“I ate a lot of pot pies growing up, and these are the best I’ve ever had.”
High praise for this humble dish, especially coming from a pot pie expert like my husband. I was just looking for a quick way to use up some of our Thanksgiving leftovers but ended up making something we’ll undoubtedly have again…either with turkey, as these were, or chicken, or even beef or seafood.
These were also a great way to get our daughters involved with dinner. Making the pastry took me back to standing in my grandmother’s kitchen. My grandmother, the renown pie maker, who instructed me to quickly cut the butter or shortening into the flour with my fingers until it felt “silky” and just barely formed into a crumbly ball when I took a fist-full and tightly squeezed it together. After making as many pies as she had her method relied completely on feel. I’m not half the pie-maker she was, but I can make a mean pie crust thanks to her. It’s something I hope I can pass on to our daughters. And there is no better time to start than the present.
Speaking of the present, it’s high time to finish off the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers. Maybe we’ll be making another batch of pot pies tonight!
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t again call attention to Cook’s Illustrated and encourage everyone to subscribe to their website. It was their Simple Chicken Pot Pie recipe I turned to in order get me started, though the below is a pretty loose interpretation based on what we wanted in our pies, and my desire to make these into individual pot pies.
If you make these, let me know what works for you, and whether this gets your kids eating their veggies too! Ours most definitely did!
Individual Turkey Pot Pies
Ingredients for pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 tablespoon pieces
1 – 2 tablespoons ice water
Ingredients for filling:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon grapeseed or vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
5 – 6 small new potatoes, cut into 1 inch dice
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked turkey (or use chicken or another leftover meat such as cubed steak or even shrimp)
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 additional tablespoons of unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
A splash (1 – 2 tablespoons) sherry
3/4 cup low-fat (2%) milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 – 1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 additional teaspoon butter for greasing ramekins
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
In a deep mixing bowl cut the 6 tablespoons butter into the flour until just combined into small, pea-sized clumps. At this point the dough should be very crumbly but hold together loosely if squeezed. Don’t overwork it. When you’ve reached this point, add the ice water one teaspoon at a time until the dough comes together. Knead briefly, pull together into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 – 30 minutes to allow dough to come together uniformly.
While dough is chilling melt butter and oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. When shimmering, add the onion, carrots and celery and sauté until the vegetables are softened – approximately 5 – 8 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes or so, until the potatoes begin to soften.
Mix in the shredded turkey (or whatever cooked meat you are using) and the peas, and then remove the mixture from the skillet into a clean medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
Wipe the skillet clean and place back on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. When melted, add the flour and stir well, allowing the roux to toast to a light golden brown. Add the sherry, stir well, and then whisk in the milk, half-and-half, and 1/2 cup chicken stock. Bring sauce to a simmer while whisking constantly. As the sauce comes to temperature it will thicken. If the sauce is too thick, add the additional 1/2 cup chicken stock.
When the sauce is thick and hot, add the reserved veggie/chicken mixture, the thyme, and parsley. Stir well. Remove from heat.
Prepare four individual ramekins by greasing with the remaining 1 teaspoon butter.
Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thickness on a well-floured surface. Cut four circles using the ramekins as a guide. Discard unused dough or save for another use (you may be able to squeeze one more pot pie out of this recipe if you have an extra ramekin!).
Fill ramekins with veggie/chicken mixture and top with a dough round, tucking the corners of the dough around the filling. Cut a small slit in the center of each dough round once they are in place to allow steam to vent.
Bake pies on baking sheet for 20 – 25 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is bubbling. When almost finished, turn broiler to high and broil for last 30 seconds to 1 minute of baking to lightly brown.
Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly so they can be handled safely by the kids, and serve.
Parent rating: five stars. That just about says it all. These are SOOOO good. You NEED to make them. NOW.
Kid rating: four-and-a-half stars. Maybe it was the “individual” servings and the opportunity to plunge a spoon into the pastry top of each little pot pie, but these went over big with Daughter 1 in particular. Daughter 2 poked around under her crust a bit more, but both girls really enjoyed these. Use the veggies you know your kids will eat. Mushrooms or pearl onions or even string beans would be great, too.