Leftover braised chicken, along with carrots, peas, corn kernels, diced red & green pepper, baby green limas, and mushrooms: sounds like a hot mess, doesn’t it? Fortunately, a mish-mash like the aforementioned refrigerator contents can be redeemed by good pastry. Throw all those things into a 1.5 quart round cast iron braiser and top with a buttery tart dough, and in 30 to 40 minutes, you’ve got pie.
Truly, I’m no fan of chicken potpies, but my better half was raised on Swanson’s. (Yes, it’s a character flaw, but he does laundry and he irons, so I’m willing to overlook the frozen dinners in his past.) He thought he’d impress me by upgrading to Whole Foods’ pre-fab chicken pies, except I pointed out that $7 for a two-serving pie containing exactly three shreds of poultry seemed more than a bit steep. Thus, homemade chicken pot pies were inevitably on the horizon. He agreed to make a food-processor tart crust if I prepared the filling. Little did he know, the filling is the easy part….chop up leftover Italian-style braised chicken (pollo in padella), add leftover vegetables, thicken as desired with a bit of heavy cream, and season to taste with chopped tarragon, rosemary, and pepper.
As it turned out, he proved quite handy with the food processor, buzzing together 1-1/2 cups flour, 1/8 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Then he added 10 T butter, cut into small chunks, and pulsed a bit more to achieve a cornmealy texture. Next, he sprinkled on 4 T ice cold water, continuing to pulse the processor until a shaggy dough combined. The dough rested, refrigerated, for an hour to chill. Once firm, I rolled out a round crust and topped the dish, adding a few decorative pastry-scrap flourishes and cutting a few steam vents.
The crust-topped pie can be refrigerated as long as a day prior to cooking. Bake it for at least 30 minutes at 350, to brown the crust and ensure that the filling is hot and bubbling.
So, I’m still not a potpie convert, but it was a handy way to clean out the refrigerator. Next time, I might use a vegetable puree to thicken the filling, and the pastry would improve with a dose of black pepper and finely grated parmesan….