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Clay pots, the gardener's favorite plant container, have more uses than one. They make delightfully unexpected baking dishes for pot pies--an ingenious way to combine these favorite pots and creative cooking.
Brush pots with vegetable oil, line with aluminum foil, and fill with a savory mixture of chicken, herbs, and vegetables. Top with a flaky butter pastry and bake. Flowerpot pies are now ready to serve in their clay pot containers. Garnish with vegetable packet seed markers suggesting the luscious flavors within--carrots, peppers, tomatoes, and green peas.
Spring or summer garden parties will be an instant success when you serve your flowerpot pies with frosty glasses of lemonade and a fresh green salad.
Things you will need: 6 new flower pots, each measuring 4x4 inches, aluminum foil, vegetable oil, paper towels, egg yolk glaze, Butter Pastry, Chicken Pot Pie Filling (recipes follow). OPTIONAL: Decorative seed packets glued on sticks.
Tools and equipment: Mixing bowl, pastry blender or 2 knives, Dutch oven or covered kettle, scissors, pastry brush, rolling pin, knife, colander, wire whisk.
Shape the aluminum foil around the outside of the flowerpot. Reposition the foil so it conforms to the inside of the flowerpot. Remove the foil and trim it to fit the flowerpot. Fill the flowerpot with the Chicken Pot Pie Filling. Top the filled flowerpot with Butter Pastry and turn the edge under all around. Use your fingers to make a decorative edge all around.
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, chilledtbsp. solid white vegetable shortening
1/3 c. ice water
Place the flour in a large mixing bowl along with the salt. Cut the butter into thin slices. Using the pastry blender or 2 knives, blend the butter along with the shortening into the flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Work quickly so the butter does not soften. Sprinkle the ice water evenly over the top. Mix rapidly with a fork. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten it; wrap in aluminum foil and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
CHICKEN POT PIE FILLING:
1 whole broiler/fryer chicken, 3 lbs.
4 c. water
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 c. dry sherry or vermouth (or substitute 1/2 c. additional chicken broth)
1 1/2 c. raw green beans, cut in 1-inch lengths
1 1/2 c. sliced raw carrots, 1/4 inch thickness
1 c. diced raw potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 c. sliced mushrooms
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen peas
1 (16 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, well drained and quartered
4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 c. heavy cream
2 egg yolks
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the chicken, water, bay leaf, and garlic in a Dutch oven or covered kettle; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 30-40 minutes or until done; when done, leg will easily pull off. Place chicken in a colander to drain until cool enough to handle. Strain the broth and place it over high heat; boil, uncovered, until it has reduced to 2 cups (if substituting additional broth for the sherry or vermouth, reduce liquid to 2 1/2 cups). Add the sherry. Remove all meat from the chicken and cut it into 1-inch pieces and set aside; discard the skin and bones.
Add the green beans, carrots, potatoes and basil to the broth; cover and simmer 12-15 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender. Add the mushrooms, peas, and tomatoes; cover and simmer 2-3 minutes. Place the vegetables in a colander over a bowl to drain; there should be 1 1/2 cups liquid. Add water if necessary to make 1 1/2 cups.
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven; stir in the flour with a fork or a wire whisk; cook briefly. Using a whisk, stir in the 1 1/2 cups of broth. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce is smooth and has thickened. In a small bowl, beat the cream into the 2 egg yolks; beat the mixture into the sauce and remove it from the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the reserved chicken pieces and vegetables. Cool to room temperature before filling the flowerpots.
Cut 6 (12 inch) squares of aluminum foil. Turn 1 flowerpot upside down and place 1 square of foil over the bottom; shape the foil around the pot so it conforms to the outside shape. Remove the foil shape. Turn the pot right side up and place the foil inside. Using your fingers, gently adjust the foil to conform to the inside of the pot, making sure it doesn't tear. Remove the foil and trim away the excess all around with scissors. Replace the foil in the flowerpot; the top of the foil should reach the top of the pot. Do the same for all 6 flowerpots.
Preheat oven at 425 degrees. Brush the outside of each flowerpot with vegetable oil and blot them with a paper towel to remove excess oil. Spoon Chicken Pot Pie Filling into each lined flowerpot. The filling should come to within 1/2 inch of the top of the flowerpot. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut 6 (6 inch) circles of pastry. Place 1 circle of pastry over 1 filled flowerpot. Turn the overhanging edge of pastry under all around. Use your fingers to make a decorative crimped edge all around. Cut 3 small steam escape holes in the center of the pastry. Repeat the procedure for all 6 flowerpots.
Make an egg yolks glaze. Place 1 egg yolk in a cup with 1 tablespoon cold water; mix thoroughly with a fork or wire whisk. Using the pastry brush, paint the tops of each pie with the egg yolk glaze.
Carefully place the Flowerpot Pies in the center of the oven, directly on the oven rack. It's always a good idea to line the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil when baking pies because, occasionally, one may drip while baking. Bake the pies for 35-40 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown and the filling is hot.
For decoration, place seed packets glued to sticks on the Flowerpot Pies. Serve with a crisp green salad.
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