Michigan is an amazing state when it comes to farming and produce. We have three full seasons of growing, and each season has it's own unique primadonna of the garden. If you are someone who loves to cook this means tons of fun and flavor for you almost year round. To take full advantage of our local farmers we joined TITUS FARMS CSA [ Crop Share Association] four years ago, and every week during mid-summer thru fall we get a crate of organically grown, pesticide free, handpicked fruits, veggies, and eggs. It has completely changed our views on certain vegetables we thought we hated, and challenged me to find new and amazing ways to eat them. My mom shared a very simple recipe for a fall hobo style dinner this year that I have been experimenting with once a week. Last night I finally mastered it, and it was so incredibly delicious I immediately wanted to share it with all of you!
WINTER CHICKEN POT PIES
- yellow onion
- honeycrisp apple
- celery stalk
- large carrot or 4 baby carrots
- 2 bacon slices
- small butternut squash
- 3 cooked chicken thighs
- can of cream of chicken soup
- cup of skim milk
- 3 garlic cloves
- small bay leaf
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- fresh sage
- fresh thyme
- dash of each ground ginger - nutmeg - allspice - salt - pepper
- 2 tbl olive oil
- can of layer biscuits or pie crust if you prefer
- cookie sheet
- le creuset cocottes or large ramekins
- tin foil
PRE-HEAT YOUR OVEN TO 400* F
- Slice your onion thin - mince your garlic - chop your bacon into 1 cm strips and throw in a large skillet. Add the bay leaf, and sauteé until the onions become transparent and your bacon is lightly browned. Drain the bacon grease away, and set aside.
- Dice the celery, carrots, apples, and butternut squash. You're looking for slightly larger than 1 cm square. Throw it all in the same skillet with some olive oil, and sauteé lightly. You're not trying to cook everything, just heat it thru and give it a little color.
- Add your onion/bacon mixture back in, and season with all your other spices. Personal taste plays a huge part here, and if there is something you don't like just omit it. The only ones I will say are really vital to the finishing taste are the bay leaf and the cinnamon.
- Take out the bay leaf before you forget.
- Cut or shred your chicken thighs, and toss in the skillet.
We eat a lot of chicken, and I always have leftover meat. Feel free to make this with white meat if you like. I just think the savoryness of this dish pairs really well all the veg. If you don't have any cooked chicken I would suggest baking them in Italian dressing or boiling them in chicken stock first.
- Turn the heat to low, and add the cream of chicken soup. Fill the can up with skim milk, and pour that in. Mix everything together really well. The heat of everything in the pan should make it fairly easy to create your sauce. Once it's all sexy and saucey you want to turn off the heat.
- I used my new little set of Le Creuset cocottes to make personal pot pies, but this recipe would also work in a caserole dish. Lightly butter your pots.
[Everything up to this point is a bit of work, so I took it easy on myself and used store bought layer biscuits out of a can. I can't make a biscuit to save my life, and I will openly confess that I love flakey, layered biscuits ... so sue me. I usually make my pot pies with pie crust, but I wanted something a little crispier and denser to go with all the light veg this time.]
- Peel all your biscuits in half. You will be using 2 1/2 biscuits in every pot. Press two halves into the bottom of every pot so that it covers the entire bottom. Don't be afraid to moosh them around as they bounce right back.
- Put your pots on a cookie sheet covered in foil; Fill each pot with as much of the sauce & filling as you can. I crammed each one full, and let mine overflow just a bit. You can take a minute to clean up the spill before you pop them in the oven.
- Take 3 biscuit halves and arrange them around the top of your pot pies so that they mostly cover your pot. Press them together where they meet or they are in danger of sliding off the edge as your pies cook and bubble.
- Bake them until the biscuits start to get brown & toasty. I would start looking around 7 minutes. Once the tops are the way you like them you want to use a piece of tinfoil to cover all four pots. This will keep your biscuits from burning on top as you cook the filing.
- Bake another 30 minutes and then they should look like this:
I hope you enjoy these as much as we did.
NOW GO MAKE ART!