Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Leftover Tuesday: Chicken Pot Mini's

I wasn't sure what I was going to make today. I had this lovely little chicken carcass. Okay it's not exactly lovely to the untrained eye, but you see, chicken carcass is to leftover-loving-home-cook what blank canvas is to artist. Namely a world of possibility.

And then my sister-in-law emailed me about a typo in my original pot pie recipe and then I looked at the 2 pot pie recipes on this site. And then I remembered I had just a bit of frozen dough in the freezer.

And then I knew what I was making for dinner. (Incidentally, if making pie crusts really really isn't your thing yet, you could use refrigerated dough for biscuits or croissants to good effect.)

We also had some leftover crock pot vegetables and leftover broth.

We had an itty bit (1/2 C or so) of rice that had to be thrown out. We had cauliflower that was looking a little dodgy and cilantro that definitely needed some attention.

We had open bags of green onions, spinach, carrots, and potatoes, which I didn't end up using because I was short on time (as it was I ended up eating (while Kip drove) my pot pie in the car--way better than a Big Mac) and thus couldn't add more chopping time to my evening. A few more veggies would have been nice because more veggies are always a good thing, but now they're there for another time.

These pot pies were completely awesome. And using leftovers to assemble them made them a quick meal to put together instead of the somewhat fussy production that pot pie sometimes is.

Here's what I did for 4 mini pot pies:

1. First I pulled off the good chicken off the carcass--there was a surprising amount--probably about 1 1/2 C shredded chicken.
2. Then I melted 2 Tbsp butter.
3. While it was melting, I chopped the dodgy parts off my cauliflower and then chopped it super small (so as to hide its presence--Kip doesn't love cauliflower). I threw it in with the butter to saute.

3. As it sauteed, I chopped up the leftover roast vegetables.
4. Once the cauliflower was tender (which only takes about 3-4 minutes when it's that small), I added 4 Tbsp flour to the mix, which made this very thick and gloppy and scary looking. I also added about 1/2 tsp dried tarragon. I was going to add the cilantro, but wimped out. Kip doesn't really like cilantro, and even I wasn't sure how well it would pair with chicken in a pot pie. (I ended up taking it's good leaves off and freezing them; cilantro freezes quite well.) Tarragon goes really well with chicken, especially creamy chicken.
5. Add 3/4-1 C chicken broth. My broth was homemade and on the sweet side since it was mixed with some white grape juice from Sunday's roast chicken. I added salt and pepper here as well. This thickened up quickly and then I added 2 Tbsp cream and 2 Tbsp milk (4 Tbsp half and half would have worked great).
(Sorry for the imperfect pictures. I was losing light fast.)
6. I put it in the ramekins.
7. I topped it (and yes, I only topped it--these had no crusts on bottom) with the a tiny ramekin sized crust (which is so crazy much easier to work with that I might have found a new way to make my pies in the future) and gave it a few small air vents. Voila.
8. I baked at 375 for about 15 minutes and then upped the temp to 400 because that's what professionals do. Ha ha, just a little joke there. I upped it to 400 because Kip and I were going on a date and I had to leave in, like, 10 minutes, so I cheated and things worked out fine, which just goes to show that cheaters totally win. But only on leftover night, okay.

The result: These were excellent--just really really good. My only complaint about them is that with the slightly sweet broth and the tarragon (which is a mild herb that has an almost sweetness to it), the pot pie could have used some kind of kick to it as a counterpoint. I'm not quite sure what it needed--maybe a dash of cayenne or some white pepper or some chopped peppers or something. Nevertheless some of the best leftovers ever and I can't wait to eat another one of these babies tomorrow.

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