Every year around this time my kitchen is abuzz with meal prep and entertaining. Though festive, it can get a little hectic.
Combine all of this with last minute Xmas shopping, and cooking dinner before the holidays is about as enjoyable as finding parking at the mall. Tonight, the cold wind calls for a warm, home-style dish, but one that won’t take 9 hours and 2 Advil to prepare (but still tastes like it did).
The answer? A butler.
No butler? Well, then I recommend a delicious pot pie. I created one recently, inspired by the myriad of Fall produce sitting in my fridge. When I think of a legitimate pot pie, I think creamy, buttery, Marie Calendars-style. Though, 3500 grams of fat/sodium later, and you too can have a cement brick in your stomach. I decided this time to deviate from the standard pie laden with heavy cream, carrots & peas. I opted for an individual ramekin serving, swapping-out peas for fresh haricot verts, and carrots for fresh butternut squash. Wrap them up in a savory sauce with golden puff pastry crust, and you can have comfort food minus the discomfort!
Since I had the time, I decided to cook ahead some chicken—since I love the slow-roasted flavor—but in a time crunch, using a store-bought rotisserie chicken is a fantastic, time-saving solution (and you’ll need it, for all of the sugar cookies you still have to frost).
These were simple to prep, and then it was left up to the oven to bake and brown. Eating them webt quickly too, since they’re pretty tasty if I do say so. I love fall produce, so this is one of my favorite new dinners, and thought you might like one too on a chilly night. Shall we eat?
- (I use 4,18-oz ramekins for individual servings)
- 2 large chicken breasts (bone-in & skin)
- ¼ tsp dried thyme leaves
- few sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 fresh leaves sage
- ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 egg, for brushing puff pastry crust
- 2 packages frozen puff pastry (4 sheets), thawed (1.5 sheets for EACH ramekin)
- 2 cans cream of chicken soup (10.75 ounce cans, 98% fat-free)
- 1 cup sweet white onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 12 oz fresh butternut squash, cubed (steam al dente, ahead of time)
- 7 oz fresh haricot verts, trimmed
- 1.5 cups fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced,
- 4 sprigs (or 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves), chopped
- 2 T shredded parmesan cheese blend
- sea salt & black pepper, to taste
- Rinse and pat dry chicken breasts, season with salt, pepper and dried thyme leaves.
- Place in small, oven-safe baking dish, drizzle with EVOO and top with fresh herbs.
- Roast in oven on 325 degrees until cooked through (180 degrees), anywhere from 30-50 mins.
- Let cool, remove skin and herbs, shred and chop breast meat, set aside.
- Steam haricot verts till al dente, cool and chop into ~1/2 inch pieces.
- Steam or roast cubed butternut squash, until tender, cutting into small pieces
- Saute chopped onion, garlic and mushrooms in a skillet with 1T butter, until tender, set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked & shredded chicken breast meat, cooked haricot verts, butternut squash, mushrooms-onion-garlic mix, cans of cream of chicken soup, shredded parmesan, dried thyme, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside at room temperature while preparing ramekins.
- For 2 ramekins, thaw 1 package (2 puff pastry sheets), and lay out each sheet on a floured working space, and thin out sheet slightly with a rolling pin.
- Butter each ramekin and gently, depress one sheet of the rolled puff pastry into ramekin spreading out fully to sides, centering in middle and letting excess dough hang over evenly.
- Poke dough in ramekin with fork several times, over inside and outer edges of dough (very important!)
- Trim long edges of dough around ramekin, but leaving a good inch to ½ inch hanging over (as dough will shrink and withdrawal from edges as it cooks).
- Fill each dough-lined ramekin with chicken pie filling.
- To 2nd puff pastry sheet, slice strips using half for top of each ramekin, weaving over top, like a traditional pie, criss-crossed.
- Using a fork, also poke ample holes in crust strips on top, then depressing sides of top strips to bottom edge of dough, to seal edges with your fingers.
- Brush dough strips with egg wash lightly to brown.
- Place each ramekin on a baking sheet, and bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20-35 mins, or until crust is browned and filling heated through (if crust browns too fast, tent with aluminum foil on edges until done).
- Once done, cool each ramekin on wire rack and serve warm in the ramekin, one/person!