chicken and just shredded the meat. My big short-cut. =).
Creamy, Chunky, Chicken Pot Pies
Filling Ingredients:
3 T. unsalted butter
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 purchased cooked rotisserie chicken or 1 whole stewed chicken, cooled (See note at end of recipe)
8 ounces fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
1 (8-ounce) package frozen peas (optional)
Cream Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 c. chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream (optional)
Dash of hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Crust Ingredients:
1 c. (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter
3 c. all-purpose flour
10 ounces chilled cream cheese
1 t. salt 1/4 t. freshly ground white pepper
1 large egg
Directions to Make the Filling: Melt the butter in a large saute pan set over medium heat. Add the onion and potato; saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms and saute about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the crushed red pepper and add salt and pepper to taste.
While the vegetables are sauteing, skin the chicken, pull the meat off the bones, and shred the meat or cut into bite-size pieces. Place the green beans in a microwave-safe bowl and add enough water to cover. Cover the dish and microwave on high power about 10 minutes, until the beans are tender. Drain thoroughly. Stir the beans, peas, and chicken into the vegetable mixture. Set the filling aside.
To Make the Cream Sauce:
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the chicken stock and cook the sauce over medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of a cream soup. Add the cream, hot pepper sauce, and salt and white pepper to taste. Pour the cream sauce over the chicken filling and stir to combine. Fill individual 1 1/4-cup capacity oven-safe bowls three-quarters of the way to the top with the creamed chicken filling.
To Make the Crust:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the butter into 16 pieces. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the butter and flour until crumbly. Add the cream cheese, salt, and white pepper. Continue pulsing just until the dough forms a ball.
Set the dough on a flat surface dusted with flour. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Measure the diameter of the pot pie bowls--mine are about 4 inches across- -and cut out dough rounds that are 1 1/2-inches larger in diameter. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Lay the dough rounds on top of the pot pies, making sure the dough hangs evenly over each bowl. Brush the dough lightly with the beaten egg. Bake the pies for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.
You can use a whole stewing chicken with 2 carrots, unpeeled, cut in half, 2 stalks of celery, cut in half, 10 whole peppercorns, and 5 quarts of water in a large stockpot and bring to boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer the stock for 1-hour, uncovered. (The liquid level should drop by about 1-inch.) Turn the heat as low as possible and simmer uncovered for at least 2 hours. Now you have your stock and chicken meat for the pot pies.
***NOTE 2***
I make extra pot pies, double wrap them with plastic wrap or use a large Ziploc bag and pop them into the freezer. I can take any amount out and bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 30 minutes and waalaa! Dinner is served! =D


Deborah said...

I actually saw a mini pot pie post on another blog this morning, and now I am REALLY craving one!! I especially want to try out this crust.

Big Boys Oven said...

OMG, so lovely, I am salivating now!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Lovely, lovely - there's something just so comforting about these pot pies...