Pot Pie Pockets

Pot pie that you can pick up! I love this recipe because it’s a portioned serving, and it’s great for my kids because there’s no mess! Have you ever tried to give a little kid a pot pie? It’s horrible, and there will be things flung at the ceiling, walls, and all over the floor. These pockets can be picked up and enjoyed, or they can be served with a fork if you want to be more civilized. The recipe here is for a tofu and veggies creamy filling and a super simple four ingredient crust.

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Do ya’ll remember those freezer burnt pot pies back in the day? You know, the ones with the foil cup and the stale crust? Damn it those were delicious. 2020 has really sucked overall, like a tornado of suck that we got pulled into, and in this time of confusion and weirdness I’ve been really enjoying going back to my childhood and bringing that comfort food to my current dinner table. SpaghettiOs, Hamburger Helper, and more to come. Now, obviously I’m veganizing these nostalgic classics, because, well, I’m vegan, but even if you’re not vegan these comfort foods are just plain good. My goal with each recipe is to make them simple enough for anyone to make them at home and to mimic the taste, texture, aroma, and appearance of what I remember from my childhood but made at home.

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These pot pie pockets were legit amazing and far easier than you’d think to make. The recipe here is for both a meatless filling and a really simple crust that is based on the Pillsbury refrigerator pie crusts. Light, flaky, and they can be made ahead so that all you need to do is pull the little discs out of the fridge and load them up with either a sweet or savory filling! You read that right. You can use this crust recipe for either a sweet pocket pie or a savory on.

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Unlike a butter crust, this shortening based dough holds up to a liquid filling, the veggie cream sauce, and stays both solid and flaky when picked up. Butter crusts are great for a pie that you’ll eat with a fork, but I wanted something that would work for both. The trick to getting a shortening crust super flaky is simple. Freeze your shortening. There isn’t any water in it, unlike butter, and it won’t fully freeze but it’ll be a lot more solid than at room temp or even refrigerated. Freeze the whole stick then measure and slice right into your flour mix. If your shortening is a room temp it will disperse too much when mixing and you’ll just have a tough and oily crust.

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Tiny little tofu pieces

Use a firm or extra firm Chinese style tofu for this recipe. You are using the tofu for both protein and texture in your filling. It’s basically just like the tiny little pieces of chicken in that frozen pot pie. If the tofu is in too big of pieces then your pockets will be mostly filled with just tofu and you won’t get bites that have all the food flavors and textures. You want everything in your filling to be about the same size.

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Marinaded tofu goes into the filling last so that it doesn’t break up from over-stirring.

I marinaded my tiny tofu pieces for a couple of hours before adding into the filling mix. You can marinade but you don’t need to. It does give it a little extra flavor but not so much that you’ll be at a loss if you skip that step. In fact, I don’t even have that marinading info in the recipe. That’s just for ya’ll who are reading the full blog. You’re welcome. Cube the tofu into tiny little pieces and place in a 8×8 baking dish with 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon soy sauce or coconut aminos, and 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning. Don’t worry my fellow vegans, poultry seasoning doesn’t chicken in it. The spice combo is mostly just sage and rosemary and gives your tofu a pleasant flavor paired with the nutritional yeast.

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There are a couple of tricks that I’ve picked up along the way when it comes to making pie crusts:

  • Scrap that 30 pound marble rolling pin. You can’t press down hard enough with it, because you’ll snap the handles off, which makes it less functional than what you need in your kitchen. They are really only good with a soft dough, and you don’t get a good feel for the dough because the rolling pin is so heavy and not really that long. The only reason marble pins are used is because they stay cool, and it’s what your grandma had so you assume you need the same thing. You don’t to mess with that nonsense. Get yourself a straight wooden rolling pin or just go to the hardware store and pick up a 2″ dowel and cut it into two foot pieces.
  • Ice water isn’t a suggestion it’s a need. You want chunks of butter or shortening in your dough. Those little chunks get rolled out flat into suspended sheets that will bake and essentially fry into little layers in your crust which is what makes it flaky. Your fat should be as cold as possible, frozen even, and your water should have ice in it.
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  • Touch the dough as little as possible. Your hands are warm and if you tough the dough it starts to melt those granules of solid fat, shortening or butter, that you want to be able to roll out thin. Touching the dough warms it up and that fat turns to liquid and seeps into the dough. The crust will still be good, but it won’t have that shatteringly good flake to it.
  • Don’t over-mix. The more you mix your pie dough the more gluten develops and the more chewy your crust will be. Gluten forms when the wheat proteins gliadin and glutenin are rubbed together while hydrated. The more they rub the more bonded they become and the tougher your dough is. Sounds super sexual written like that, but it’s how gluten works. That’s the reason a bread recipe will say to knead for several minutes. The more gluten in a bread dough the better it’ll rise and more chewy it will be. You don’t want that in a pie crust or other pastries so you should stop mixing as soon as you don’t see dry spots. This is also why pie dough recipes say to “sprinkle water on” one tablespoon at a time. You slowly and evenly incorporate water to the dry spots so they hydrated but not too much.
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Pie dough should look evenly hydrated, no dry spots, but still be shaggy looking before rolling out.

