It's a chilly 66 degrees in Las Vegas, today. You think that I'm kidding, but our weatherman actually told us to "brace ourselves" and "grab a sweater" before we headed out the door this morning. Maybe that's because, only yesterday, we were basking in the mid-80s sunshine, but still.......
We're a strong city. I think we'll pull through it.
Whether your version of "chilly" weather comes with a side of snow or--like mine--a side of sunscreen, it's always a good excuse to whip up some serious comfort food for dinner.
And the best kind of comfort food is the kind that comes individually portioned, so that you can have it all to yourself while sitting cross-legged on the couch with a blanket, a good movie and, in my case, an 85-pound labrador.
When I had my bakery/cafe, Julie Anne's, these Chicken and Vegetable Pot Pies were one of our most popular menu items. They originated as a special, baked to order and served as a lunch entree or a hearty dinner to go.
The buttery and flaky herbed crusts and savory filling, loaded with a variety of vegetables and roasted chicken breast, were a match made in heaven for our customers. We received request after request to give the pot-pies a permanent place on our menu.
One of the things that I love about mini pies is that most of them can be fully assembled, wrapped and frozen for weeks. When the craving strikes or when you need an easy dinner, you just unwrap the pies and pop them into the oven, straight from the freezer, and bake until they are golden brown and bubbly. In fact, we sold most of our Julie Anne's pot-pies this way, giving customers the "home baked" result without all of the work.
An added bonus with these pot-pies is the leftover crust dough. Instead of tossing it, roll it out and use round cutters to make flaky herbed "coins." These buttery bites pair nicely with soup, salad.....or just eat them on their own, like I do.
Stay warm! It will be popsicle season before you know it!
These individual chicken and vegetable pot-pies were originally a special at Julie Anne's, but they became so popular that we started carrying them every day! Assemble them ahead of time and freeze them, so that they are ready to pop in the oven for a hearty, comforting dinner.
- 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) mixed chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme, marjoram, oregano, sage, basil)
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) cold butter flavored shortening, cubed
- 6-7 tablespoons (90-105 mL) ice water
- 4 tablespoons (60 mL) unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 medium leeks (white and light green parts only), sliced
- 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) diced red potatoes
- 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) peeled carrots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick rounds
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) all-purpose flour
- 3-4 cups (750 mL- 1L) chicken stock
- 2-1/2 pounds (1.25 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, seasoned, roasted and diced
- 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces
- 1 cup (250 mL) frozen sweet peas
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) heavy cream
- Chopped fresh Italian parsley and thyme (optional)
- 1 large egg mixed with 1 tablespoon whole milk
- In the work bowl of a food processor, blend the flour, herbs, sugar and salt until the herbs are finely chopped. Scatter the butter and shortening cubes over the top of the flour; pulse the processor several times until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Gradually sprinkle 6 tablespoons (90 mL) of the ice water over the mixture, pulsing to blend, just until the dough starts to come together in moist clumps.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a ball, kneading a few times to bring it together. Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
- Melt the butter in a large stock pot or saucepan over medium heat. And the onion and leeks and saute until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until they carrots are softened and the potatoes have started to soften, 6-8 minutes.
- Add the flour, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Gradually add 3 cups of the chicken stock, stirring constantly. Add a healthy splash of Brandy (1-2 tablespoons) and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Add the chicken and asparagus, and cook for 5 minutes, until the asparagus is bright green and tender.
- Stir in the peas, heavy cream and herbs, if using. If your sauce is too thick for your taste at this point, add more chicken stock. Simmer for 2 minutes more. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Divide the pot-pie filling among large ramekins or oven-safe bowls (mine were about 10 oz.)
- Roll out the dough crust to between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thickness (I always find that 1/8 inch is too thin.....1/4-inch too thick.)
- Using a round cutter slightly larger than the diameter of your ramekins, cut out rounds. If you don't have cutters, you can always use a small plate or a mug as a guide.
- Use a pastry brush to brush some egg wash around the rims of the ramekins. Place the rounds of dough on top of the ramekins, and crimp the edges to adhere them to the rims.
- Reroll dough scraps as necessary until you have covered all of the pot pies. See **Note** below for a tips on using any leftover dough.
- Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and brush the tops with egg wash. Use the tip of a knife to poke 2-3 holes in the tops of the pot pies.
- Bake the pot pies until the crusts are golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving hot.
Use leftover crust dough to make addictive herbed crust "coins." Use a small round cutter to cut out circles of dough. Place the circles on a baking sheet, brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 20 minutes or until flaky and golden brown.