Date Night: Curried Chicken Pot Pie for Two

Monday, January 24, 2011

When I went to England (it seems now eons) a few years ago, one of favorite snacks were curry chicken "pasties" -- little pastry pockets filled with piping hot curry-spiced chunks of chicken, carrots, and peas sold on corners from carts. It was a welcomed warmth to hold and eat these tasty pockets on the cold, rainy spring days we were in London. I've since been making a version of these, combining the traditional American Chicken Pot Pie with the curry flavorings from my beloved pasties, and thus my Curried Chicken Pot Pie recipe was born. The crust is flaky and goes perfectly with the creamy curry-spiced gravy and tender pieces of chicken and sweet vegetables. I go heavier on the chicken and lighter on the peas because in all honesty, I'm not a huge fan of peas. But if you are, then add a full cup! I flavor mine simply with some garlic, bay leaf, and thyme to round out the savory flavors in order to balance out the sweeter curry. It's a perfect meal for a cold, rainy day.

In our house, we have In House Date Nights probably more often than we go out. This is one of my favorite meals to make just for The Hubsters and I, as we sit in front of the fire place, have a glass of red, and watch a movie. This recipe is for two larger portioned pot pies or can be split up into appetizer-sized mini individual sized ones if you'd like to serve it for your next dinner party. I use two 7-oz ramekins to make two individual pot pies. You can certainly pile it all into one larger ramekin as well for a larger pie to serve family style, but I do love the "individual" style because personally it reminds me of my own English pasty. I use my Grandmother's Corningware ramekins (link here) but you can use any oven-proof, ramekin style dish for this recipe.

Curried Chicken Pot Pies
1 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, chopped small
2 carrots, peeled and chopped small
1 stalk celery, ends trimmed and chopped small
1 Tbsp minced fresh garlic

2 chicken breasts, trimmed and washed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

3/4 cup frozen peas
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 small bay leaf
1 Tbsp curry powder (plus more to taste if desired)
1.5 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 portion basic pastry dough (recipe follows), chilled and ready to use

1 egg, lightly beaten + 1 Tbsp water = "egg wash"
course sea salt for garnish

Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the chicken cubes, frozen peas, thyme, bay leaf, curry powder, and mix to incorporate well. Add the chicken broth and using your wooden spoon, scrape up any "brown bits" that have formed on the bottom of the saute pan -- this is flavor and shouldn't go to waste! Bring the mixture up to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 10 minutes to cook the chicken through and let the flavors develop. You'll also notice the liquid is going to reduce a bit -- let it reduce by about half. If it reduces more then add more broth, or cover the pot with the lid if you see the liquid is evaporating too quickly. Give a taste and adjust with more salt, pepper, or curry powder to your liking. Take the mixture off the heat and add the parsley and cream (which will both flavor and thicken the "gravy"). Set filling aside.

To make the egg wash, simply lightly beat the egg and water in a small bowl. Set aside.

Remove your pastry from the fridge and cut it into two equal parts. Roll out each piece to a rough circle/oval shape that's large enough to cover the top of your baking dish you're using, and have 1-2 inches to hang over the sides. Spoon the chicken filling mixture into the baking ramekins, gravy and all. Top each ramekin with a piece of rolled out dough, and crimp the overhanging dough to the side of the ramekin. This is important because you want to create a "seal" of sorts to not let air escape so the filling won't evaporate. Press the dough onto itself over the sides if you have to to make it stick if it's not sticking to the ramekin.

Brush the tops of the pies with the egg wash -- this will give the pastry top a nice color when baking and give the salt something to stick to. Then sprinkle a tiny pinch of sea salt right on top. Place the pies on a baking sheet and bake in oven for about 40 minutes or until pastry is starting to get golden. Remove, let stand 5 minutes before serving, and enjoy!

Basic Pastry Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp ice water

Place the flour, butter, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Add the water a little at a time and process until the dough comes together into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. It is now ready to be rolled out and used.

No comments: