We visited family in Maine for Thanksgiving and while I was happy to leave the task of roasting a 30-lb turkey to Tai’s Aunt Sue, I’m sort of bummed that I don’t have mountains of turkey leftovers to work my way through. Because this recipe was fantastic with cooked chicken but I’m sure would be equally wonderful with turkey: and with leftover Thanksgiving turkey gravy, some roasted carrots, creamed onions, maybe slivered green beans, you could create the entire filling from leftovers, leaving only the pastry to make fresh. A mini-composite of your Thanksgiving table, wrapped around flaky, hot, cheesy pastry: sounds good to me!
Either way, whether you have mounds of turkey leftovers to eat, or a couple of legs from a simple roasted chicken, this recipe is a winner. I was catching up on food blog reading last week and stumbled upon the gorgeous pictures of this cheddar & apple handpie by Stephanie at Desserts for Breakfast. Now, I’m not an apple pie fan (I know, I know: I’m anti-American) but the thought of a flaky, cheddar-infused pastry handpie wouldn’t leave me alone. I had chicken legs in the fridge from a bird roasted earlier in the week and the rest was easy: a couple of carrots, a leek, some fresh herbs. Chicken pot pasties were born.
These were truly delicious: a bit of a project, as is anything that involves pastry dough and individual servings, but so worth it. The pastry is amazing: supremely flaky, buttery, tangy, the perfect foil for the savory, homey chicken stew within. Also the recipe is quite adaptable: in fact, I’m now thinking of wrapping this pastry dough around all sorts of savory meat or vegetarian stews. But for now, Tai just pulled the last couple of pasties from the freezer and popped them in the oven: it’s going to be a delicious lunch!
- 9 oz (2 cups) whole wheat pastry flour (or AP flour)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves (or other fresh or dried herb)
- ⅛ tsp baking powder
- few grinds of black pepper
- 5 and ¼ oz (⅔ cup) butter, very cold, diced to ¼-inch
- 4 oz (about 1 ½ cups) cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
- 2 tsp cider vinegar
- ¼ cup cold water, plus extra for adjustments
- 8 oz (about 2 cups) cooked chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 2 medium carrots, diced to ¼-inch (about 1 cup)
- 1 large leek, white & pale green parts, well-washed, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 4 tbsp butter, divided
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour (or AP flour)
- 1 cup chicken stock, heated to a simmer
- ¼ cup buttermilk, milk or cream
- ⅛ tsp celery salt
- salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Make dough. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, thyme, baking powder and pepper. Add grated cheddar and diced butter; cut into flour mixture with a pastry blender, two knives or your hands, until butter pieces are the size of small peas. Add vinegar and water; knead lightly in the bowl until dough just begins to hold together. Add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, if necessary to get dough to hold its shape. Roll onto a lightly floured worksurface and knead once or twice; just enough to form a cohesive disk, then cover well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
- Make filling. Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet until foaming. Add carrots and leeks, stir and sauté over medium-low heat until softened, but not translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large heat-safe bowl. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 3 tbsp butter until foam subsides. Add flour and, stirring constantly, cook over medium-low heat until roux has thickened, become smooth, and turned a light golden color, about 5 minutes. Stir in the hot chicken stock, still stirring constantly, until the gravy is smooth. Slowly incorporate the buttermilk, still stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in celery salt, salt and pepper. Gravy will be quite thick; it will thin upon baking in the filling. Taste, adjust seasonings, and combine chicken, thyme, and gravy with the vegetables (I used only about ⅔ of the total amout of gravy; feel free to add all, or less, according to how wet you’d like your filling.). Mix well, taste and adjust any seasonings. Set filling aside.
- Assemble pasties. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (425 degrees F). Remove pastry dough from refrigerator; when warm enough (about 20 minutes) roll out to ⅛-inch thickness and cut 5-inch circles (I used an upside cereal bowl as a template). Fill each pastry circle with 2 – 3 heaping tablespoons of chicken filling. Fold over into a half-moon shape, pressing together and crimping edge with a fork on both sides. Place on a Silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet, preferably in the refrigerator, while you continue assembling. Just before baking, brush with a little beaten egg or buttermilk and slash a few openings in the top of each pastie.
- Bake pasties at 450 degrees F for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees F (325 degrees F convection) and cook until golden brown, about 20 more minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Yields about 1 dozen pasties.
- Traditionally, chicken pot pie contains celery: I did not have any in the house, so I added a bit of celery salt to the gravy. About ½ cup of sliced celery (1 – 2 stalks) added to the sautéed vegetables would be lovely. If so, I would omit the celery salt.
- I’m not a big gravy fan: my filling contained just enough to bind the ingredients together, but not nearly as much as a classic pot pie (I didn’t want gravy to ooze out of the pastie). I used about ⅔ of the gravy made in the recipe above; I really like them this way, but if you do love the gravy, feel free to use all of the gravy. Any leftover gravy can be frozen for another use. If you are using leftover gravy, the recipe above made about 2 cups.
- If you’re a peas-in-your-pot-pie kind of gal (or guy), feel free to toss ’em in. I’d say about ¼ cup.
- Obviously, turkey would work as well as chicken. Use turkey stock, or leftover turkey gravy, to bind the filling.
- I had a little bit of pastry dough leftover; probably enough for 1 or 2 more pies. Double-wrapped, it will keep in the freezer for months.
- I think these would make a great party appetizer, if made mini-sized. The uncooked pasties can be made ahead and frozen until ready to bake.
Cooked pasties can be stored refrigerated for up to 3 days. Pastry will begin to soften and may need to be recrisped in a 350 degree F oven. Uncooked pasties can be frozen for up to 6 months. Cook directly from frozen, just adding a few more minutes to the cooking time.
Fall and winter. And post-Thanksgiving!