Chicken Pot Pie and Valentine’s Day

So, it’s almost Valentine’s day, and this girl’s favorite person in the whole wide world doesn’t like sweets!  And not just any sweets…he doesn’t like chocolate!  Chocolate!! Who doesn’t like chocolate?!?!?! (he does humor me by eating my sugar cookies from time to time ?)

He’s always been one to pass on dessert if that means he can have seconds or thirds of the main meal.  So, I’ve been wracking my brain (Winnie the Pooh style) for ideas of something that I could cook for him on this special “I Love You” day.  And then, it hit me: Chicken Pot Pie!  It’s one of his favorite dishes!

To make it Valentinesy, I decided to go with hand-raised pies in the shape of hearts.  Much easier said than done…in retrospect, a heart-shaped form would have been SO. MUCH. SIMPLER.

I used a hot-water crust pastry inspired by Paul Hollywood (shout out to The Great British Baking Show) for these raised pies.  Unfortunately, they aren’t going to go winning any awards for keeping their perfect form, but they did turn out pretty cute, they taste delicious, AND they don’t have soggy bottoms!

Making these will a special treat for ONCE year, I’ll just say that.  To say that they are time consuming is an understatement, BUT, if you have the time and motivation, I do recommend it.  It’s a nice, little touch of “special” for your dinner table.

If you want to add a little pizzazz to your Valentine’s Day Pot Pie, but want some less complicated ideas, you could try little, miniature, round pies or even go big with a family-style pie, complete with cute heart cut-outs.

Whatever you decide to go with, just remember to have fun with it, don’t expect it to turn out perfectly (especially if you’re brave enough to do the raised pies), and remember that it’s the thought that counts.


Chicken Pot Pie

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Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 3 medium Carrots, diced
  • 2 medium Potatoes, cubed
  • 1 large yellow Onion, diced
  • 2 large Garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 cup Peas
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch (added to ¼ cup of cold water)
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 2 Chicken Breasts, diced and cooked.
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry Thyme (1 Tablespoon freshly minced thyme)
  • 2 teaspoons dried Parsley (1/4 cup freshly minced)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Directions:

Bring the chicken broth to a simmer.  Add the chopped carrots and cook them for about 20 minutes.  Add the potatoes, and cook the mixture for an additional 10 minutes.

While the carrots and potatoes are cooking, prepare the onion, garlic, and chicken.  Heat a frying pan and add 1 Tablespoon of butter. Once the butter has melted, add the diced chicken.  Cook it until it is lightly browned.  After the potatoes have been cooking for 10 minutes, add the onions, garlic, peas, browned chicken, and spices.

In a small bowl, add 3 Tablespoons of corn starch to ¼ cup of cold water.  Mix it with a fork.  When the corn starch has dissolved, pour the mixture slowly into the filling.  Stir it well so that no lumps form.  Bring the filling to a boil.  The corn starch should help to thicken it (use more or less corn starch depending on your preference for the thickness of the gravy).  I like to cook it on low heat for another 5-10 minutes or so.

Pastry:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Lard (150 grams Lard)
  • 3/4 cup +1.5 Tablespoon Water (200 mls Water)
  • 3 cups all-purpose Flour (450 grams)
  • 3/4 cup Bread Flour (100 grams)
  • 5 Tablespoon Butter, softened (75 grams Butter)
  • 1 tsp salt (note: Paul Hollywood does not put salt in his)
  • 1 Egg + 1 Tablespoon water for the egg wash

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit.

After the filling has finished cooking, put a medium saucepan on the stove with the lard and water.  Heat the water until the lard has melted and the mixture starts to simmer.

Meanwhile, mix together the two types of flour, salt, and butter.  Once the butter is mixed evenly throughout the flour, poor the hot water mixture into it.

Use a spoon for the initial mixing because it is very hot from the water/lard combo.  Once it has cooled enough to touch, tip the dough out onto the counter and knead it for a couple minutes, until it is smooth.

Roll out the dough to fit whatever container you are using (*you don’t need flour when you’re rolling it out due to the high fat content). If you are doing the heart-shaped pies, I recommend using a large heart-shaped cookie cutter to help get the correct shape.

Once you have your shape, add the filling. Roll out the lid and make sure to cut out a steam hole BEFORE you put the lid on the pie. It is much easier than trying to cut it out after you’ve placed the lid (I definitely learned this the hard way).

Crimp the edges well, and cut any excess pastry away (I used sharp kitchen scissors to trim the raised pies).

For the egg wash, beat the egg with 1 Tablespoon of water. Use a brush to spread the egg evenly over the pie. You can do this at the beginning of the bake, but I would recommend putting it on half-way through the bake so that it doesn’t get too dark.

Bake at 350 Degrees Fahrenheit for 45-60 minutes, depending on what pie size you made. My small hand-raised pies and miniature round pies took about 45 minutes; the large family-sized pies took about 60 minutes.

Let the pie cool for 30 minutes before serving. We like it best with Green Tomato Chutney (check back in a few months for the recipe when we have produce from our garden-it complements chicken pot pie so, so well!).

Additional Hint: Because making the hand-raised pies can take some time, the pastry will start to cool and become too tough to manipulate. You can microwave it for 10-15 seconds to re-soften the lard so that it is easy to work with again.