Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Meet Maryjo!

Thanks to my dad’s offshore jack-up oil rig building career, I got to travel a lot and live in some pretty great places at a very young age. No doubt the two times I was lucky enough to live in Japan lead to my love of rice and all things neatly compartmentalized. To this day, I get excited when I see a Bento box. Singapore introduced me to Thai, Malaysian, and Indonesian foods (among others.) The tiny little Southeast Asian island is a melting pot of so many different cultures that you can’t help but learn to embrace and appreciate all things different and unusual. Scotland introduced me to potatoes…every meal…every time. Yup, potatoes…oh, and fish & chips…and pies (sweet and savory.) Between every move overseas, we’d return to home base (Houston) where I learned to love Texas BBQ , gumbo, homemade ice cream, and all of the traditional comfort foods being made in homes in Southeast Texas.

I’m not 100% sure how or when I started cooking…probably in my teens. But like most cooks, my family, friends, travels and my hometown have certainly influenced what and how I cook. Like so many, I’m busy. I commute each day for a full-time job, I have two beautiful kids (one of each…I’m soooo blessed), and a loving English husband whose sense of humor is unmatched. I spend the “extra” time I have cooking yummy foods and trying like crazy to get vegetables to grow in my back yard. One of my family’s favorite dishes is my Chicken Pot Hand Pies. Born out of the need for something hot, homemade, and relatively fast, I worked to create my own hand pie version of that southern favorite, Chicken Pot Pie. I do other fillings too, but the Chicken Pot Pie filling is by far the favorite in my house. My guys love them…and they’re also great for a quick Saturday afternoon snack for my growing boy. I use cheap, but delicious boxed dry white wine in this recipe (we call boxed wine “Tip-it” in my house…cause that’s what you have to do when you get to the bottom of the box-o-wine…ya ”Tip-it”.) I typically prep and freeze these pies a batch or two at a time so that they’re a relatively quick, delicious weeknight dinner (with a salad, of course.) So here you go...Chicken Pot Hand Pies…enjoy!

Chicken Pot Hand Pies
by Maryjo  
Crust recipe adapted from the crust recipe for Potato Bacon Torte by Melissa d'Arabian

2 sticks cold butter, cubed
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 to 10 Tablespoons ice cold water

4 Tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (approximately ¾ cups)
1 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 1/2 cups diced russet potato (about one medium potato)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, stems removed and lightly chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, stems removed and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cooked and diced skinless chicken breast
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg
Sea salt
Thyme sprig tips (garnish)

For the crust:
Put the cold butter, flour, salt, and baking powder, into a food processor. Pulse to combine (about 15 pulses.) Add 1 Tablespoon of water at a time, pulsing 1 to 2 times to combine before adding the next Tablespoon of water. When the dough starts to clump together slightly (usually after 8 Tablespoons of water), stop. On a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a 8-inch long log and roll out until you have a sheet of dough about 8 inches x 8 inches. Lightly dust with flour and fold the dough into thirds, like you’re folding a letter to stuff into an envelope. Turn the dough 1/4 turn and roll it out again into an 8 inch x 8 inch square. Light dust again, fold the dough into thirds again, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can also place the dough in a zip top bag and freeze it to be use another time. Makes enough dough for 8 to 10 hand pies, so I usually make two pie crust recipes.

For the filling:
Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often to keep from browning. If it starts to brown, turn the heat down to medium. Add diced potatoes, stir, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Make a well in the middle of the vegetable mixture and add the crushed garlic. The garlic should be touching the bottom of the pot. Press the garlic down so that it starts to sizzle in the bottom of the pot. Cook for an additional 30 second, just until you can smell the garlic. Stir the garlic into the mixture and remove the vegetable mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in the pot over medium-high heat. Add flour to the melted butter and stir constantly, moving the mixture around the bottom of the pot, being careful not to burn. When the flour and butter mixture has turned a dark blond color, slowly add the chicken broth, stirring constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil. Continue stirring. The sauce will begin to thicken slightly. Add the wine and lemon juice. Stir. Add the thyme, rosemary, white pepper, and salt. Stir to combine. Add the vegetables back to the pot and bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the cooked chicken, frozen peas, and heavy cream off heat. Pour the filling onto a large rimmed baking sheet to cool. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until it’s very cold. Makes enough filling for about 16 hand pies.

Hand Pie assembly:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll the dough into an 8 inch x 8 inch sheet. Using a pizza wheel or knife, cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Beat the egg in a small bowl and set aside. Roll each square of dough into about a 5 inch by 7 inch rectangle. Brush egg wash onto the dough. Fill with 1/2 cup of the filling. Fold the shorter end of the dough over the topping to form a pocket. Trim the crust and crimp the three sides of the pocket using a fork. Brush egg over the top of the hand pie and cut vents into the top of the pie using a sharp knife. Sprinkle with sea salt and place a sprig of thyme on top. Place the pie on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet (I usually transfer the hand pies to the baking sheet using a spatula.) Bake at 375°F for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Note: You can assemble the pies, put them on a baking sheet, and freeze them. Once frozen, wrap them well in plastic wrap, put them in a zip top bag, and put them in the freezer. These little individual pies can be baked one at a time if you like. Just add about 10 minutes to the cook time if you're cooking them straight from the freezer.


  1. Nice job Maryjo! I may have to try this one.

    1. Well, I just replied to your comment. But seeing as I'm new at this here blogging thing...I messed it up. So my comment will follow shortly. Thanks for your support. This is going to be so GREAT! I hope you do try it. These are super yummy!

  2. Woot! Woot! I'm so happy you commented. You are officially my first comment. Yay. Thanks sooooo much!