These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!
Hi friends! I know I don’t usually get very personal on this blog, but I was thinking of a story as I was making these delightful mini chicken pot pies, and I thought it was worth sharing. Seven years ago, I was a stay at home mom with a newborn and a four year old. I had graduated from a challenging nursing school program the year before, and I suddenly found myself at home alone all day with nothing to keep my brain stimulated. I had plenty of tasks to do, like changing diapers, washing dishes, nursing the baby, reading to the preschooler, etc., but at times I was starving for contact with adults and the outside world. To make things even more challenging, our finances were very tight at the time, so I didn’t have really any budget for luxuries or socializing.
Out of boredom and frustration (and thanks in part to the launch of Pinterest right at the same time) I just started making things. I relearned how to knit and started making baby hats and sweaters for my friends who were expecting. I learned how to cook all of the fancy foods that I couldn’t afford to buy at the store, like baguettes and ricotta cheese. I planted a garden and made homemade salsa and pesto from produce that I grew myself. I started hand lettering again (one of my favorite things to do in high school) and made art for my girls’ room. I repurposed old clothing into fun new outfits for the kids. I designed Harry Potter t-shirts for the premiere of the last movie. I rekindled my love of photography and took beautiful pictures of my kids (and started taking pictures of my food, which eventually led to this here blog!). I found so much joy in creating, in using my talents, and in finding ways to live a great life even on a shoestring budget.
I discovered instagram right around the same time, and I had so much fun posting all of my creations and projects and being able to share them with friends and family. Unexpectedly, though, the reaction I often got was, “You have WAY too much time on your hands,” usually said with a snide tone and an eye roll. It really stung, and it made me feel like all of the things I was doing were a waste of time. Objectively, I didn’t actually have all that much free time, between a newborn and a very challenging preschooler and a husband who worked 50-60 hour weeks. I was making the choice to spend the time I did have available making my life more beautiful and delicious, and the feedback I was getting was hurtful.
I was thinking about all of that in the context of these mini chicken pot pies, because this is totally one of those recipes that will make people say, “You have way too much time on your hands!” These babies take a long time to make! They’re made completely from scratch, from the pie crust to the filling. It’s somewhat tedious to roll out the pie crust and assemble the lattice, and it’s definitely more work to make six tiny pies than it is to make one normal size pie. If you’re looking for a dinner recipe that can be finished in 30 minutes or less, this is definitely not your dinner! And yet… they are totally delicious, and totally beautiful. Each mini pie is like a work of art. I worked on them on and off all afternoon (between attending my seven year old’s doll’s birthday party, and helping my eleven year old edit the book she’s writing), and I took my time and enjoyed every step of the process.
I think that with some time and perspective, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s okay to be that person who has “too much time on her hands.” It’s okay to be the one who designs custom labels for her daughter’s school supplies, or spends 30 minutes constructing a tiny birthday card for a doll’s birthday party. It’s okay to plan ahead for back to school pictures and not just take them as we’re rushing out the door in the morning. And just as important, it’s also okay NOT TO DO ANY OF THOSE THINGS. When I was working full time as a nurse and my husband was in nursing school and I was stretched so, so thin and exhausted all of the time, I didn’t have time for anything like that. And now I do! And neither of those situations make me a bad mom or make my life a waste of time.
I’m sharing these mini pot pies because I love them, and they’re completely delicious, and I think it’s fun to be able to make things completely from scratch, without using processed foods. And I just happened to have several hours yesterday afternoon with nothing super pressing to do, and thus had time to create something beautiful for dinner. However, you do you! If you’re looking for an equally delicious but much less time consuming pot pie recipe, this biscuit pot pie is quick and easy and always tastes delicious. (Just sub in a bag of frozen mixed vegetables for the uncooked vegetables, and it will be in the oven in no time!) I definitely think the world would be a better place if we could find more occasions to lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. So if you’re a from-scratch homemade pot pie person like me, more power to you! And if you’re a “pull the pot pie out of the box and microwave on high for 6 minutes” person, well, I’ve been there too (and it was delicious). I think we can all agree that no matter how much time you have on your hands, at least some of it should be spent eating pot pie. 🙂
Mini Chicken Pot PiesPrint Recipe
for the crust:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
for the filling:
- 2 small potatoes peeled and diced
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 pound chicken breast cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 cup frozen peas
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- To make the pie crust, in a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour and salt. Grate the cold butter into the flour mixture, and cut in using a pastry blender or the paddle attachment, until the pieces of butter are no larger than pea sized. Add the buttermilk, and mix until the dough just starts to come together. Turn out onto a floured surface and gently work into a ball, handling as little as possible. Divide the dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least twenty minutes, or until ready to use.
- Add the potatoes, carrots, and celery to a small pot, and add water to cover. Bring the water to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain and set aside. While the vegetables are cooking, heat one tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Add the second tablespoon of butter, then stir in the flour and cook until golden. Slowly add the chicken broth, followed by the milk, whisking constantly and adding a little at a time to form a smooth sauce. Stir in salt, pepper, and frozen peas and cook until heated through. Stir the cooked vegetables into the chicken mixture and let cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350. Roll out half of the pie crust into a large rectangle, then cut into six large circles using a bowl. Press each circle into the well of a jumbo muffin tin. Scoop the filling into each well of the muffin tin, filling to the top. Roll out the remaining pie crust into a large rectangle, and cut into thin strips. Weave the strips into a lattice (this is an excellent tutorial, if you haven’t done a lattice crust before). Press down on the lattice gently to stick the pieces to each other. Using a 4 inch cookie cutter, cut 6 circles out of the lattice. Place a lattice top on each mini pie, and fold or crimp the edges together. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Brush the egg mixture over the top of the crust, spreading evenly. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling and thick. Let cool before serving.