Friday, August 22, 2014

Freezer Cooking 2014: Chicken Pot Pie

Hello Fellow Homesteaders!

Today I will show you how I not only made some yummy Chicken Pot Pie, but I made my first real-lard Flaky Pie Crust! I have made chicken pot pie many times before, but it usually consisted of canned cream soup, chicken and veggies with a biscuit mix crust on top. Nothing wrong with that! But in my effort to be more frugal (baking mix costs quite a bit more than the ingredients it's made up of) and trying to use less commercially canned items, I went on the hunt for a more home-made version. Well, I found it, and it was fabulous! This recipe is also great for freezer cooking because it makes 3 whole pies! She doesn't give instructions for freezing a whole pie, so I took a chance and froze the other 2 instead of baking them. I will thaw them and bake them a little longer than recommended when the time comes.

The differences I used for my recipes:
I used a 32 oz bag of frozen mixed veggies in place of the carrots and peas. That is still much more than she calls for, but I also usually cut the meat in recipes by half to save, so the rest was made up in veggie bulk. I feel this is a win-win here. Veggies are cheaper and healthier than meat in general.
I had no fresh onions, so I used 2 Tablespoons of minced dried onion.
I omitted the salt (as she suggests) because my homemade chicken broth already has it added. Plus I omit salt from many of my dinner dishes because we like to add our own to our individual servings. My husband likes much more than I do.
Instead of cream, I used half and half. It was about 1/4 the price of cream here.
Instead of fresh parsley, which I did not have, I used about a Tablespoon of dry parsley flakes.
I was out of eggs (same day as the Cinnamon Rolls) so I used a bit of the half and half to brush the top of the pie instead. 
The only other difference, I used lard instead of duck fat in the crust itself. I did not ask for it at the meat counter, though I probably will in the future. Now that I have bought lard, I see they add preservatives and such to it, so I am going to look into rendering my own lard from beef (or duck) fat. I will let you know if I do.


Then I just followed the instructions as she has them. Mix the flour and salt first. By the way, my food processor is extremely loud! It's just a cheapy because I do not use it often.


Then I added the chunks of butter and lard.


There are much bigger chunks underneath that you cannot see. It was hard not to over mix this! I kept wanting to blend until smooth.


Then a bit of water. I think I ended up using 7 Tablespoons for each one.


She says you should see chunks of butter because that's how the crust ends up flaky. Look close and you can see, mission accomplished! Pretty proud of my novice attempt here.


Somewhere along the line I have read about using parchment paper to roll dough out to decrease the chance of it sticking. In the past, pie crust and I have not gotten along, so I thought I'd try this out. Here's my dough still in the plastic from chilling in the fridge. If you look super close, you can see teeny black dots where I marked a 10 inch circle to follow when rolling out the dough.


And here is my circle covering all the dots! After having this stick to the parchment paper, I learned that a bit of flour sprinkled on the parchment makes an honestly non-stick surface. So I will do this from now on. I don't like the waste of parchment and will one day look into buying the reusable kind. I rarely use it and found a few rolls for a great clearance price after the holidays last year that will last me awhile, so I will keep using it for now.


I didn't get a pick of this, but I folded the crust into fours (after flouring the top a bit so it didn't stick to itself) and unfolded it onto my pie crust. It didn't quite fit, but close enough I could make it work.


Then I filled all 3 pies with the filling. I didn't want to chance overfilling any of them, so I ended up with about a cup or so of filling left over.


Here's a pie getting ready to freeze in my deep freeze. My refrigerator is a side-by-side, so most dishes won't fit flat in that skinny little freezer. Yes, I found that out the hard way. Do you like my attempt at getting decorative with the vent slits?


Then here is the pie I baked for dinner that night and another fun attempt at artistry. We had dinner with friends, note the towel and plaid casserole carrier underneath. The pie was a huge hit! I played the humble card at the time, but when we got home I celebrated another culinary win! I love when recipes come out tasty and satisfying!


I hope you also enjoy this tasty recipe! I am excited to have 2 more of these in the freezer ready to go for another day. Possibly with a new infant in my arms. Yay! Right now I'm happy to be in my second trimester nesting phase. So if I disappear on you for awhile, just know that I am probably homesteading up some more entertaining posts for you!

Happy cooking!

Jen Hen

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