Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chicken and Kale Hand Pies with Cheddar Crust

Wow. I didn't mean to be away from here for so long. I've been busy proofing books about existentialism (who am I? what is my purpose? If a cook swears in the kitchen and no one is there to hear it...), and while I know this sounds lame, still recovering from Christmas. From Dec. 16 until now we have passed sickness around in this house and, well, that REALLY threw things off schedule. There were a couple of attempted recipes, that while they weren't flops, they were just so much trouble that I'm not making 'em again and I would feel guilty sending you into the kitchen only to come out two hours later with six mini-potpies and a sink full of dirty dishes. I have your best interests at heart.

These hand pies are a different story though. They require a little effort but are terribly delicious. Flaky and savory. Easily made in advance and then popped in the oven while you read Go, Dog, Go for the 65th time today.

I made these more kid-friendly by saving out some of the plain cooked chicken and baking the leftover pastry scraps and there were no complaints. The recipe offers to let you cheat and use store crust and just add a little cheddar to the filling, but I really encourage you to make the crust in the recipe. It really put this dish over the top.

As always, we are adaptable around here and since I didn't have leeks I substituted shallots and I used curly kale instead of the black kale. I thought about making them even smaller, more appetizer size, but then I felt like they were rich and hearty and the bigger size suited them.

I love this funky blue plate that belonged to my husband's grandmother.

barely adapted from Everyday Food


Flaky Pie Dough, recipe doubled with one cup shredded cheddar added in with the flour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 leek (white and light-green parts only), halved lengthwise, cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick, and rinsed well; OR 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 small bunch black (Tuscan) kale, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped (I used 2 cups coarse chopped curly kale)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves or a pinch of dried thyme
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup cooked chicken, torn into bite-size pieces (about 5 ounces)
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough in half. On a floured sheet of parchment paper, roll out one half to a 14-inch round. With a knife or biscuit cutter, cut out six 4 1/4-inch circles (rerolling dough once if necessary)(don't have a cutter that big? I used the lid of a Crisco can but you could use a small saucer or bowl as well) and transfer, on parchment, to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, cutting out six (larger) 4 1/2-inch rounds. Chill rounds on sheet until ready to use.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high. Add leek, or shallot and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add kale and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook until kale wilts, 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to combine. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens, 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, season with salt and pepper, and stir in chicken. Let cool slightly.

Place a heaping 1/4 cup chicken mixture on each of the smaller dough rounds, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Brush edges with egg and top with larger dough rounds; using fingers, press edges firmly to seal. Cut a small vent in each pie. Bake until browned and crisp, 30 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let cool slightly on sheets on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

You could easily make these in advance and keep them, covered, in the fridge. I would add a couple of minutes of cook time if you do. You could also freeze these unbaked and then bake from frozen adding about 10 minutes to the cooking time; or, freeze these already baked and just warm through. 

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