Sunday, June 05, 2011

Savory Chicken Pocket Pies...

I can't believe how fast time seems to by slipping through my fingers this spring! Between the new pup, the garden outside and all the other daily happenings around here, I'm ready to hit the sack long before I used to. While I'm still making plenty of new recipes, I'm finding myself less and less inclined to set aside time for pictures and whatnot - there are just too many other things I need to be doing! I did make an exception for these swanky Savory Chicken Pocket Pies we made recently though.

You'll want to prepare the dough for these hand pies ahead of time if you can as it needs to rest in the ice box - a couple hours would be ideal, but you could get away with as little as thirty minutes. The dough definitely isn't your ordinary pastry - butter is cut with tangy cream cheese, and both are used with a softened consistency rather than right-out-of-the-fridge cold. Instead of freezing cold water as the liquid to bring the dough into a cohesive mixture, you'll be mixing in a few tablespoons of heavy cream.

While adding richness, the cream plus the cream cheese will make for a forgiving crust to work with - meaning, a snap to roll out, while still having a tender and flaky quality. Great for beginners to the world of pastry dough!

A cup of shredded chicken is needed for the filling, taken from cooked chicken you've either made yourself or a snazzy rotisserie bird from the market, which is mixed into a light sauce filled with softened vegetables and seasoned with a fresh grating of salty Parmesan cheese. You can't work with this mixture right out of the skillet because it will warm your pastry and make it a mess to work with. However, if you've already made the pastry dough and are ready to move on with assembly, you can speed up this process by moving it into a bowl and setting it in the refrigerator.

With the dough rolled out, we used one of our bowls that we usually fill with snacks to cut out the circles needed for the pies - use a bowl that is about five inches across on top. Don't have a bowl that size? Use a knife and go to town with free-formed rounds! A scoop of the cooled filling, which was done by either leaving it at room temperature or hurried in the refrigerator (we opted for the latter), is dropped slightly off-center on top of each circle. Enclosed by folding the naked side of the dough over the filling, the half-moons are sealed shut with the tines of a fork.

With all this manhandling, the pies will need a quick chill once more to firm up the fat in the dough, giving them the best texture after being baked. Just before they go into the oven, we did brush each down with a light egg wash to reinforce a golden brown crust on the outside.

If you have extra time one day, you could definitely assemble these ahead of time when you need a dinner-in-a-flash kind of night later in the week. Prepare them up to the point where they are sealed shut, then, instead of chilling them, arrange the pies in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and stick them in the freezer until they are firm. After the stint in the freezer, slide the savory pastries right into a ziploc-type bag for longer storage - you will bake them straight from the freezer, after brushing them with an egg wash, adding just a few extra minutes to the total time in the oven.

We did have leftover dough after all was said and done, but rather than toss it in the trash, we sliced the remainder into scraggly strips, showered them with vanilla sugar and baked them into sweet, pie crust-like cookie treats!



  1. joe, love reading your blog - food and pic's are great - take the time to take those pictures - besides the CL BB - your blog is the first I go to for new recipes.

  2. Great blog and this chicken pocket pies look great! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    Feel free to check out my blog:

  3. Anon - I appreciate the support!

  4. Hello Joe,

    Nice recipe! I haven't made a free-standing savory pie before. We have a dish which we call Chicken Pastel in our country - but that basically involves a creamy chicken filling, quite similar to your recipe, and topped with a crust. It's more forgiving since even if the filling underneath is liquid-y, it won't be a disaster since the dish will still cook through and the crust will still brown.

    My only concern is that if I make this, I might get filling oozing out of the crust onto the baking pan.

    There seems to be a fair amount of solids-to-liquid ratio in your filling - but inasmuch as I am an incompetent cook, I'd like to do this by the numbers.

    When you put in the filling, do you still get a fair amount of runny sauce? or is the mixture relatively dry, as it cooks?

    Thanks, Joe - you really put a lot of work in your blog, and I get a lot of ideas from you!


  5. Ron - The filling is somewhere in between. Not dry, yet not running-all-over-the-place. Just moist.