Culinary Improvisation (and Chicken Broccoli Pies)

A few days ago, I made a chicken in the crockpot. Usually, that means I’ll eventually make chicken salad. You know how sometimes certain foods, or the idea of certain foods, make you feel all icky? I get that way about mayonnaise from time to time. I just can’t imagine ever liking it or eating it. Blech.

Yesterday was one of those days. I had all of this chicken, and chicken salad was just. not. happening. Mr. Something wasn’t feeling 100% either, and the ProBowl was on at 6…. It was the sort of Sunday where you say, “Screw it,” and make pie crust because there’s nothing else to be done.

This isn’t even really a recipe so much as it’s a collection of things that taste good together. Feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand; some suggestions follow.

Chicken Broccoli Pies

  • one recipe of Alton Brown’s Pie Crust (this is a butter/shortening crust that doesn’t brown as much as all-butter crust, but I think it’s more tender and easier to make)
  • 2T butter
  • quarter of an onion, chopped
  • 2T flour
  • 1.5C chicken stock
  • 1C or so shredded sharp Cheddar
  • salt, pepper, cayenne, herbs de Provence, etc. (Float yer own boat.)
  • leftover cooked chicken, chopped
  • lightly steamed broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until slightly golden. Add flour, whisking constantly, and cook until the flour browns. Add chicken stock, whisking, and bring to a low boil. Turn down the heat, add the seasonings you like (herbs de Provence, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper turned out pretty well), and stir. Cook about five minutes, until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat, add the cheese, and stir to melt. Put that pan on a cold burner.

Mix the chicken and broccoli into the cheese sauce. Use a water glass to cut out dough rounds, then roll out a little thinner and place in regular-sized ungreased muffin cups. Spoon chicken/cheese/broccoli mixture into the cups, and top with another round of dough. My version of this made enough filling to fill six muffin cups with a bit leftover. (If I had a twelve-cup muffin tin, I think it would have filled them all.)

Bake at 375F for 30-35 minutes, or until dough is slightly golden on the edges. Cool 5 minutes, then pop out and enjoy.

Other combinations:

  • chicken/spinach (chopped)/feta (make bechamel without cheese; sprinkle cheese over chicken and spinach in cups before covering with dough)
  • cooked ham/peas/Swiss
  • steak/cooked potatoes/Gruyere

You are all intelligent people: meat + veggie + cheese = Tastytown. Anyway, these turned out way, way better than I anticipated, and Mr. Something requested them again while he was chewing his third bite. Sorry for the loosey goosey recipe, but again: I know you are smart. You’ll figure it out.

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