Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lesson Learned

I was on a roll the past few days in my kitchen, feverously cooking and restocking the freezer with meals for Breck.
  • 6 seasoned burger patties for his George Foreman 
  • 6 egg sandwiches (a staple around here now)
  • 1 loaf of Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread  
  • 4 Tuna Casseroles
  • 4 Turkey Sausage Skillet meals
  • 2 1/2 pounds of shredded chicken
  • 2 dozen Sausage Tater Tot Muffins
  • 9 single servings of mashed potatoes (red potatoes supposedly don't get mealy in the freezer)
I still have a few things I want to make.  One is my Sausage and Cheese Kolaches, by far my most pinned blog post on Pinterest.  Hopefully people are not just pinning it, but actually making it.  They are so good. Maybe I'll get to those later today. It's really hot, so what else am I going to do?

I also made 4 Chicken Pot Pie Turnovers.  I had leftover puff pastry in the freezer from when I made Pear Tarts the other night that I wanted to use so I could get the box out of my freezer.  It was taking up prime real estate!  I chopped up equal amounts of carrot, celery, and mushroom to make 1 cup of raw veggies.

That was sauteed in 2 Tablespoons of butter with a teaspoon of thyme (dried from my garden last year), a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and 2 cloves of chopped garlic thrown in toward the end so it wouldn't burn and get bitter.  When the veggies were nice and tender I stirred in 1 Tablespoon of flour to thicken things up.

When the flour was well incorporated I slowly poured in 1 cup of chicken broth and a 1/2 cup white wine. This, my friends, is where I went wrong realized there was much to be learned about making a thick filling. There were two options here, either of which would have made this better in my opinion.  I could have used less chicken broth or more flour.  I would have liked the sauce thicker for reasons that will become obvious as you continue to read.

After stirring to allow the sauce to thicken, which it did but not enough, I tossed in 1/2 cup of frozen peas and 1 1/2 cups of shredded chicken. Some diced frozen potatoes or corn would have been good too if you are into starch, but I wouldn't add more than 1/2 cup of frozen vegetables total.  Do you see the pattern of simplicity?  1 1/2 cups meat of your choice, 1 1/2 cups liquid of your choice, and 1 1/2 cup veggies of your choice.  How easy is that?

I used my pizza cutter to divide my last puff pastry sheet into quarters, dusted with a little flour and rolled them to make them a little bigger.

Here was my second mistake learning experience.  I massively overfilled the pastry.  You can also see how the gravy yumminess is a bit too runny.  Why is too much filling and saucy gravy a problem, you ask?

Here is why.  Too much filling means the dough gets stretched too thin to cover and get a good seal on the edges.  The saucy gravy, when it reaches the edges, makes the dough not want to stick to itself.  At this point I thought that the whole thing was ruined.  I even placed them in the oven (375 degrees for 30 minutes after cutting a slit in the top for ventilation) with a pan underneath to catch the inevitable spillage that was bound to take place.

I was happily surprised!  Yes, some of the saucy gravy spilled out, but they looked better than I expected.  My son said they tasted good as well.  Therefore, only 3 made it to the freezer for Breck.

So what did I learn?
  • I really like working with puff pastry
  • 2 Tablespoons of flour next time so the sauce gets even thicker
  • Less filling per turnover
  • Instead of a traditional turnover shape I will try a boat shape, putting the filling in the center of the square and bringing up two corners to make the seal run over the top center instead of around the edges.  I saw this idea in a recipe book of my grandmother.  This way 2/3 of the puff pasty get nice and crispy versus the 1/2 in the traditional shape and any poorly crimped seam won't leak as easily.
  • I'll add a Tablespoon of Worcestershire to the sauce for a bit more oomph
  • Make sure the puff pastry is chilled.  Mine was room temperature and stretched too easily.
As for some other 1 1/2 combinations I would like to try:
  • Chopped ham, chicken broth without wine, peas, onion, and mushroom (maybe 1/4 cup cheddar)
  • Petite cubed stew meat, beef broth with red wine, peas, potatoes, carrot, and onion
  • Vegetarian with vegetable broth, and double the veggies using peas, corn, carrot, celery, potato, mushroom and onion