These little savory pies, whether from a muffin tin or mason jar, are the epitome of comfort. Warm, gooey filling in a tender, whole wheat crust, they taste like chicken soup and crackers, which we all know cures the common cold, the blues and all the ills of being human. They’re the down blanket of fall meals. This particular muffin tin chicken pot pie recipe makes enough for 18 single servings (or 8 mason jar pies), which means plenty left in our house for everyone to take some to work the next day. Pop them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and you’ve got a little bit of home wherever you go.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (f)/ 200 degrees (c). If you’re making muffin tin pies, spray a 12 tin pan (4″ tins) with olive oil non-stick or canola oil non stick spray. Make sure to lightly spray the top of the pan as well. It helps to keep the crust from sticking to the top of the pan. Yields: 8 mason jar pies or 18 muffin tin pies. Time: 20 minutes prep and 20-40 total cook time, depending on whether you choose muffin tin or mason jar chicken pot pie.
Soundtrack: Sam and I were working together on this but she was kind enough to tolerate my choice of kitchen music for this project. I figured it fair to span as many generations as possible, so we listened The Beatles’-Abbey Road album.
Whole Wheat Pie Crust:
2 Cup whole wheat flour (we use Bob’s Red Mill pastry whole wheat)
1 Cup Organic All-Purpose flour
4 tsp organic granulated sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 Cup (2 sticks) cold, organic, unsalted butter-cut into 10(-ish) pieces
5-8 Tbsp cold, organic 1%milk (whole, 1%, 2%..all acceptable)
Chicken Pot Pie Filling:
1 1/2 Pounds organic, skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium sized organic carrot, diced
1 organic celery stalk, sliced thin
3 Tbsp organic, unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
4 Cups low-sodium, organic chicken broth
1/2 Cup low-fat, organic sour cream
1/4 Cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Cup organic frozen peas, corn or a combination of both
1 organic, free-range egg, lightly beaten or 4-6 Tbsp. milk (to baste over pie crust tops)
Whisk the flours, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Both the wheat flour and the salt can be too large for your sifter…a whisk is just as good. Add the butter pieces at once. DO NOT start mixing with your fingers. I found this to be a contributor to some of my crust failures-it warms the butter and weakens the protein structure that creates the dough.
Instead, take a pastry blender and start cutting into the butter and flour, moving it to the side of the bowl as you work. When you have a consistency of pea sized flour, add the cold milk 1 Tbsp at a time and continue to cut in, being sure to get all the ingredients involved by working to the side of your bowl. Check the dough between each addition of cold milk. When you can pinch a small amount from a little ball to a flat dough without a lot of breaking up, you’re there. I ‘ve yet to use less than 5 Tbsp or more than 6 Tbsp so I recommend you do a check at both. If you’re not going to roll it into a crust immediately, form it into a ball (or two), place it in a plastic ziplock bag or plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready.
Chicken Pot Pie Filling:
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear all sides of the chicken to a light brown color (3-4 minutes per side). It’s important that each chicken piece is seared over the entire surface with no pink/uncooked parts showing through. Remove the chicken from the skillet to a plate and lower the heat to medium. Add the carrots, celery and onion to the skillet and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the chicken back into the skillet and pour in enough broth to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes before removing from the heat. In a separate, pan/skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter, adding the 1 Tbsp. of flour once completely melted. Stirring constantly, cook the flour and butter mixture for about 5 minutes, then add in 1 Cup of the broth from the other skillet (once its cooked for 25 minutes as instructed). Mix thoroughly and continue to heat over medium until the mixture thickens slightly. Add the sour cream, peas, corn and parsley, remove the skillet from the heat and mix throughly again. From the other skillet, remove the chicken and set on a clean plate. Pour the broth and cream mixture from its skillet to the broth and vegetable mixture in the other skillet and mix thoroughly. With a sharp knife, cut the chicken into small pieces, then return to the skillet and mix everything together thoroughly one more time.
For mason jar pies, line each jar with a palm sized ball of dough, then press the dough up the sides to form a 1/8″ inch crust. Stop the crust about 1/4″ from the top to leave room for the top crust. Set aside the lined jars. Using a jar as a template or a 4″ biscuit cutter, cut 8 round pie crust tops (1/8″ thick) and just slightly larger than the jar. You want enough left to pinch the bottom and top crusts together. Set the pie crust tops aside on a very lightly floured sheet of parchment paper.
For muffin tin pies, line each tin with a golf ball sized piece of dough and press into the bottom and up the sides until you have a 1/8″ crust the hangs just slightly over the top of each tin. These do not require a top crust but you can add one if you like. We do a combination of both (with a top crust and without a top crust) to accomodate different tastes at the table. If you add a top crust, simply roll out a smaller than palm-sized piece of dough to a circle, slightly larger than the muffin tin, then pinch the top to the outer edge of the bottom crust, baste in either egg or milk and cut a vent in the top crust. Set aside.
To bake in a muffin tin, fill the lined tins with the filling to about 3/4 full and bake (at 400 degrees (f)/200 degrees (c)) for 20 minutes or until the crust is slightly browned and the filling is just starting to bubble. Remove (still in the tin) to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Be careful to remove them gently, using a straight knife to loosen any of the crust that might have baked to the top of the tin.
To bake in a small mason jar, fill the jar to about 3/4 full, place the top crust over the filling and pinch the bottom crust to the top crust and baste with either egg or milk. Cut a few small slits in the top crust of each pie to vent. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top crust is firm and slightly browned and the filling is just starting to bubble. Remove the jars to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before serving right from the jar.