Saturday, July 14, 2012

Savory Chicken Hand Pies

  If you're always finding yourself with an abundance of leftovers from a previous nights meal, here's a fun and tasty idea to use up leftover chicken.  This delicious "portable" version of a chicken pot pie, similar to a pasty, is very simple to make and also versatile.  They freeze very well, either baked or unbaked, so make up several of them, and have them on hand for a tasty snack or a quick meal.  Turkey or ground beef can also be used, and experiment with different veggie combos, or make an all veggie one!

  You want to start by making the filling first, because it needs to chill, in the refrigerator, before making the actual pies.  

For the filling, you'll need:

1 heaping cup of cooked shredded chicken meat (this can be leftovers or from a store-bought rotissiere chicken)

2 Tbs unsalted butter

½ cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped carrot
½ teas coarse salt
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1½ cups chicken broth (low-sodium store bought or homemade)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese  

   To make the filling, melt the butter in a 10" skillet, on medium heat.  Add the onion, celery, and carrot and saute for 3 minutes.  Stir in the salt and flour and cook for 1 minute more.

   Add the chicken broth and stir until it thickens, about 2-5 minutes.

  Stir in the chicken and the Parmesan cheese.  Cool and chill the filling in the refrigerator.

  Now make the pastry dough.  For the novice baker, this has been deemed the most forgiving dough to work with.  Easily rolls out and doesn't tear.  The cream cheese allows this dough some elasticity and the results are tender and flaky.
  If you don't have a food processor, this can all be done by hand.

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup heavy cream
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teas coarse salt

  In a food processor, process the butter, cream cheese, and cream until smooth.
  Add the flour and salt.  Process just until combined and the dough holds together in a ball.

    Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface.  Divide into 2 equal pieces.  Flatten into disks and wrap each in plastic wrap.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.  Can also chill the dough overnight, but be sure to take the dough out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before rolling out.

  Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit.  Butter or line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner.

  Working with one dough disk at a time, roll dough out onto a floured surface to about 1/8" thick.  Using a 5" round cutter or an overturned bowl (about 5" in diameter) cut out circles, 3 at a time.  Re-roll dough scraps and cut out more circles.  You should have a total of 10 circles, 5 from each piece of dough.

Place ¼ cup of the chilled filling on one side of a dough circle.  Wet the edges of the dough with a little water.  Fold the dough over to form a half circle.  Pinch the edges closed and crimp with a fork.  Repeat this with the remaining dough circles.  At this point, the hand pies can be frozen.

  Place the hand pies on the prepared baking sheets and chill for about 15 minutes.  Prick each hand pie on top, twice, with a fork.  Whisk together 1 large egg with 1 Tbs water.  Brush this egg wash over each hand pie.  Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown.  Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

   Make plenty, because these hand pies will disappear quickly.  

   Baked hand pies can be cooled and then frozen, and reheated in the microwave.
  To bake the frozen unbaked pies, simple place the desired number of hand pies on a prepared baking sheet, as directed above, brush with the egg wash and bake as directed above, adding about 5 minutes more to the baking time.
  For a great party appetizer, try cutting 3" circles and using about a Tbs of the filling, and continue as directed!