Do you love chicken pot pie? I mean, do you LOVE it? Because I sure do! When I was growing up, my favorite dish was chicken vol-au-vent, which is basically the filling of a chicken pot pie in a puff pastry. Also, once a year, my mom and her best friend would make dozens of chicken pot pies that would be frozen and used throughout the year. I might have complained about lots of meals in my childhood but chicken pot pies would’ve never been an issue. Did I mention that I LOVE them?!? 😉
A few months ago, I posted the list of baked goods we made for our bake sale. One of the things I discovered and tried for the first time thanks to my awesome Costa Rican friend is empanadas. Are they delicious or what? After praising their tasty fillings, I quickly thought about the fact that the empanada crusts would be perfect for pocket-size pot pies as well! So I have had the idea in mind since then but, this week, I finally gave it a try. It was so easy to make and now, I have about 12 of them in the freezer (there would have been 24 but I ate A LOT of them in the past couple days…oops!).
I don’t know how different my pot pie filling recipe is from most American ones but I love my mom’s recipe and I plan to stick to it forever. The only things I have changed from her original recipe is that I use frozen peas and carrots instead of canned ones (less salt) and I make the Bechamel sauce (the creamy goodness) on the stove-top instead of her microwaveable version. The stove only seems easier to me as I can gauge the desired thickness of my sauce.
Here is my Maman‘s Bechamel sauce recipe:
Ingredients: (This is for a basic recipe but I usually double or triple it depending on what I’m making)
- 1 cup of milk
- 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon
- Whisk all the ingredients together in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, then let simmer. You can play with the heat (lower or higher) until you get an even and thick-enough sauce. I like mine on the thicker side but it’s all about personal preference (although for the pie pockets, I’d suggest thicker if you don’t want a runny mess).
- Whisk the sauce regularly while cooking it.
I added chopped rotisserie chicken (you could also use cooked chicken breasts but I wasn’t willing to spend that much time on it), and steamed some frozen peas and carrots. And the amount of each depends on your personal taste. I know my husband probably wishes I skipped the carrots but that just sounds wrong to me.
To make the pie pockets, I let the Bechamel mixture cool down a bit in the fridge first. Then, I put about a tablespoon or so of filling in each empanada crust (I got mine in the Hispanic frozen section of our grocery store but you could also make your own crust if you wanted to!). I closed them up with my fingers and baked them at 400˚F for 20 minutes or so. I just looked to make sure the crust was cooked enough and starting to turn golden.
The result was fantabulous. Although my initial goal was to freeze all 24 of them, I ended up eating *gasp* 5 or 6 of them the night I made them. I also had some for lunch yesterday and today. I can’t have enough of them pocket pies! I did finally put some in the freezer last night and I bet they will be the perfect meal when I’ll feel too tired to cook. They could probably be microwaved but I’m likely to bake them again, for extra crispy goodness.
(Photo: This is what my lunch looked like…twice this week. Can have some more??)
As if that wasn’t enough pot pie happiness for one week, I also had leftover filling so, last night, after a lunch of pie pockets, I made my favorite childhood dish. That’s right, I made vol-au-vent…with chicken pot pie filling. Why do I feel like I will end up on Intervention with my favorite people telling me they love me but asking me to stop eating pot pie filling? I admit it, I’m addicted and I am not ashamed of it! After all, it’s not like I eat this stuff every day, it’s more like a special treat. And I sure don’t want to wasted ANY of it!
(Photo: My childhood favorite: Chicken pot pie vol-au-vent…also happens to be my fourth pot pie filling meal of the week, oops!)
The best part about making the chicken pie pockets for the first time is that I can reproduce that goodness for our holiday party! I always get good comments about the pies but they’re never an easy thing to serve at a party. Last year, I tried making them in filo pastry and that turned into one nasty soggy mess. This year, the pie pockets are likely to be a crowd favorite!
(Photo: Oh yeah, the kitties were also addicted to the chicken filling…just don’t tell my husband! 😉 And to all the animal lovers out there, don’t worry, the plate was empty but our beloved Fattie was willing to lick any leftover flavor off the plate…she might have received a few bites of rotisserie chicken while I was cooking too but that’s a different story. As usual, she was such a good kitchen companion!)