It’s October and Fall has finally decided to visit Los Angeles. I know this because the temperatures have dipped below 80 degrees and it even rained on Wednesday! Well, I guess it didn’t rain so much as it drizzled every now and again, but still. When I heard those first stray drops outside my window, I couldn’t help but grin. It was a big stupid child-like grin. It felt like Christmas morning. I wanted nothing more than to cozy up under a blanket with hot cocoa and think about what I was going to make now that summer had finally relented.
Naturally, I thought about what I would make as I ran a couple of miles. Is that wrong? To, you know, think about food during workouts? I guess it’s confession time: When I workout, my thoughts tend to gravitate toward food. What I’m going to make for my next meal, or get together. What flavors and textures would really complement each other. Or what would I make with whatever I had on hand. Since I had a huge left over chicken breast, tons of butter, and lots of carrots that would otherwise go bad, I thought to myself that the only gastronomically wise choice would be to make chicken pot pie. The only problem was that I don’t really have a deep pie dish or round casserole. So I opted to create a version of the chicken pot pie that any healthy crust lover would be sure to enjoy: the chicken hand pie. No forks. No knives. No nonsense. Just a flaky buttery crust complemented by a tasty gravy with chicken, peas, and carrots. Oh, and lots of fresh herbs.
Get out your blankets and some DVDs. It’s time for some comfort food.
Chicken Hand Pies
Makes 8-10 hand pies (or makes one pot pie)
- 1 c. of cooked chicken breast, cubed small
- 2/3 c. carrots, sliced
- 2/3 c. frozen or fresh green peas
- 2/3 c. yellow onion, diced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 c. all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream
- 1 c. chicken broth
- 1/3 c. wine or beer (sherry wine, or a dry white wine is best though)
- 2 tbsp. fresh thyme, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh oregano, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
Crust (slightly adapted from The Commonsense Kitchen):
(you will have a lot left over, but you can use it for a quiche later)
- 2 2/3 c. all purpose flour
- 1 c. (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, very cold and cubed
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. sugar
- 10-16 tbsp ice cold water
- 1 egg, beaten with a tbsp of heavy whipping cream (to brown the pastry)
You’re going to start this recipe out with the crust. If doing it by hand: In a large bowl, gently mix together the flour, salt, and sugar. Then add in the cubed cold butter, and using your fingers mash together the flour with the butter. Or you can use a pastry blender to cut the flour into the butter. You’ll know you’re done because the flour will take on a slight ivory hue and the butter will be the size of peas. Start adding the ice water by tablespoon fulls. With each tablespoon you add to the flour, stir the mixture to wet the dough. Add just enough water until the dough just comes together when you press it with your hands. You don’t want the dough to be sticky. It’ll be a little crumbly, but dump the dough onto a floured counter and knead it until it comes together to form a uniform dough. This particular dough requires a lot of kneading, which is fine because you really want to work the gluten (it’ll yield a strong crust). You want the dough to be able to hold the contents of the hand pie without a problem.
If doing it in a food processor, quickly process the flour, sugar, and salt a few times. Then add your cold butter and process until the butter is the size of peas and resembles coarse bread crumbs. While still pressing the flour, add the cold water one tablespoon at a time until the dough forms into a ball. Dump out the dough onto a floured surface and knead it as you would above.
If making the hand pies, flatten the dough out into a disk, wrap it up in saran wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. If making a traditional pot pie, split the dough in two, and do the same.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Start making the filling. In a large saute pan, melt together the butter and oil on medium-low heat. Add in the onions and garlic and cook until transluscent. Then you’re going to add the flour and whisk everything together, cooking the flour for a few minutes.
Once the roux has cooked for a few minutes, add in the chicken broth, wine/beer, and the heavy whipping cream and stir together on medium heat. The sauce will thicken into a gravy-like consistency. Once the sauce thickens, add the chicken, carrots, peas, herbs, and salt and pepper until the ingredients are all coated well in the gravy. Let them cook for a few minutes over medium-low heat.
You don’t want to cook the carrots too much since the filling will be cooking in the pastry for at least a half hour. Taste the filling to make sure it’s seasoned to your liking. Take the filling off the heat and cover while you prepare the crust.
If doing a traditional pot pie, use a deep dish pie plate (glass gives you the crispiest crust). Roll out both halves of the dough to about 1/8″ thick. Place one round in the bottom of the pie plate, pressing it to the bottom and the edges. There should be extra over the edges, leave it for now. Pour the filling into the prepared pie plate. Brush the egg wash around the edges of the pie dough. Place the second piece of rolled out dough on top of the filling, pressing together the edges. Cut off any dough in excess of 1 inch from the edges of the pie plate. Set aside the extra dough to use later. Press the edges together and brush them with more egg wash. Fold the edge in on itself and press firmly onto the edges of the pie plate. Brush the entire top and edges with the egg wash and pierce the top of the pie with a knife 4 or 5 times. Bake in the over for 30-40 minutes or until the dough is light golden brown.
If doing hand pies, roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thick and cut into 6″ circles.
Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash (this will help the edges stick together). Then spoon in the filling, being sure to not over fill it (like I did here). Otherwise the filling will try to escape! Press down on the edges and carefully move the pies to a parchment lined pan.
Brush the pies with egg wash and pierce each pie with a fork a few times. Place the pies in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the pies are a light golden brown. Turn the pans around in the oven to make sure they bake evenly.