Chicken pot pie is a homey dish to serve on a cold night, but we’ve taken those comforting flavors and transformed them into a sophisticated party appetizer. Use pastry cutters to construct your own puff pastry containers, also known as vol-au-vent. Then make a classic pot pie filling with tiny pieces of chicken, carrot, celery, and shallot, a splash of sherry or Cognac, and cream. Fill up the puff-pastry shells with the savory sauce, and serve these bites for a Christmas or New Year’s Eve party.
What to buy: If you’re pressed for time, you can use meat from a rotisserie chicken or other cooked chicken for this recipe. You’ll need 1 cup of 1/4-inch-sized pieces.
Special equipment: You’ll need a 1-3/4-inch fluted cutter, a 1-1/4-inch fluted cutter, and a pastry brush for this recipe.
Game plan: Both the chicken filling and the pastry shells can be made a day ahead. Cool and refrigerate the filling, then reheat it the next day in a saucepan over medium heat. Store the baked pastry shells in an airtight container at room temperature.
- 1Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Meanwhile, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly dust them with flour. Unfold 1 pastry sheet, lay it flat on one of the baking sheets, and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes. Leave the other puff-pastry package in the refrigerator and set the other baking sheet aside.
- 2Remove the pastry from the freezer and slide it onto a work surface on the parchment. Line the baking sheet with a fresh sheet of parchment and set it aside. Unfold the second sheet of pastry, lay it flat on the remaining floured baking sheet, and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- 3Meanwhile, use a fluted 1-3/4-inch round cutter to cut 35 circles out of the first sheet of pastry, pushing straight down through the pastry without twisting. Remove the scraps and transfer the circles to the baking sheet with fresh parchment, leaving 1/4 inch of space between each; set aside at room temperature.
- 4Whisk together the egg and water in a small bowl until combined; set aside.
- 5Remove the second pastry sheet from the freezer and slide it onto the work surface on the parchment. Using the 1-3/4-inch cutter, cut 35 circles, pushing straight down without twisting. Using a fluted 1-1/4-inch round cutter, cut out smaller concentric circles from the centers (if the pastry becomes too soft, return it to the freezer until firm). Remove the smaller centers and the outer scraps to reveal the puff-pastry rings. You should now have 35 larger circles and 35 rings. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the pastry is firm, about 5 minutes.
- 6Use a pastry brush to lightly brush each of the larger circles with the egg wash, working 5 pieces at a time. Place the rings on top of the larger circles, lining up the edges and pressing lightly to make them adhere. Discard the remaining egg wash.
- 7Bake until browned and puffed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Using the handle of a wide wooden spoon, punch down the centers of the pastry shells. Leave the oven on. (If you’re making the pastry shells in advance, store them in an airtight container at room temperature.)
For the chicken pot pie filling:
- 1Rub the chicken breast on both sides with the olive oil and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F, about 30 to 35 minutes.
- 2Remove from the baking sheet to a cutting board and let rest until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. When the chicken is ready, remove the meat from the bone, discarding the skin, cartilage, and fat. Cut the meat into 1/4-inch cubes and set aside (you’ll need 1 cup).
- 3Melt the butter over medium heat in a large frying pan until foaming. Add the celery, shallot, and carrot and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have almost softened, about 5 minutes.
- 4Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the Cognac or sherry. Increase the heat to medium high, return the pan to the stove, and cook until the alcohol has almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- 5Reduce the heat to medium. Add the cream, stock or broth, and sage, stir to combine, and simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, place the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir to combine.
- 6Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the peas, parsley, and reserved chicken until coated and warmed through. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- 7When ready to serve, spoon the hot filling into the pastry shells and serve immediately.