I know I’ve mentioned this before but I love fall. The crisp cool air, the warm sun, leaves changing and here in Denver we’ve already had our first snow. And of course because it is cooling down, I start cooking more.
Cooking or baking is a great way to warm up the kitchen on one of the cooler days. It’s also time to play with the fall fruits and veggies. Pumpkin, winter squash, apples, sweet potatoes, cranberries and so much more. The beautiful kale is sweeter now because it’s had the first frost on it.
After a fun shopping trip at the Longmont Farmer’s Market the other weekend, I had plenty of fresh butternut squash to play with. There was also fresh kale and leeks in the fridge as well. It was cold outside after a night of snow, so I decided to make up an Autumn Chicken Pot Pie. Why not switch it up? Who says that pot pies must be filled with potatoes, peas and carrots? With food and cooking there are no rules except to eat what you like!
I used the base from my normal Chicken Pot Pie recipe and just substituted in the new veggies and seasonings. I also added a bit of heat with red chili flakes. The results were a wonderful chicken pot pie filled with chunks of butternut squash, kale, fresh rosemary and thyme, all together with chunks of chicken breast. The one change that I might make the next time is to use dark meat turkey instead of the chicken because I think it will offer up more flavors to stand up to the strong flavors of the veggies.
My hubby and our slightly picky neighbor who lives down the hall, both loved them. They were warm, had a nice flaky crust on top and just full of fall flavor. While there are a few steps involved in making them, they are so worth the effort when you get the satisfied smiles at the end of the meal. These are definitely on the menu again sometime soon. Maybe about the time to use up leftover turkey!
Autumn Chicken Pot Pies
5 Tbsp. olive oil
2 small leeks, sliced and cleaned
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup flour
3 cups of chicken stock
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. red chili flakes (or add based on your tastes)
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, striped from the stems
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 large bunch of kale, balanced for 2 minutes (made about 1 cup of blanched kale)
1 small butternut squash (about 2 lbs.), peeled, cubed into 1/2″ cubes, and roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper)
2 cups pre-cooked chicken breast, shredded or cubed (I did mine in some olive oil, seasoned with paprika, garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 to 5 Tbsp. cold water
2 egg yolks, beaten (egg wash)
Make crust before you start the potpie filling.
Place the flour in a mixing bowl and add olive oil. Mix the olive oil to the flour until the mix resembles small crumbs. Add the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together well. Do not over mix or you will toughen the crust. Work into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to rest while you make your filling.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook until they start to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and red chili flakes and cook until fragrant. Add flour, white pepper, paprika, salt and pepper to the pan. Mix well and cook for about 2 minutes. Don’t skip this step or your pot pies will taste like flour. You have to cook it to get rid of the floury taste.
After cooking the flour mix, slowly add the chicken stock, stirring to remove any lumps. Continue cooking until gravy has thickened to your desired thickness. Remember if you over thicken, you can always add a little more chicken stock or water to thin again. The gravy will thicken more as it cooks in the oven, so leave it a little thinner than you want for the finished product.
Once the gravy is done, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the fresh rosemary, thyme, kale, butternut squash and chicken. It’s time to make your pot pies.
Preheat oven to 375
Roll out your dough onto a lightly floured surface. The thickness is up to you, I like a thinner crust because it gets crunchy and crispy.
Lightly grease 6 large ramekins or a large baking dish and pour the potpie filling in.
Cover your dishes with the crust, sealing the edges well and don’t forget to cut a slit or two into the top to allow steam to release. Brush the tops with the egg wash.
Place into the oven and cook until bubbly and golden brown on top, about 20 minutes. Allow to rest at least 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 6 servings.
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