Savory Pot Pie Crust
One of my favorite foods growing up was Banquet brand chicken pot pies. Occasionally, I’d be game for a turkey one, but 99.9% of the time, it had to be chicken. As I got a little older, I sort of drifted away from my love of them; not for any real reason, but I just did. Then I re-discovered them in college – namely, my senior year – and all of their deliciousness. A cheap, filling meal from a brand I trusted. Then when I moved home after graduation and eventually made my way out on my own, I forgot about them and have no revisited them. But I still wanted pot pie. Pot pie is delicious. Who wouldn’t want it?
The type of chicken pot pie I have been making over the last few years consists of a simple gravy base with meat and vegetables, poured into a pie pan, and covered with Bisquick + milk. The result was always messy, but it was pretty darn good. The Bisquick crust was crisp on the top and tender in the middle, leading to a yummy canned cream of mushroom filling. The couple of times I made an actual crust, it was store brand premade that just required some basic thawing and rolling out. They weren’t bad by any means, but I ended up preferring the Bisquick top, so that’s what I went back to.
Well, cue today. We were out of any basic vegetables besides onions and cabbage. I needed to go grocery shopping. While walking the aisles, I came across the refrigerated doughs and it made me think about all of the recipes I see on Pinterest of people who use Pillsbury biscuits, breadsticks, crusts, etc., and how much I scoff at those recipes when homemade dough is so easy to make! I can’t be a snob too much though, as until the last couple years or so, I wasn’t even making my own bread (and I still buy loaf bread) and I still secretly love Pillsbury’s breadsticks. They’re definitely handy if you don’t have the time – or the ambition/ability – to make your own dough. For me, however, knowing how easy they are, I can’t bring myself to buy them anymore. And if I’m too lazy to make it, we don’t get it at all.
So, anyway, looking at the refrigerated dough section, I realized what I wanted to make for dinner tonight; something I haven’t made in ages: chicken pot pie. Ironically enough, I had 4 Banquet pot pies in my cart for The Fellow™. On occasion, I grab him some of those and the Banquet salisbury steak meals to take to work on days when we don’t have leftovers from the night before (or if leftovers don’t sound good the following morning). He doesn’t care as much as I do about eating pre-packaged meals chock full of fat, sodium, and whatever else you find in there (and some days, I don’t either), and they’re something he can pop in the microwave at work. He’s happy with them, I’m less worried about him not having food for lunch, and we’re golden. :)
Tonight’s dinner required a pie crust. What I typically make for my dessert pies didn’t seem sufficient. Taking some cues from those recipes, I threw together a savory pie crust that ended up being the flakiest, crispiest, buttery-iest, most tender crust I’ve ever made, and I may very well have to remove its savory “bits” and use it for Thanksgiving pies this year.
Some helpful hints:
-Use only very cold butter and leave some reasonably big chunks in the flour base when blending. We’re not talking 1/2″ pieces, but a lot of pie crust recipes call for a very fine, crumbly texture when butter and flour are combined. You want big butter chunks so they are visible when the dough is rolled out. In fact, I took my butter out of the freezer, let it sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes, and (carefully) cut up the frozen butter for this.
-A pastry blender is a great tool to use to combine the butter and flour. However, filling the big bowl of a food processor and pulsing a few times gives a very desirable finished product. Some will swear against a food processor. As long as you don’t disintegrate the butter chunks, you’ll be fine.
-Refrigerating the dough for a minimum of 1 hour is required. With such big chunks of butter, letting the dough remain at room temperature (or even slightly warmer due to working it) will cause the butter to soften considerably and possibly even melt and/or disappear into the dough. And leave a mess on your counter. If for any reason the dough is left out longer than 10 minutes, toss it back in the refrigerator to firm up that butter.
Savory (Pot) Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1Tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup ice cold water
1 cup unsalted butter, very cold
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1. Combine flour, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powders into a bowl and whisk together.
2. Cut butter into 1/2″ thick chunks and throw into the bowl of flour. If using a pastry blender, blend the fat into the flour, making sure to leave some nice, big, visible chunks. If using a food processor, pulse just a few times until your large 1/2″ chunks are no longer 1/2″ thick. Bigger than pea sized, but smaller than the original size from when they plopped into the bowl.
3. Slowly add the ice cold water to the crumbly dough. Fold the mass with a spatula/spoonula, continually adding the water until just combined.
4. Turn out onto a clean surface, divide in to two batches, and flatten into a disc. Cover with saran wrap and stick in the fridge to chill for an hour, or even overnight. If you want to freeze the dough, wrap in wax paper, put in a freezer Ziploc, and store for up to four months.
5. After the dough is properly chilled, remove from fridge and place on to a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle the top with a bit of flour, as well as your rolling pin, and roll out, using the 1-roll-and-turn-dough method.
From this point, use dough as desired.