The best part of this recipe is that you can use the filling and dough for other things or you can shape your pot pies as actual pot pies! Crazy right. The filling is really good served a little thinned out and over mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes, mixed with elbow noodles, or thinned even more into a soup. The dough, like I wrote earlier, is based off of the Pillsbury refrigerator dough and can be used for just about anything since it isn’t sweetened, and the shortening in the crust makes it more stable than a butter dough. I’m going to drop something off here for you to think about…curry pot pie pockets…I know right.

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And the moment you’ve been waiting for, if you didn’t jump to the recipe right way, here is the Pot Pie Pocket recipe. This could very easily be made in a couple of different ways so that you can have fresh pot pies during your week. Make the filling and dough as part of your meal prep on a Saturday or Sunday and refrigerate them to be shaped and baked later. Shape the pot pies and then freeze them on a baking sheet and keep frozen until you want to bake them. To bake frozen pot pie pockets place them on a parchment lined baking sheet on the counter while your oven heats up and add 5-10 minutes to the baking time.

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Pot Pie Pockets

These little hand pies are a hybrid between a veganized chicken pot pie and a cornish pasty. You get all the pot pie creamy and veggie goodness but more of the flaky pie crust you love and you can even pick it up! You can make the dough ahead so that your pot pie pocket can be freshly baked rather than simply reheated.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword baking, dinner, potpie, vegan
Prep Time – 1 hr
Cook Time – 20 mins
Total Time – 1 hr 20 mins
Servings – 8 hand pies

Ingredients

Pie Crust

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup frozen shortening (or refrigerated butter)
  • 6-8 tablespoons ice water

Pot Pie Filling

  • 1/3 cup vegan butter (Earth Balance is what I use)
  • 1 small yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 stalk celery (diced)
  • 1 cup mixed frozen veggies (See notes)
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup veggie broth (low sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup plain oatmilk (or other plain non-dairy)
  • 2 ounces vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti )
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 14 ounces firm/extra-firm tofu (Chinese style in water tub)

Instructions

The Dough

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  • Cut thin pieces of the frozen shortening directly into the flour mix. Stir using a heavy wooden spoon to coat the shortening with the flour. Cut the shortening in using a pastry cutter or two forks until the mix resembles fine gravel.
  • Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of the ice water into the bowl and then using a heavy spoon to fold the dough. Sprinkle one tablespoon at a time after until there are no dry spots remaining but the dough isn’t over-worked.
  • Dump dough onto counter and gently press it into a thick round. Divide into 8 even pieces. Shape each piece into a 1/2″ thick disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Each dough disc should be separate so that they don’t stick together. You can make a tower of them by wrapping them accordion style in a single sheet of plastic wrap.
  • Place wrapped dough in the fridge until ready to use. They can be refrigerated for up to a week.

The Filling

  • Measure all of the ingredients and prepare the veggies.
  • In a large non-stick frying pan or pot melt the butter and saute the onion and celery for 2-3 minutes or until the onion is translucent but not browned.
  • Add in the mixed veggies, stir, then sprinkle flour over the mix, and stir to evenly coat.
  • Add in the remaining ingredients, except the tofu, and stir while heating for 5 minutes or until the mix is thick and bubbling. Remove from heat and gently stir in the cubed tofu.

Make the Pot Pie Pockets

  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Remove dough from fridge. Place a sheet of parchment paper on counter, set a dough disc in the center of the parchment, place another sheet of parchment paper on top. Roll into an oval that is between 1/4″-1/8″ thick.
  • Peel off the top layer of parchment and spoon 3 tablespoons of filling into the middle of the dough leaving a 1/2″ void on the edge.
  • Use the parchment paper under the dough to fold it over and then press down to seal the edge before peeling back the parchment paper. Use a fork or spoon to press the edge and seal it. You can use fork tines to gently press the edge sealed.
  • Transfer the shaped pot pie pocket to the baking sheet, cut three slits in the top to allow steam release, and brush with a non-dairy milk.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is a slight golden brown color. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

You will have more filling than dough but the extra filling can be used in a lot of ways. Eat it on its own or thin it down with more milk for a creamy soup. You can serve it over rice or noodles. I always find it’s better to have a little too much filling vs not enough. 

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