Game of Thrones fans: are you ready for the highly-anticipated Season 8 premiere this weekend? No spoilers in this post, I promise. Winter is finally here!
The food in Game of Thrones is quite accurate to its medieval setting, but more importantly, it is a focal point of humanity for many of the characters. Fans know Sansa’s fondness for lemon cakes. The gruff fighter Sandor Clegane is known to enjoy a chicken. Even Arya Stark, one of the least maternal characters on the show, serves a family meal of pie. And in honor of Arya’s hand pies, I’ve made some hand pies of my own.
Whether you’re planning a full menu for a Game of Thrones viewing party or just want a hearty, hand-held weekend dinner, these Chicken and Spring Vegetable Hand Pies are a fun way to kick off the viewing season… or the spring produce season. These mini pot pies are filled with plenty of clicken, asparagus, peas, onions, carrots, and a creamy herb-seasoned gravy that’s easy to make in just one skillet.
Think of these as mini chicken pot pies, with a maximum ratio of flaky, crusty goodness to savory chicken filling. If you’re the type of pot pie enthusiast for which a single top crust is never enough, (seriously, it never is) you’ll love these hand pies. They’re also fun to pack in a lunch and will probably make the entire school jealous.
How to Make Hand Pies
Avoid overfilling your pastries. It is important to be able to seal the pastry to itself, without any filling in between, to avoid leaks.
The secret to making neatly-filled and shaped savory hand pies is to prepare and cool the filling ahead of time for at least one hour. The thickened gravy stays where you put it, so you can heap a spoonful of filling on your pastry and seal the pies without creating a mess.
If you’d like to use your favorite pastry dough instead of the refrigerated pie crusts that I used, go ahead. I’m sure it would be extra yummy! You’ll need enough dough for four crusts, or two double-crust pies. Roll them to the thickness of a normal pie crust, about 1/8 inch.
I used Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust. Remember to remove the crusts from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before you want to start assembling the pies. (Keep them wrapped to avoid drying out.)
Depending on the shape you use for your hand pies – round or half-circle – you’ll need enough rounds of dough to make 18 pies. You can also expect to have about a cup of leftover filling.
Shaping Hand Pies – Rounds
The hand pies in the photos are cut into neat little circles with a nifty Pampered Chef Cut N Seal Sandwich Maker (affiliate link).
The outside edge of this tool is basically a biscuit cutter. When you press firmly on the button in the center of the tool, a separate fluted ring crimps the edge of the ring, sealing it completely.
I cut the circles for my round pies using the outer ring first, spooned filling onto a circle, covered it with another circle, brought the upper and lower crust edges together, centered the sandwich maker over the filled hand pie, and pushed down to seal it closed.
I am not normally a fan of uni-taskers in the kitchen, but his little tool sped up the process of cutting and sealing these pies quite a bit. It also makes a homemade version of those commercially-made (and overpriced) crustless PB&J sandwiches. So it’s at least a duo-tasker. And I want to try it for making jumbo ravioli. Stay tuned.
Shaping Hand Pies – Half Circles
If you don’t have a sandwich maker, you can easily fold your pastry rounds over your filling, seal the edges, and have neat little half-circle hand pies. They’ll look a lot like empanadas.
For half-circle hand pies, you’ll need to cut circles about four inches in diameter – a bit larger than the size you would use if making circles. A two-crust package of Pillsbury Pie Crusts should yield enough circles for about 16 half-circle pies.
Spoon the filling on one half of a circle, keeping it away from the edge. Fold over the empty half of the pastry, stretching it a bit over the filling. Bring up the lower edge of the circle and fold it slightly over the top crust, crimping the edges with your fingers. You can also use the tines of a fork to crimp and seal the edges.
I baked my pies on parchment, but you can use a silicone baking mat or lightly spray a sheet pan before you bake these to make sure they don’t stick.
Chicken and Spring Vegetable Hand Pies
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 3 chicken breasts
- Kosher salt
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter – divided
- 2 medium carrots – chopped
- 1 medium onion – diced
- 2 stalks celery – chopped
- 3 cloves garlic – minced
- 2 tsp fresh thyme – chopped
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary – chopped
- 1/4 tsp ground marjoram
- 4 tbsp flour
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1/4 cup fat free half and half
- 3 oz fresh asparagus spears – chopped (thinner stalks are better)
- 1/2 cup green peas
- 1 large egg – beaten
- 1 tbsp fat free half and half
- 2 packages Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust
Prepare and Chill the Filling
- Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Season chicken breasts lightly with salt and fresh pepper. When pan is heated, add canola oil. Add chicken breasts.
- Cook chicken for about 10 minutes on the first side, adjusting the heat to prevent too much browning. (You want some browning – that’s flavor! – but not too much of a crust.)
- Flip chicken, cover, and continue to cook for about 10 more minutes, or until inner temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
- Add 1 tbsp butter to the sauté pan, along with the vegetables and garlic. Season lightly with salt and fresh pepper. Cover and sauté until soft, stirring often. Some browning is ok, but if it gets to be too much, you can add a tablespoon of water to help prevent too much. Scrape up those browned bits though, that’s flavor!
- While vegetables are sautéeing, cut the chicken breasts into a small dice. Add diced chicken to vegetable mixture, along with chicken pan drippings, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram.
- Add butter and flour to the pan. Stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add chicken stock and half and half to the pan. Simmer until thickened.
- Remove from heat. Stir in asparagus and peas. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Cool the vegetable mixture in the refrigerator for 1 hour. (It doesn’t need to be stone cold, it just needs to hold together when you spoon it onto the pastry.)
Assemble the Hand Pies
- In a small bowl, combine egg and 1 tbsp half and half.
- Unroll refrigerated pastry sheets, or roll homemade pastry into 1/8 inch thick rounds. Cut about 16-18 circles, about 3.5 – 4 inches in diameter. (If you plan to fold over your circles to make half-circle pies, use the larger diameter.)
- For circular pies: Spoon about two tablespoons of filling into the center of half of the pastry circles. Place a pastry circle on top of each filling mound. Gently bring the edges of the top pastry down to meet the edges of the bottom circle. You want to ease the top disc around the mixture.Crimp the edges of the pies with your fingers, a fork, or a sandwich maker tool. Place pies on parchment-lined baking sheet.
- For half-circle pies: Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling onto one side of the pastry circles. Fold the pastry over the filling.Crimp the edges of the pies with your fingers or a fork. Place pies on parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Brush tops of pies with egg / half and half mixture. Cut 2-3 small slits into top of each pie to vent.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
- If you want to be extra fancy, make some decorative shapes out of leftover crust. You can draw designs on their surface with a knife, and after you’ve brushed the egg wash on the crust, your lines will darken after baking.