I just realized that in the five years I’ve been doing this series, I’ve never addressed just how silly the song the 12 Days of Christmas really is.
I guess now’s a good time as any for me to do so: The 12 Days of Christmas is silly.
12 Days of gifts sounds great in theory. But when you actually stop and think about the so called ‘gifts’ that somebody’s true love picked out…meh.
I mean, five gold rings are fine I guess, but…what exactly am I supposed to do with seven swans ‘a-swimming’ or four calling birds?
A twelve person drumline may be cute, but…does that partridge happen to be sitting in a pear money tree? Cause if not…keep it.
Come to think of it, most of the gifts given during the 12 Days of Christmas were birds. And since I am a cook, and we are all just here for the food anyway, let’s just think of it as a bunch of poultry. I’ve got no use for a bunch of live birds. But dead, butchered poultry? That’s something I can definitely use.
So let’s pretend that on the third day of Christmas, your true love didn’t send you three French hens. Instead, they sent you three (or more) of these pies. (Hen is, after all, chicken so it’s not too big of a leap.)
I like to try to throw a savory recipe into the baking series, just to mix things up. Last year was this tourtiere pie. I wanted to do it again, and from very early on, I had what I thought was a pretty good idea of a place to start. A few years back I did a post where I made a chicken pot pie filling that I paired with biscuits. For these pies, I took that chicken pot pie filling and stuffed it into a delicious, flaky pie crust that I had made before last year for some Jamaican beef patties. (How’s that for recipe recycling?)
There are a lot of corners you can cut in making these to make the process go faster: you absolutely can make the filling for these with either rotisserie chicken or leftover turkey. I did. You absolutely can use a bag of frozen vegetables. I did. You can also make the filling and pie crust ahead of time, leave it in the fridge overnight, then come back the next day, assemble and bake so that the actual dinner prep takes less than an hour. I did.
It’s the 3rd Day of Christmas, so why not swap out 3 French Hens for these French Chicken–I mean HEN Pies?
Three French 'Hen' Pies
Recipe Adapted from Ina Garten
For Pie Crust
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
- 1/2 cup butter flavored vegetable shortening, frozen
- 3/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon cold water, plus more if needed
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 1 16 oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Onion Powder
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tbsp-1 tbsp. honey mustard (depending on taste preference)
- 4 cups chopped, cooked chicken (from 1 large rotisserie chicken) OR leftover turkey
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (if needed)
- 1 large egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons of water
For Pie Crust: In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and pepper with a fork. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate butter directly into dry ingredients. Slice the shortening into small chunks and sprinkle into the flour. Mix together with a fork or a rubber spatula. (Mixture should resemble coarse bread crumbs, with chunks of butter/shortening throughout) Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the water, beaten egg and vinegar. Mix together until just combined, then turn out onto a cutting board or pastry mat dusted with flour. Working quickly, pat and press with your hands until you have a mass of dough that holds together. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at LEAST one hour, but preferably overnight.
In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat until the onions are translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the bag of frozen veggies, cook for further 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute more. Remove the vegetables and garlic from the pot.
Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour. Cook until the mixture is just starting to turn golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the vegetables back to the pot, along with the bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme. Season with salt, black pepper, onion powder and the honey mustard. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in the cream, and chicken and return to a simmer. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove the mixture from the heat.
(If you need to thicken the mixture up, dissolve the cornstarch in about 1/2 cup of cold water with a fork, then stir this into the chicken mixture, allowing it to cook uncovered for about 5 minutes more until it reaches the desired consistency)
Refrigerate the filling overnight to allow the flavors to develop.
Preheat oven to 375°. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into quarters. Keep the other 3 in the fridge while you work with one. Sprinkle a clean surface with flour. Roll dough out with floured rolling pin to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 4-5 inch circles and place two heaping tablespoons of filling on each. (Don’t overfill, it will mess up your finish) Use your fingers to rub the bottom edge with water or egg wash, then pull the top edge over the filling and press down to fuse the two edges together. You may crimp the outer edges afterwards with a fork if you like. Repeat until you’ve used all of the dough, keeping unused rounds AND filled pies in the fridge as you work to keep the dough cold as possible.
Once finished, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil, and lightly spray with cooking spray. Place pies on pan. Brush the tops with the beaten egg, then bake on the middle rack until dough is cooked through & golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.