Mason Hereford’s Recipe for Handheld Chicken Pot Pies

I do not always cook with recipes and when I do it’s more as a guide than a formula. But the first time I cook a recipe, I try to do it by the book. Usually I fail at that because I make substitutions, but things tend to turn out alright.

One place I’ve found a number of interesting recipes is a website called “Vice.” It is not the den of iniquity it’s appellation suggests, though the tone is casual. A few days ago I saw a recipe for handheld chicken pot pies and as I was reading it I had a familiar feeling – partly it was the inclusion of things like Zatarain’s seasoning and Louisiana hot sauce but it was also the way the recipe reads:

Make the filling: Get your oven to 375°F. Spatchcock the chicken (if you don’t know, google it). Season it all over with 1 tablespoon of the salt and 1 tablespoon of the pepper. Get 1 tablespoon of the oil hot in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Sear the chicken (if it won’t fit, cut that sucker in half and sear in batches) on both sides until it looks like Kramer in that episode of “Seinfeld” when he butters himself and falls asleep in the sun. Throw the backbone in there, too, because why not.

That’s the part where you roast the chicken that ends up in the pie. I understood it completely, including the part about what color the chicken should be at the end. I guess I didn’t need that, because I know how to sear a chicken and I ended up using a rotisserie bird, but I like the phrasing.

As I’ve said I sometimes don’t follow recipes precisely. In this instance I used the above-mentioned rotisserie chicken, and in addition to the carrots, celery, onion and garlic the recipe called for I added shelled edamame at my wife’s suggestion and damn if it didn’t work out well. The rotisserie chicken was a bit dry and I couldn’t get as much meat off of it as one I’d roast myself but the beauty of this béchamel-like sauce is that it auto-corrects for dry meat. 

Follow the link above to the actual recipe, but there are a few things to know before you start. First is that this is one of the best things I’ve cooked in a long time. It’s not complicated and while it can take some time it’s worth it. Second is that it requires something you can’t generally find in grocery stores: frozen roti paratha.

I’ve been buying these things for a long time. You can find them at shops like the Golden Market in Metairie, Hong Kong Market on Berhman Highway in Terrytown or International Market on Barron street off Cleary. They’re not expensive and you can cook them as a flatbread in a dry, cast iron skillet.

Hereford uses them as a crust, with 1/3 cup of a pot pie filling thickened with a blonde roux. If you can get the texture right, you can stuff these things with just about anything. For 30 minutes at 375 with an egg wash and I could eat these things all day. I ran out of roti paratha after making five and I could have made a dozen.

The recipe is taken from Hereford’s cookbook: Turkey and the Wolf, which I have yet to pick up but will soon. I’ll write it up when I do.

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