Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chicken Chile Relleno Pies

Chicken Chile Relleno Pies

You want these.  They're among the best things I've made all year.  These Chicken Chile Relleno Pies are made of a cornmeal dough that's wonderfully sandy and a bit crumbly, and filled with roasted poblanos, chicken, cheese, and corn.  The ingredients, rather than standing out individually, all melt together into delicious, savory mouthfuls.  The poblanos and ancho chile powder heat it up with Southwest flavor.

The pies are admittedly labor-intensive and time-consuming, but you won't regret it.  Double the cornmeal dough recipe, which yielded only enough dough for me to use half of the filling.  Set aside time to make them all, then freeze and reheat to snack on whenever.  They would make a good potluck contribution, but if you're like me you'll hoard just about all of them.  This is the kind of comfort food you'll want to warm yourself up with all winter.

Chicken Chile Relleno Pies
From Handheld Pies via Food Republic
Servings:12 to 16 pies

2 tablepoons canola oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground chicken
½ cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen, if frozen do not thaw
salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder or New Mexico chile powder
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup water
2 or 3 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 ounces monterey jack cheese, shredded
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 batch cornmeal crust dough (Recipe follows)

In a large frying pan, warm 1 tablespoon of the canola oil over medium heat. Add half of the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add chicken and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or spatula and stirring occasionally, until opaque, about 10 minutes. Add the corn and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and set aside.

Return the frying pan to medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. When it is hot, add the remaining onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and let it melt. Then add the flour and stir until it coats the onions evenly.

Cook, stirring frequently, until the flour begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chile powder, paprika, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Increase the heat to medium-high and gradually add the water, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a gravy, about 5 minutes. Pour the onion mixture into the chicken mixture and let cool for 10 minutes.
Mix in the chiles, cheese, and lime juice, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Let cool completely. (The mixture can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before continuing.)

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly flour a clean work surface. Remove half of the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, place it on the floured work surface, and flour the top lightly.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle that is roughly 9 by 12 inches. The dough should be about ⅛ inch thick.

Using a plain or fluted pastry wheel, trim off the ragged edges. Then cut the dough into circles, squares, or rectangles, as small or as large as you like, saving the trimmings. Use 1-2 heaping tablespoons of filling for each pie, depending on how large they are, without overstuffing.

Shape the pies, sealing the edges and crimpling decoratively, if you like. Slash or prick each pie to vent steam.

Transfer the pies to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Repeat the rolling, cutting, filling, and crimping with second half of the dough.

Gather the dough scraps from both halves, form into a ball, and roll out to make a few more pastries. (Reroll the dough only once or it will bake up tough.)

When the second baking sheet of pies is ready, place the first pan in the oven and the second in the refrigerator, and then place a baking rack over a sheet of parchment on your table or counter. (This saves the surface from sticky drips!) Bake the pastries until they are golden brown on top (the sides will brown first), about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and immediately (and carefully) move the pastries onto the baking rack, then slip the second baking sheet into the oven. Let the pastries cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, but be sure to enjoy them warm.

Eat or freeze these pies the day they are made. They can be frozen for up to 2 months. Reheat in a 375°F oven for about 12 minutes.

Cornmeal Crust Dough
Adapted from Handheld Pies via Food Republic
(Here I've doubled the amounts and reduced the sugar for the Chicken Chile Relleno Pies)

1½ cups unsalted butter, cold
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup cornmeal
1 tbs sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 egg yolks
4 to 6 tbs ice water

Cut the butter into cubes and freeze them while you measure and mix the dry ingredients.

To make the dough in a food processor: Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in the processor and pulse three to four times to mix. Retrieve the buter cubes from the freezer, scatter them over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture forms pea-size clumps.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 4 tablespoons of the ice water. Drizzle the yolk mixture into the flour mixture and pulse just until the dough holds together. If it does not come together add the last tablespoon of ice water and pulse.

Turn the dough out onto a clean floured work surface. Gather the dough together in a mound and knead it a few times to smooth it out. Divide it in half and gently pat and press each half into a rough rectangle, circle or square about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate for 2 hours, up to 2 days.


  1. You weren't kidding about the labor-intensive part--that is quite a list of instructions! They do look delicious, though. Wonder if I can vegetarianize them? :)

    1. I thought of you and wondered the same thing! :) I thought of beans, mushrooms (which I don't like), and diced squash. I'm guessing tofu would be too watery.

      I think it would be less labor-intensive if I made one big pie and cut it up. But then I wouldn't have such cute little pie packages. And they are convenient snacks later.

  2. I should have not looked at this post, you made me hungry, that looks awesome

    1. Thanks! You should make them, you won't regret it.

  3. These look like a great make ahead and freeze pies for a quick breakfast or dinner


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