I am a big believer in the family dinner.
A friend recently asked me what sorts of traditions I’ve continued with my children that my parents started with me, and the first thing out of my mouth was, “Well, we make a point to eat dinner together every night.” Dinnertime is our time to unwind from the day, and reconnect as a family. I make it a priority for all of us to eat together, even though our schedules are busy, and I often feel like I’m driving a shuttle bus around after school. Eating dinner as a family was part of my childhood, and I am glad that I’m able to make it a consistent part of my children’s world as well. It’s our time to talk, to discuss, to laugh and to learn about each other and our days. In this busy, crazy whirlwind of activity lifestyle, it’s our time to settle in as a family.
These little pot pies are one of our favorite family meals to unwind with at the end of a busy day. Everyone enjoys them, so there’s no griping over dinner at the table. Plus, there’s something retro, cozy, wholesome, and truly Beaver Cleaver about them, isn’t there? It’s comfort food at its best, made easier with a few modern-day conveniences that I’m pretty sure Mrs. Cleaver wishes she could have taken advantage of.
First things first, I prep all of my ingredients and take my frozen puff pastry out of the freezer to thaw. The veggies can all be prepped way ahead of time, or the night before, if you’re short on time. You could cook up your own chicken, but I grabbed a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and used it instead.
Once everything is chopped up, it’s time to get going on the filling for my pot pies. In a large saucepan, I melt some butter, and then whisk in some flour, letting it cook for a minute until the flour mixture begins to smell a little bit nutty, and a lot less raw.
Then, I whisk in a quart of chicken broth, stirring all the while. As this comes to a boil and thickens up, it becomes the creamy base for my pot pie filling. Now, it’s time to liven things up a bit.
I add in my onion, carrots, and celery, along with some McCormick dried sage, thyme, and a bay leaf.
Those ingredients, right there, when brought together make for the most quintessential comfort food smell for me. It’s like Thanksgiving morning, it just fills the house with warmth. I just absolutely love it! If someone could figure out a way to potpourri that smell, that sage-thyme-butter smell, I’d be all over it.
After the herbs and veggies are stirred in, I let the mixture simmer for a few minutes to cook the vegetables a bit. After about five minutes, I add in my chopped rotisserie chicken, some small red potatoes that I’d cut into quarters, and some salt and pepper.
By this point, the filling is thick and creamy, and studded with so many delicious little morsels. It would be easy to just grab a bowlful and dive right in, right now.
But, we’re not quite done.
The base has one more step before it’s finished, and I have to admit, when I made these this time, I skipped that very important step…and my daughter promptly called me out on it as soon as she bit into the pot pie. I should have stirred a cup of frozen peas into the chicken base at this point. I completely forgot, so our pot pies that night were, sadly, pea-less.
However, while the base was cooling a bit, I got my pastry ready. You could make up your own pie crust here, but I love how simple frozen puff pastry makes this dish. Plus, it puffs up so beautifully, and adds the most delicate, buttery finish to the pies. I just love it. So, I rolled out my sheet of frozen pastry just a bit, until I was sure that I could fit my four large ramekins onto the piece, and then I sliced the sheet into four equal squares.
Now, it was time to assemble my pies.
I filled each of my ramekins almost up to the top with the chicken mixture, and set them on a cookie sheet. Then, I brushed a bit of water on the edge of each ramekin. After that, I brushed each piece of pastry with an egg wash and laid a piece of pastry on the top of each dish, egg wash side up, pressing down on the edges of the ramekin to help the pastry stick all around.
And then, it was time to pop them in the oven.
The little pies bake up for just about twenty minutes, just long enough to bring that pastry to life and puff it up, beautiful and golden brown.
These chicken pot pies are a family favorite, something we can all dive into together, as we talk about our adventures from the day. I hope that someday, my girls look back on our family dinners with fondness, as they remember good times and good, wholesome food that was prepared with love…even if Mom did use a few shortcuts!
Does your family have a favorite family meal? Do you have a story to tell? My friends at McCormick are kicking off a new campaign to celebrate the family dinner! Be sure to check out their American Homemade program, where you can find helpful tips and ideas to bring dinner to the family table by way of your own two hands, and not a fast food drive thru window. You’ll also be able to search for classic American recipes from each region of the country, as well as share your own personal American Homemade story with McCormick! While you’re there, be sure to check out McCormick’s new FlavorPrint tool. With this personalized search engine, you can answer a few quick questions, and then you’ll have access to recipes and ideas tailored specifically with you and your FlavorPrint in mind!
I’d love to hear about your favorite family meal in the comments, so go ahead and tell me about them. As you know, I’m always looking for a new dinner idea! 🙂
CHICKEN POT PIES WITH PUFF PASTRY
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp. McCormick brand dried thyme
- ½ tsp. McCormick brand dried sage
- 1 McCormick brand bay leaf
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped red-skinned potatoes, skins left on
- 2 cup chopped cooked chicken (I use rotisserie chicken)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to directions on the package
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water
- Preheat your oven to 400*F. Make sure the rack is in the middle of your oven.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk the mixture together for 2-3 minutes until flour cooks a bit and the mixture begins to smell nutty.
- Gradually whisk in the chicken broth, stirring constantly, until the mixture is nice and smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring all the while, and cook until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Add the onion, carrots, celery, thyme, sage, and bay leaf. Stir until combined, reduce the heat just a bit, and allow to simmer until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped chicken, and potatoes. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes more.
- Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the frozen peas. Allow the filling to rest for a few minutes while you prepare the pastry.
- On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry sheet until it's about 14-inches square. Place your four large (10 oz.) ramekins or oven safe bowls upside down on the pastry to make sure that it's large enough to allow for the crust and a little bit of overhang. Cut the sheet of pastry into four squares.
- Place the ramekins on a baking sheet. Fill each ramekin just about to the top with the chicken filling. Brush some water on the edge of each ramekin.
- Brush the pastry pieces with the egg wash, and place a piece of pastry over each ramekin, egg side up, pressing the dough onto the dampened edge to seal. (Filling may still bubble up a bit...that's why the baking sheet is there!) Allow the edges to hang over the sides.
- Bake, at 400*F, for 20 minutes, or until puff pastry is golden and puffed.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
This is a sponsored post, written by me for McCormick.