Monday, September 3, 2012

Individual Chicken + Veggie Pot Pies

The first time I made this recipe, I tripled it to serve 13 friends our entree course at the Progressive Dinner Party we organized. I ended up with six or seven leftover pies because the recipe really only needed to be doubled, so Jason and I froze them and ate them when we either didn't have the time or the energy to cook.

What with birthing classes, game night, and prenatal yoga filling up our weeknights, we've managed to go through all those pies already! I decided use my Labor Day to make another batch since we didn't go anywhere for the holiday (and all our friends did). To be sure, this is at least a half-day endeavor, so plan accordingly. I actually split it up into two days, saving assembly for day two just because that worked better for our schedule.

As a side note, I'm not sure how real cooks who are pregnant roll out pie dough! Instead of being able to use my tummy straight-on to hold the waxed paper in place, I had to awkwardly use my side/hip and ended up with quite the flour-covered baby bump when all was said and done. When Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, I wonder what ingenuity I'll have to employ to get the job done! Thoughts? Suggestions?

Individual Chicken + Veggie Pot Pies
adapted from epicurious

Add to a large mixing bowl:
3 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken*
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon salt

*Because I wanted to the stock for other uses, I followed the recipe here to cook the chicken. I'd never used leeks to make stock, and I thought it was delicious. However, if you want to save a couple hours of your time, it is perfectly fine to buy a rotisserie chicken or to cook your own chicken breasts and/or thighs.

Bring about 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a small pot. Add:
1 cup green beans
Cook for 2-3 minutes so that the beans just begin to get tender. Drain and add to mixing bowl.

In a large skillet, heat:
2 tablespoons olive oil

Once oil is hot, add:
2 red or orange bell peppers, finely diced
8 ounces Cremini or shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 small white onion, finely diced

Cover and let cook 4-5 minutes so that veggies start to get tender. Uncover and let cook an additional 2-3 minutes to allow the excess water to evaporate. Remove veggies from skillet using a slotted spoon and place in the large mixing bowl.

Using the same skillet, add:
3 handfuls fresh spinach
Cover and let wilt (this will take about 2 minutes). Remove from heat. Let cool. Squeeze excess water from spinach and add to the mixing bowl.

Again, using the same skillet, melt over medium heat:
1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
Whisk flour and melted butter together to make a roux. Once roux is made, stir in:
1 1/2 tablespoons beef base
2 cloves minced garlic

A little at a time, whisk in:
1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup milk
1 cup chicken stock

Once all the liquids have been incorporated, remove from heat. Add the sauce to the mixing bowl. Use a spatula to evenly distribute the sauce among the chicken and veggies.

In a food processor, combine:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened

Pulse about 30 seconds or until ingredients come together. Remove from processor and form a large ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes. The goal is for the dough to be warm enough to roll out, but not so warm that it becomes a gooey mess! [I actually made the dough the night before I put the pies together, so I refrigerated it overnight. Before rolling it out, it had to soften for about 30 minutes while sitting on the kitchen counter.]

Cut dough into eight (8) evenly divided pieces. Use your hands to work into small rounds. Lightly flour and place between two pieces of wax paper.

Method #1
The is the method I used to give the pot pies a crust on the bottom, top, and sides. I put these in 2" aluminum tins and froze them for future dinners.

1. Use rolling pin to form a 9" disc.

2. Place one cup of filling in the middle of the disc.

3. Pull one side of the dough to the middle of the filling. Repeat four times (so five times total). By making it five-sided instead of four sided, it is easier to form a circle in the end.

4. Flip over the pie. Use the palm on your hand to flatten the pie a bit. Use your fingers to make the edges of the pie more circular and to create a small crust.

5. Use a fork to create a decorative edge.

6. Place in a 2" ramekin or aluminum tin.

If cooking immediately, preheat oven to 375º and bake for about an hour. You'll want to cover the top with aluminum foil so that the tops don't get too brown before the bottom and sides of the crust are cooked through. About five minutes before removing the pies from the oven, remove the aluminum foil. Use a basting brush to lightly coat the top of each pie with an egg wash.

Method #2
This is the method I used to give the pot pies a thicker top crust with no bottom or side crust. The benefit of this method is that it is easier assembly-wise and you don't have to worry with the bottom and side crusts getting cooked all the way through. However, I find these are harder to freeze because the edges of the crust hang over the side of the cooking dish (in my case a 3" ramekin).

1. Use rolling pin to form a 4 1/2" disc.

2. Fill each ramekin with 1 cup filling.

3. Place the dough on top of the ramekin.

4. Tuck the dough that's hanging over the edges onto the sides of the ramekin. Use fingers to create a crust.

5. Use fork to create a decorative edge.

Preheat oven to 375º and bake for 35 minutes or until the crust begins to turn golden brown. Once the crust begins to brown, use a basting brush to lightly coat the top of the each pie with an egg wash.

Eat up!

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