9 October 09 • SCB

When I was at Rabelais Books in Maine two weeks ago, I picked up the cookbook Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn. I was initially a little rankled by the assumption that the maker is a woman and the recipients are men and boys, but as I flipped through her introduction I recognized that this is really a book about creating a healthy and happy family life surrounding food. She maintains that men have a different relationship to food, ‘all appetite and no pretense’ which I think is quite true. I also hold faith with her position that if you cook well and from scratch for boys (and girls) that they will grow up wanting to cook for themselves (I know this was true of my own brother).

When I unpacked this book from my suitcase, however, it was not my man or boy who spent an hour examining each recipe—it was my mad hungry girl. Her first request? The chicken pocket pies.

Now, I’m a little pastry-phobic (I make quiche weekly, but with the frozen pie crust from my market).  So, I was really pleased with how simply the cream cheese pastry came together (no cold butter! no ice water!) and how easy it was to roll and cut. Even though we over-filled our pies, they held together very well. The pies were delicious—simple and homey and familiar. Mia took the leftovers in her lunch the next day and has requested them weekly. I think I will double the recipe next time (they freeze well, apparently). My simplified version of the recipe follows. Vegetarians could easily make a version with veggie broth and more veggies or tofu in place of the chicken. Enjoy.

Chicken Pocket Pies
adapted from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used shallot)
1/3 cup chopped carrot
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups chicken broth (home-cooked is best)
1 heaping cup shredded chicken (I used leftover roast chicken)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 recipe Cream Cheese Pastry
1 large egg for egg wash.

To make the filling, melt the butter in a skillet  and the vegetables. Saute over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the salt and flour and cook for another minute. Add the chicken broth and stir until thickened (a few minutes). Stir in the cheese and chicken. Cool in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out dough in two batches and cut 5-inch circles (I used a small plate as a guide). Place 1/4 cup filling on half of each circle. Moisten edges of circle with water and fold dough over to form a half-circle. Crimp edges with fork.

Place pies on a buttered cookie sheet and chill for a few minutes. Prick tops with a fork. Beat egg with a tablespoon of water. Brush tops with egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly-browned. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Cream Cheese Pastry
8 tablespoons (1 stick unsalted butter) at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Process butter, cream cheese and cream to thoroughly combine. Add flour and salt and process until combined and a ball forms. Divide the dough into two disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.