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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chicken & Sweet Potato "Hand Pies"

Sometimes leftovers can be transcendent.  Even better than the original meal!  These chicken turnovers or hand pies fall into that category. 

The recipe comes from Martha Stewart, slightly adapted. She calls them hand pies, a term that makes me giggle. But whatever you call them, it is an amazing use for leftover chicken. You've gotta try these.  

I was looking for a use for the leftovers from all the roasted chicken I made.  I was thinking of making a pot pie but I don't really have suitable-sized ramekins for individual pot pies. Last time they were way too big.  So I was toying with the idea of making a pot pie filling but using puff pastry to make a turnover, and that's when I stumbled upon Martha's recipe with a totally different flavour profile than pot pie and even more delicious.  Here's what you need:

  • leftover cooked chicken
  • leftover gravy (optional but highly recommended)
  • sweet potatoes (ideally leftover, cooked, cold but you can cook them for the recipe)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp each cumin and ground coriander, divided 
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, not pictured, divided)

First, I'll fill you in on my error.  I didn't have leftover cooked sweet potatoes the recipe calls for, so I figured I could cook some quickly in the microwave and mash them.  It's totally ok to do this, but you need lots of time for the sweet potatoes to cool.  It didn't occur to me until I was putting hot sweet potatoes onto cold puff pastry that I'd made an error.  The puff pastry thrives on being kept cold until it goes into the oven, so putting the hot potatoes on it melted the butter and made it less flaky that it would normally be.  It still turned out delicious, but next time I'd make sure all my ingredients are cold before starting.  

So anyway, if you don't have leftovers, peel your sweet potatoes (about a pound) and add them with a little water to a microwave-safe bowl.  Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and microwave on high for about 6 minutes.  Toss them around and microwave for 6 minutes more until tender.  

To 1/2 cup cream or milk, add 1/4 tsp cayenne, coriander and cumin.  

Add the cream mixture to the sweet potatoes and sprinkle with salt.

Mash the sweet potatoes.  They don't have to be too fine, just mixed together.  Then LET THEM COOL!

Meanwhile, dice 2 cups cooked leftover chicken.

Add in about 1/2 a cup of leftover gravy. This is optional but I found it gave the pies an amazing flavour.

Season with another 1/4 teaspoon each of cumin and coriander and a little more cayenne if you like it spicy. 

Mix the gravy in with the chicken.  It doesn't look tasty but it will be, believe me!

Now it's time to roll out your puff pastry.  Sprinkle a little flour on your work surface.

Martha asks you to roll it out to a 12-inch square. I am terrible at guesstimating lengths so I used a measuring tape.  It started out at 10-inches square.

I got it a little too thin but if you can get it to 12-inches square, that's the perfect thickness.

Then use a sharp knife (or pizza cutter) to cut it into quarters.

Crack your egg into a small bowl and beat lightly.  This will seal the edges and create a golden crust.

Now, spread your cooled sweet potatoes over half of the puff pastry square.

Repeat for all four squares.  You'll want to spread it out over the whole half, unlike what I show here. That way you'll have filling in the corners too.

Then top each with 1/4 of the chicken gravy mixture.

Brush a little egg wash around the edges of the pastry.

Now fold the puff pastry into a triangle.  I found it easiest to flip the filled side over onto the unfilled side.  

Then use a fork to crimp the edge of the pastry so the filling stays inside.  Don't worry about little tears.  The puff pastry is pretty forgiving.  Mine tore mostly because I used a warm filling.

Repeat with all four and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  

With a sharp knife, cut slits in the pastry to let steam escape.

Then brush with the egg.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, rotating the pan half way through, until puffed and golden.

I served these with steamed broccoli. 

These were incredibly delicious and a completely different taste than normal leftover chicken.  I highly recommend trying this!

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