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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chicken Pot Pies

Years ago as a newlywed, I learned a cardinal rule of frugal cooking that has never failed me.  Left-overs need never taste like left-overs.  They don't even have to look like they were left-overs.  Seriously, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to serve your family the exact same meal they had the day before just reheated.  That's why left-overs get such a bad rap.  There are so many creative ways to use left-overs that simply reheating can go by the wayside!

the makings of chicken pot pie filling
A couple of days ago I made a quick roast chicken dinner consisting of roasted chicken with baked potatoes and steamed carrots.  I had half of the chicken and the gravy left-over for another meal.   It has been cold and snowy here so last night I de-boned the chicken putting the carcass into the freezer to make stock with later.  I decided to make chicken pot pie with the chicken and gravy.  Pot pie involves a filling thickened to a stew consistency and topped with at least a top crust but can be in a double crust if desired.

There is nothing wrong with mixing left-overs with a bit of fresh cooked or using them as an ingredient in a new dish.  I had no left-over potatoes or carrots so steamed some for the filling then stirred in frozen whole kernel corn and the left-over gravy.  The steamed vegetables were warm which helped mixing in the cold gravy.  Once that was mixed, I stirred in the chicken pieces.

chicken pot pie filling in the casserole pans
Pot pies are usually served in individual serving dishes.  You can buy the aluminium pot pie pans at the dollar store but I prefer to use re-usable oven safe stoneware of which I have a fair number of pieces.  The shape doesn't really matter.  I have round, oval, rectangular and scalloped.  The standard would likely be round the same as you would use for French onion soup.

I poured the chicken mixture into two individual serving size baking dishes and one double serving size one.  At this point the chicken mixture was very much like a thick stew so could have been enjoyed just the way it was but I decided a topping was in order.

cutting the puff pastry
Pot pie has at least some type of topping crust if not double crusted but you can get very creative here.  Anything from biscuit batter to pastry works well.  If I am in a hurry, I like using a drop dough that I would normally use for dumplings.

Puff pastry is a nice topping for pot pies because it is light and flaky.  You can use home made puff pastry but for this dish I used a store bought puff pastry left-over from holiday entertaining.  The rectangular piece of dough was just perfect for cutting into three pieces to fit on top of my filling.

puff pastry on top of the chicken pot pie filling
Trust me, a pot pie topping does not get much easier than using puff pastry sheets.  Simply cut and top even if using home made.  Don't tuck or pinch, just lay the sheet of puff pastry over the filling loosely to allow steam from the hot filling to escape.  It doesn't matter if the dough touches the sides or fully covers the filling because it does puff when it is baking.  If it touches the sides sealing off the filling completely, poke a few holes in the crust with a fork to release some of the steam.  You can lightly brush the dough with melted butter if desired.  This will give a nice golden colour to the crust but it is not necessary if using puff pastry or drop biscuit dough.

chicken pot pie fresh from the oven
Pictured are the chicken pot pies fresh from the oven.  I baked the pot pies until the filling was warmed through, just lightly bubbling and the crust was a golden brown.  The two smaller, individual serving size were served in the baking  dishes as is with a side Caesar salad.  It was a delicious, low cost meal that used up a few left-overs, just perfect for a snowy, winter's day.

Even though I used left-overs, it was fairly easy to make a completely different dish that did not resemble the first.  This is a frugal way to use left-overs.  Did you know that left-overs can actually be hidden in other dishes as ingredients.  For example, if I have a couple of tablespoons of mashed potatoes left, I often use them to thicken soup.  If I have a couple of tablespoons of applesauce left over, I use it in quick breads.  Bits of left-over vegetables find their way into meatloafs.  Get creative with using left-overs if you really want to save money in the kitchen!

[Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.]

2 food lovers commented:

Paula Schuck said...

This looks delicious! I would love to try it. You're very right - it's the sameness of the leftovers that people don't like.

SamiJoe said...

Looks great!