I had exactly two bad meals in France. Considering the math — three squares, over 10 days — I’d say that’s impressive. One of them was essentially a dare I made for myself, so it almost doesn’t count. If you see tacos on a French menu, don’t do it. I did it, so you don’t have to. You’ll get a sad pile of tortilla chip crumbs with diced tomatoes and half-melted cheddar. I don’t regret it though, because now I have proof that the French don’t know everything. Smuggest pile of sadness I’ve ever eaten, my friends.
Bad French Meal No. 2 was chicken in a tarragon cream sauce. Correction: Bad French Entree No. 2. I was really too busy with the bread and the wine and the pate and people-watching to have had a bad meal that night. And to be clear, I’m not whining about it now, over a year later. It’s just that it reminded me of one of life’s great combinations: chicken, tarragon, and cream. I’m not saying I carried this out better than that one particular chef de cuisine on that one particular soir . . . Oh wait, I guess I am. Sorry, not sorry.
I tried a little something different with the dough, and used David Lebovitz’s tart for inspiration. To be honest, this is only because I was too lazy to go out and get sour cream for my very favorite hand pie dough. That one is flaky, while this one is a little sturdier–you can’t really go wrong, though. Just keep in mind that that one is a full recipe, whereas this one is halved; so, either halve the ingredients for the dough or double them for the filling.
As for chicken, my motto is: when in doubt, go for thighs. When not in doubt, go for thighs.
They’re slightly richer, but not overly so. Not even when we’re adding cream — a reasonable amount of cream. This looks about right, no?
Do, again, keep in mind that this is what most would consider a half-recipe. I have my limits, you know? It makes 6-7 hand pies, but you certainly can double it.
Either way, I humbly suggest that you don’t skimp on the extra steps at the end. Biting into a freshly cracked, fragrant peppercorn is not something to be missed out on for the sake of laziness. Egg wash — that’s important too. We’ve already undertaken a somewhat fussy project by making the darling little things instead of throwing it all into a Pyrex dish and calling it a casserole… So a little extra care just makes sense.
And there you go. Meat Pop-Tarts. Don’t put them into tiny buckets, because that’s just silly. Put them in your mouth, yeah?
Also, if you were curious about my life lately… Funemployment Week No. 1 goes something like this: Apartment hunting is hard. (I can hear you responding now: “If it were easy, it would be called your…” Oh, nevermind. Just know that this is why you’re my favorite.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 3)
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon flour
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced tarragon
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 3-4 tablespoons cold water
- 1 egg yolk, for egg wash
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, for sprinkling on top
- Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan until shimmering. Add chicken thighs and cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 15 minutes total. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Return pan to heat and add shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about a minute or two. (Add a little more olive oil if the pan is too dry.) Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for a minute or so, then add tarragon and cream to the pan. Stirring constantly, incorporate flour mixture and cream once the mixture is thickened and bubbly, remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, dice chicken into 1/2-inch pieces. Add to pan and stir to coat, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside while you make the dough.
- Pulse the flour and salt together in a blender or food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture has a crumbly texture.
- Mix the egg with 3 tablespoons of the water and add to flour mixture. Pulse until it starts to come together into a ball. Add the additional tablespoon of water if necessary.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to an oblong shape about 1/8 inch thick.
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare one full-sized cookie sheet by lining with parchment.
- Cut out about 6 circles, about 4 inches in diameter (or 4-inch squares--in fact, this would be easier). Spoon a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each. Use a pastry brush to brush the edge of each pie with water before folding it over and pressing, using the tines of a fork to seal well. Transfer to prepared cookie sheet.
- To make egg wash, combine egg yolk with 2 tablespoons water and whisk well. Use a pastry brush to brush the top of each pie, then sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper (if you'd like). Use a skewer to poke a few holes into top layer of each pie.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.