Sunday, November 28, 2010

Chicken Hand Pies

Just a quick note: I really stink at taking food pictures. These don't look at all appetizing. But they taste great, I promise. 

So I'm trying to make a bunch of food that can be easily frozen and then reheated, once the bambino arrives. I have a feeling that we're going to be short on sleep, time and patience. I'm not the best of cooks in the easy times, and the amount of cereal we eat for dinner is directly related to my stress levels. 

So here was my first experiment with make-ahead meals. 

Chicken Hand Pies. Or as the call them in the UK, Chicken Pasties. Which frankly brings up all sorts of disturbing mental images so we're just going to stick with Chicken Hand Pies. They're basically chicken pot pies baked into a toasty, hand-held package of crust. 

 Recipe from Sophistimon, except I added more vegetables and tried both square and circle shapes. 
 The squares are easier to make. 
 But the circles are prettier. Chris devoured these. 
 Ready for the freezer. I haven't tried reheating them yet; I've heard that sometimes frozen-and-then-re-cooked potatoes bake into a soggy mush. I'll keep you posted on how that turns out. 

chicken hand pies or chicken pasties

1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 large carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 14 ounce (400mL) can low sodium chicken stock
1 bouillon cube (I actually prefer Better than Bouillon–just use a tablespoon)
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
pastry dough (recipe follows)
1 egg, plus a teaspoon of water, beaten

1. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until potatoes are tender to the point of a knife. Drain and set aside. While the potatoes cook, set a large skillet over medium low heat and add in the olive oil, onion, celery, and carrots. Cook until onions are very tender, about 12-15 minutes.
2. Melt butter into the mixture and stir in flour. Let cook for 2 minutes or so, just to let the flour taste cook out. Pour in about half of the can of chicken stock. Add the bouillon and potatoes. Let simmer a few minutes and taste for flavor. Add salt and pepper if needed. Add in chicken and simmer until cooked through. The mixture should be thick, but not too dry. Add more chicken stock until you achieve the desired consistency (I used the whole can). Store mixture in refrigerator until ready to use (the pies are easier to make if the filling is cold).
3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (220 degrees celsius). Place a piece of parchment paper in a baking sheet and set aside. Roll out the pastry dough on a floured board into an 18×22 inch rectangle (don’t measure! just guess). Cut in half, and then cut each half in thirds, to make 6 equal smaller rectangles.
4. Spoon 1/4 cup (about 4 tablespoons) of the chicken mixture onto one of the rectangles of dough, placing it slightly off center. Wet the edges of the dough with a pastry brush and water, and fold the longer end of the pastry up and over the filling. Press the dough down to seal it, and then crimp with the edges of a fork. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Make two incisions in the top of the pastry with a sharp knife, and brush with the beaten egg and water. Repeat with remaining 5 pastries. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and puffed.