I’m going to sound like a broken record when I tell you that, as a kid, all I wanted in the world were terrible-for-you foods. Unfortunately, the only thing fun my mama was willing to buy us were frozen pot pies. I took what I could get! I loved the flakey crust and rich filling. The overly cooked peas and carrots…not so much.
These two lil’ baby pot pies are a way better version than the mediocre pot pies that I’d devour after school while watching The Power Rangers. Here’s what makes them fancy:
1. Schmaltz. Yassss!! This crust is special. Instead of butter (you can totally use butter if you don’t have schmaltz) I used schmaltz and it resulted in a really delicious, more crumb-like, very chicken-y crust. Oh man. I like it a lot!
2. Goat cheese. Here’s the thing, I’ve had a good amount of pot pies and for me I need a bit of bite to cut through all of the richness. Most chicken pot pie recipes call for heavy cream. I say skip it and go with something that gives the perfect amount of tang. Goat cheese does just that!
3. No overcooked peas and carrots. This is soooo simple yet every single pot pie I’ve had has gross-ass, dark green peas. WHY! It’s so easy. Just don’t cook the carrots that long. Don’t throw the peas in until right before you fill the pies. Easy-peasy! <—Do you see what I did there?!
And lastly, the assembly. I imagine you probably don’t have these lil’ Staub pots at home and that’s ok. I like my pot pies to have an inside crust too, many recipes just tell you to give it tops). Of course you can, but I found it easiest to just do a press situation on the bottom and up the sides of these containers for the pie crust. It as soooo much easier than trying to roll it out and fill it because since the pots are narrow, it makes it somewhat awkward. Not exactly like a pie tin.
But for the tops, I rolled out a sheet and cut circles that were about 1-inch bigger, all the way around, than the pots. This way I was able to tuck the crust under and give it a mini crimp all the way around.
If you want to make this situation, it’s actually a good recipe to prep the day before.
You can make the pie crust up to 3 days in advance.
You can make the filling up to 3 days in advance. And you can assemble right before. It’s a good make-ahead situation!
Happy Valentine’s Day…or whatever.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 tablespoons cold schmaltz
- 1/4 cup cold water
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the cold schmaltz and working quickly, and using your hands, break the fat into bits until they're evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas.
- Add the water and mix. The dough might seem a bit dry and shaggy but keep kneading it until it comes together. If needed add a tablespoon more of water. Flour your counter and dump the dough onto it. Knead a few times more until it comes together. Form into a disc. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight.
If you don't have schmaltz, no worries, you can use duck fat, which they sell at most grocery stores in the deli section.
If you can't find duck fat, no worries, you can totally just replace the schmaltz with cold, diced butter!
To render your own schmaltz, here's how to do it:
1. Take chicken fat (you can get some from your butcher) and place it in a baking dish. Transfer to a 350 degrees F oven and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the fat renders out and the leftover fat turns crispy. Remove the crispy bits and run the liquid fat through a sieve and into an airtight container. Transfer to the fridge until you're ready to use.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (3/4 pound chicken thighs)
3 tablespoons schmaltz or unsalted butter
1 small shallot, peeled and minced
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons goat cheese
2 tablespoons frozen peas
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken on a sheet of foil, set on a baking sheet, and transfer to the oven to roast for 15 minutes. Remove, shred and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium pot, set over medium heat, melt the schmaltz or butter. Next, add the shallot and carrot and cook until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the garlic, fresh thyme and flour; cook for an additional minute or so. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Bring the heat down to low and mix in the goat cheese. Give the sauce a try. It should be a little bland. Add salt to taste (I added about 1 teaspoon). Next, add some pepper. I added a generous amount, as I found that it brought out the chicken-y flavor. The filling should be the texture between a broth and gravy; thickened but not too too thick. Take it off the heat and stir in the frozen peas and reserved shredded chicken. The sauce can sit while you assemble the pot pies. (You should end up with about 1 1/2 cups filling.
Decide on your vessel. I used 1-cup baby cast iron pots. Get creative. You can use anything that's oven-proof; this means ceramic or glass mugs, bowls, ramekins, etc.
Remove the disc of dough from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 10 minutes. Liberally flour your work surface and rolling pin. We're going to start by making the tops. Begin to roll the dough, being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid sticking, to a 16-inch round. Place your (1 cup) vessel on top of the dough so you can get an idea of how big the circumference of the circle top should be. Being sure to leave about a 1-inch overhang, using a paring knife, cut out two circles. Recombine the scraps and press the dough onto the bottoms of your vessel and up the sides. I found this a million times easier than rolling it out and trying to fit in the narrow containers.
Divide the filling amongst the containers and place the dough tops on. Tuck the edges under all the way around. Create a crimp or make a decorative crust using the tines of a fork. Transfer to the pot pies to the freezer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the tops with egg wash and place them on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crusts are golden brown. If at any time, the crust begins to get too brown, you can tent the edges with a sheet of foil (I did this at the 20-minute mark). Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes (they'll be super hot!).