Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Leftover" Pot Pie

Good evening everyone! One of my favorite aspects of cooking is the opportunity to be creative. As you cook more frequently at home, you begin to get more comfortable with the simple concepts behind cooking - thereby allowing you to take even bigger and bolder steps in making creative recipes. Even now, when we use a recipe, it acts as mostly a guideline or a jumping off point to create our own dish.

Where I'm most content, however, is creating a recipe from scratch. Even better is when I can turn elements from previous dishes (I.E. leftovers) into a brand new dish. That was the plan this week. As I was surveying our freezer and pantry, I saw the elements of a new recipe beginning to take shape. Chicken in the freezer, frozen veggies, leftover rice, shredded mozzarella - and I was pretty sure there was some puff pastry in the freezer too. It wasn't long before I had tonight's recipe designed in my head - a chicken turnover of sorts - golden, flaky crust with a chicken/veggie/rice filling. Perfect!

That is, until I set out to actually make the recipe this evening. I pulled everything from the freezer only to find that my puff pastry wasn't puff pastry at all. It was pie crust. Given my goal of making a puffy, flaky filled turnover, pie crust wouldn't do at all. So, what's left to do? Scrap the dish? Postpone until you have puff pastry?

Nope. You simply adapt. Okay, I have pie crust so instead of a turnover, I'll make a form of pot pie.

The creative wheels get rolling again and you adapt on the fly - but the larger lesson here is simple. Never let one ingredient stand in the way of your creative. Adapt and learn something new instead.

Let's get cooking!

The Recipe: Miniature Chicken Pot Pies
This is an Out of the Culinary original recipe

What You'll Need:

2 Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless)
1 Cup Mixed Frozen Vegetables
1 Cup Cooked Rice (Wild rice)
3/4 Cup Vegetable Broth
1 Sheet Frozen Pie Crust
Lemon Juice

Remember, this recipe was constructed of things we had leftover from other recipes, so feel free to adapt as needed. So long as you follow the basic premise (chicken + veggies+ grain/pasta) you'll be okay.

Preheat your oven to the temperature instructed on the pie crust packaging (likely 450 degrees).

While the oven preheats, you can begin to prepare  the dough. The easiest way to make a pot pie "lid" that fits your ramekin perfectly is to simply spread the dough on your counter, flip the ramekin upside down and press it into the dough. The indentation should allow the dough to easily "pop" free of the sheet and the circle will be perfectly sized to fit atop the ramekin.

After preparing lids for all of your ramekins, combine the extra dough into a ball and roll it out once more (You're likely to have lots of odds and ends leftover from the dough, combining it and re-rolling is the best way to get a consistent sheet to use once again). Cut out a circle roughly 25% larger than the lid you made before. Place this into a lightly greased ramekin and press it along the sides and bottom of the dish until you've formed an inner "bowl" that covers all of the sides and bottom.

Once dough has been worked into all of your ramekins, place them on a rimmed baking sheet and into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the dough turns golden brown. While the ramekins bake, you can begin to prepare the filling.

Begin by placing  a large skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add a splash of vegetable oil and bring it to a shimmer before adding the chicken breast to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until the breast is cooked through. Remove the breasts and slice them into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.

Return the chicken pieces to the skillet. Add in the rice, vegetables, lemon juice (just a splash) and vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat and allow the pot to simmer until the vegetables have cooked through. By the time this happens, your ramekins should be ready to pull from the oven.

Carefully spoon the mixture into each ramekin (remember, they've been in a 450 degree oven and are therefore very HOT) Once all of your ramekins are filled take the lids you made earlier and place them atop the mixture. Most ramekins have a sunken inner lip, just a shot distance inside the dish - carefully press the dough lid down, atop the lid to create a seal. (Again, remember that they're hot - press the dough delicately)

Finally, use a paring knife to slice two slits in the top of each ramekin lid before returning the ramekins to the rimmed baking sheet and placing them in the oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the lid turns a golden brown color. Once the dough has reached the golden hue you're looking for, simply serve and enjoy!

The Results:

For a bunch of stuff just sitting in our fridge, this turned into one delectable dish. The rice, lemon juice and veggies all blended beautifully around the moist chicken and the pie crust worked wonderfully as a crispy, crunchy vessel to deliver all of the flavors. All in all, one tasty dish!

That's all we have for you this week. Maggie is fighting off the last grasps of a cold and won't be taking to the kitchen until he's healthy. We're back next week with more culinary adventures. Until then,


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