Yesterday we celebrated Pi Day with an American classic – Individual Chicken Pot Pies with Homemade Herb Crust! With what turned out to be a blustery slushstorm in our part of NJ, the house couldn’t have smelled better thanks to these can’t-wait-to-eat, have-all-to-yourself pies.
Pi Day Tidbits
Cooking is obviously full of numbers and ratios so why not take a moment to learn something before indulging in the recipe. (Feel free to scroll if this isn’t your gig!) Here are a few facts about 3.14 if you didn’t already know, or would like to sharpen up for your Trivial Pursuit night:
- The never-ending, irrational number out to 31 decimal places is 3.1415926535897932384626433832795 (someone should create a song to memorize this; certainly won’t be me)
- Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter (pretty straightforward)
- It’s not equal to the ratio of any two whole numbers, so an approximation is used in many calculations (22/7 in case you were wondering)
- Pi has been known for about 4,000 years, but it started to be called by the Greek letter only in the 1700s (As if that’s recent…)
- March 14th just so happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday (some things are just meant to be)
- See piday.org for more (for all my fellow math geeks, xo)
Now back to the pie at hand! This savory crust with dried thyme and sage stands on equal playing ground with the richly, flavored filling. Keys to an ultra-flaky crust is really cold cubed butter, ice cold water, and apple cider vinegar. The ACV hydrates the dough without activating too much gluten, letting the crust become light and flaky, rather than heavy and gummy. This is the pundits’ story, and I’m sticking to it. (Click here for more perfect-pie-crust tips.)
Take note, the butter will soften from the heat in your hands when cubing it. Put the cubed butter in the freezer for a few minutes while measuring other ingredients to get it really cold again. Add the butter in a few additions to create a coarse texture. You’ll get little flecks of butter throughout the dough that will expand when baking. Next, slowly pour the cold cider/water mixture described in the recipe in the processor as the machine is running. When the dough balls up to one side, you’re good.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface to form into two discs, and pop them in the fridge. Chill for at least 30 minutes. The dough can be made three days in advance, or frozen. Love that.
Making pot pie is not difficult, but has a few steps. Why not make life a bit easier by starting out with an already deliciously cooked rotisserie chicken?! Chop a few veggies and herbs, and you’re on your way to having a filling chock-full of awesomeness. Also, we’re about whole foods here, so skip the cream-of-whatever soup to create the gravy. We’ll make our own, and create a perfectly satisfying dish without the guilt (or bypass later).
When it comes to the crust in any pot pie you want the Goldilocks of scenarios: not overly thick and bready, not cracker thin, but just right. Meaning, enough flaky, tender crust for each bite of filling without feeling shortchanged, or burdened by heavy dough.
I found that thinly rolling the dough, laying it in the ramekin or pan, and folding the overhanging crust onto the filling does the trick. The picture above shows how the crust will look when rolled out, and set in the 5-inch ramekins or pie pans. All those flecks of thyme, sage, and butter are waiting to spring to life. Use all of the filling to mound in the pie shells. Fold the excess crust in a pleated fashion over the filling, as shown. Brush the crusts with beaten egg, and place pies in the oven. Enjoy the aroma that will take over your home.
Easy as pi. 🙂
If you’re looking for another savory pie recipe, check out our Classic Shepherd’s Pie with Lamb. Cheers!
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried sage
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 8 tablespoons ice cold water
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ cups onion, chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- ⅓ cup shallots, chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ⅓ cup flour
- 4 cups hot chicken stock, just below simmering
- 5-6 cups white and dark meat from 1 rotisserie chicken, in bite-size pieces
- 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 egg, slightly beaten to coat crusts
- 6 5- inch diameter ramekins or shallow oven-safe dishes, or 5-inch aluminum pans
Combine flour, dried thyme, dried sage, baking powder, and salt in food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the cubed butter in 4 additions. Mixture should have a coarse texture. In a small bowl, combine apple cider vinegar and cold water. With machine running, slowly pour in cold cider mixture until dough balls up to one side. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface. Halve the dough and form into two discs. Wrap each tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes prior to rolling out. (Dough can be made 3 days ahead of assembly. Keep chilled, or freeze up to 1 month.)
In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and shallots. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add wine, and reduce by half, about 3 minutes. Mix in flour, and stir for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in hot stock until completely incorporated. Let bubble and thicken for 7-10 minutes. Stir in chicken, peas and carrots, corn, and fresh herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Let cool while rolling out dough. (Filling can be made 1 day ahead of assembly. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease ramekins. On a floured surface, cut the rounds of dough into thirds. Roll each third into an 8- to 9-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick, and place onto ramekin or aluminum pan. Lightly press the dough into the sides and bottom of each pan. Let the excess crust hang over the edges. Generously pile filling into each ramekin/pan. Use all the filling. Fold excess crust over filling, leaving an exposed area of filling in the center for steam to escape. Brush crust with beaten egg. Place prepared pies on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake 45 – 50 minutes in preheated oven, until tops are golden brown and filling is bubbly. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
* Recipe was generously adapted from Guy Fieri