Thursday, August 2, 2018

Chicken and Mushroom Pies for Harry Potter

*Update 8/1/19* I made these pies again for Harry Potter's birthday this year with some alterations from the baking technique used last year. They turned out PERFECTLY! The flavor was spot on, just as last year, but the pies baked up more golden and had a much sturdier crust that was easier to remove from the pans. All the adjustments have been updated to the recipe below. The photos in the post with the exception of the broken pies (for evidence) have been updated. Yay!

This past Tuesday was Harry Potter's birthday, so of course this Ravenclaw and her Hufflepuff friend, Camille, had to celebrate! Last year we made bangers and mash and rock cakes from the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. This year we tried a couple different recipes from the same book.

Just a quick note, although I think this is a really cool cookbook with recipes of dishes mentioned throughout all the Harry Potter books, Camille and I both agree that some of the recipes aren't well-tested, and we have come up with some tweaks to improve them. For example, these beef and mushroom pies were adapted so significantly from the book, they are basically an entirely different recipe. The quantities in the filling (more than doubled), the sizes of the dough circles, and cooking times have all changed from the original.

For Tuesday's festivities I contributed the entree, while Camille made dessert. I'll be sharing the dessert in a future post. For the entree I decided to make individual pies again, but this time made one of the other variations in the book, featuring a chicken and mushroom filling. What's odd is that both this recipe and the beef and mushroom one both needed to have the filling quantities essentially doubled, but this recipe was closer to having the right size dough circles, while the beef one was way off. I preferred the baking technique for the beef pies over the one for the chicken pies, and have noted the difference in the recipe below. I found those had a firmer and more golden crust, which was easier to remove from the pans.

Why is this so important, you ask? Well, this is what happens when your crust is a bit too tender, even though you baked the pie at least 10 minutes longer than the recipe says. It breaks when you try to remove it from the pan. Oops!

Fortunately after having a couple incidents of leaking pies, I quickly came up with a plan B, and grabbed some ramekins to house these pies, since I had baked these a day ahead and planned to transport them to Camille's for Harry Potter's birthday the following day. The ramekins really saved the day, and make these delicate pies easier to reheat without making a mess. I never had a similar issue with the beef pies, so I think the baking technique really makes the difference here.

The ones on the right were the biggest victims, but I felt safer putting all the pies into ramekins for transportation

So what makes these chicken and mushroom pies so special? Well, they are not unlike American chicken pot pies, but without the carrots, celery, peas, and optional potatoes. It's really a much simpler filling that focuses solely on the chicken and mushroom. The filling is not boring by any means, and was perfectly seasoned and super comforting.

These little pies are SO GOOD, and a great way to celebrate Harry Potter's birthday in the future, or simply the next time you are looking for comfort on your plate.

Stay tuned next week for Harry's birthday cake recipe!

Chicken and Mushroom Pies
Makes 6 pies
(Heavily adapted from the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook)

Pie Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into pieces (I use Spectrum non-hydrogenated shortening)
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup cold water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 egg beaten

Stir the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter and shortening pieces and toss to coat with the flour, then flatten the butter and shortening pieces between your fingers until there are pea-sized pieces of butter and shortening throughout the flour. Sprinkled 1/2 cup of cold water over the mixture, and gently use a rubber spatula or bowl scraper to hydrate the flour until the mixture sticks together. Add more water by the tablespoonful as needed until the dough holds together. Divide the dough in half, form into two disks, and wrap each disk with plastic wrap. Chill at least two hours or preferably overnight.

To make the filling, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook until softened. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme, then sprinkle the flour over and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Slowly pour in the chicken broth while stirring. Cook until the mixture thickens (it will continue to thicken as it bakes). Add the chopped chicken breast, stir, and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and broth is thick. Adjust seasoning as needed. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl or container and cool completely. You can do this step a day ahead of time, and refrigerate the filling until needed.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. On a generously floured surface roll out each of the discs to about 1/8-inch thickness (it will be easier to cut the large circles if you aim for a 7-inch wide rectangle instead big circle like you'd normally do for a large pie). You will need to cut out 6 larger circles measuring about 6 1/2-inches in diameter, and 6 smaller circles at 3 3/4-inch in diameter. For the larger circles you can trace a knife around a plate or saucer. For the smaller circles, use a circular dough cutter or trace the top of the glass. You will likely need to re-roll the scraps from both disks of dough one or more times in order to cut out enough circles.

Cut a small wedge from one side of the circle, and then fit the large circles into the cups of a jumbo sized muffin pan. Press the cut edges together to seal once the dough is fitted into the cup. This will keep you from having a rumpled piece of dough inside the cup, and you'll want those removed bits of dough for your scrap pile to re-roll later. You can also patch up with scraps of dough as needed if you accidentally cut the wedge too deep.

Fill each of the dough-lined muffin cups generously will the filling, about 1/2 cup into each. Take the smaller dough circles and brush the edges with a little water, then lay the smaller circles over the filling, and use your fingers to press and seal the dough. Crimp the edges if you'd like. Brush the tops of the pies with the egg wash, and use a sharp knife to cut a few slits to form vents. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and continue baking another 30 to 35 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Remove from the oven and use a small offset spatula to gently pop each of the pies out of the muffin cups. You could also flip over the pan, but this could be dangerous if any of the pie tops are a little loose. These pies can be cooled, individually frozen, and reheated at a later time.


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