Many of us grew up eating the pot pies that you can find in your grocery store’s freezer section, but making your own pot pie is certainly worth the extra effort. As with any food, making it yourself is usually healthier and tastes better. We had a delicious chicken pot pie when we were in Strasbourg and it was rustic and simple. Obviously you can make pot pies with turkey or beef as well, but chicken works out really well. It is a perfect way to use leftovers this holiday season in a way that doesn’t really feel like a leftover. We happen to have a mini-pie maker, which helps, but you don’t have to have one in order to make your own pot pies. You can buy premade pie crusts that are personal size in tin trays and just top with store-bought pie crust. The key to a really good pot pie is the stock that you use, so making a homemade stock is certainly worth the effort. Chicken pot pies are a perfect dinner for a cold winter evening.
2 cups Chicken Stock
4 tbsp Unsalted Butter
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
1 Egg – egg white only
1/2 cup Carrot – diced
1/2 cup Onion – diced
1/2 cup Celery – diced
1/2 cup Frozen Corn – off of the cob (or peas)
1 cup Russet Potatoes – parboiled and diced
1 cup Cooked Chicken – diced
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Dried Rosemary
2 sheets Pie Crust (store-bought) – one package
Salt and Pepper to taste
Be sure to cut the celery, carrots, and onion into equal sized pieces. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter along with the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the celery and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes and then finally add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Remove the vegetables from the pot, leaving any drippings. Add the remaining butter and heat until melted. Add the flour and whisk until it is slightly brown and nutty, do not over cook. Heat the stock in a microwave until hot and then add the stock to the roux, making sure to whisk frequently as pouring it into the pot. Add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper, and continue to heat until it reaches a slight boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, corn, and chicken and cook until heated thoroughly and the stock has thickened. Spoon the mixture into the bottom sheet of pie crust (if using store bought pie pans, prick with a fork and partially cook in an oven before adding the mixture). The mixture should be about a quarter of an inch from the top of the crust. Cut the pie crust to fit the top of the pie and place over the mixture being sure to crimp the edges together with a fork or with your fingers. Brush with egg white and cook in the pie maker (or in the oven) for the directed amount of time, 12 to 15 minutes in our case. Let them rest a few minutes before serving.
We don’t usually eat sweets or desserts, but occasionally we do indulge in something a little decadent. During our time in Europe, we did allow ourselves to have a few special treats. Obviously, we couldn’t leave Germany without having apple strudel, but we also love a good cheesecake, so that is often our go-to dessert when we do decide to have something sweet.
Even though we may not have dessert very often, one thing we learned was that European’s definitely make wonderful cakes, pies, and other sweets. We would have loved to try even more of the incredible sweets that we saw, but we were too often full from the heavy meals of the season. We will just have to schedule a return trip so that we can try even more specialties.
Perhaps in the future, we will skip the main meal so that we can concentrate on the various pastries, cakes, custards, and pies. Until then, we will just have to look back fondly at what we were able to enjoy.
We were thinking about what to do for dessert on Thanksgiving and we decided to go with apple pie instead of doing our traditional pumpkin cheesecake (which is also delicious). We try to make the holidays, or anytime we entertain, as relaxing as possible, so we try to prep as much ahead of time as possible. We also like the idea of individual portions, so the miniature pies worked out perfectly. We didn’t make the pies in advance, though, so we were left trying to figure how to make the pies without having to do a bunch of last-minute prepping. It was our daughter who came up with the ideal solution. We cooked the filling in a slow cooker, allowing us to focus on dinner while the apples simmered away during the day. It turned out perfect. The original pie recipe was from one of our mothers, the miniature pie maker was a gift from our other mother, and our daughter came up with the idea to slow cook the filling, truly a family affair. Not only did it turn out to be easy to make, but it was truly delicious. Although we made miniature pies, the same recipe will work for a regular pie, you would just double the recipe and bake the filling inside of the pie crust instead of making it ahead of time.
4 Granny Smith Apples – cored, peeled, and diced
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Fresh Grated Nutmeg
1 tbsp Flour
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Unsalted Butter
2 sheets Pie Crust – pre-made or you can make your own
Dash of Salt
Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray and turn on to low. Core, peel, and dice the apples and add to the slow cooker. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, sugar, butter, and salt. Stir the apples until they are well coated. Cover and simmer on low in the slow cooker for about 6 hours, stirring occasionally, until the filling is juicy and the apples are tender. Turn off the slow cooker and let the filling cool to room temperature. Following the instructions for the miniature pie maker, place the bottom crusts into the pie maker, add the filling, place the top crust over the filling and cook for 8 to 12 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Makes 4 miniature pies.