This has to be one of our family’s top 10 favorite things to eat. We don’t make them very often because they are a bit labor intensive, but they are well worth the effort. In fact, they taste so yummy that we nearly devour them as soon as they come out of the oven, piping hot and scalding our mouths in the process. But we just can’t stop ourselves. They are that yummy.
The cream cheese chicken mixture is well seasoned, but not spicy. It goes so well with the paprika seasoned pie crust. It’s comfort food you can hold in your hand.
To make assembly in camp easier, both the pie crust and the filling could be made ahead of time at home and ride to camp in a cooler. Here are a few more tricks we’ve learned along the way.
We chop all the vegetables really fine so every pie gets a nice variety of goodies. Dicing the veggies extra small also makes sure the filling is not too lumpy, which makes assembling the pies harder. When making the filling, we add the celery at the very last so it’s still a little crisp, but don’t forget to add it (like I’ve never done that before).
For the poultry seasoning, we prefer Johnny’s but you could also use Lawry’s or whatever poultry seasoning happens to be your favorite.
We make our own pie dough from scratch in 2 batches. I’ve tried to make one big batch, but it’s too hard to handle. For a flakier pie crust, make sure to refrigerate the dough before rolling out. So, making ahead actually works better for the pie crust.
If you choose to use store-bought pie dough, just give it a light, even, dusting of paprika as you roll it out. Use about a teaspoon of paprika and evenly distribute across your pie crusts. The pies won’t taste the same without the paprika pie dough. And you’ll need the equivalent of about 4-5 pie crusts.
To cut out the pastry rounds, we use Pampered Chef’s 4-inch round cut-n-seal or you can use a 4-inch biscuit cutter and then crimp the edges with a fork. I can bake 4 at a time in a 12-inch Dutch oven.
I can bake 7 at a time in my 16-inch Dutch oven.
I can bake 8 on a 17¼ x 11¼ baking sheet in a box oven (apple box) or a regular home oven.
For instructions on how to make a box oven, see my blog post, “DIY How to Build a Box Oven.”
Any way you bake them, they will disappear as fast as you can make them. Make sure you get one before they are gone!
Dutch oven or 17¼ x 11¼ baking sheet, skillet, mixing bowl, pastry cutter, measuring cups and spoons, 4-inch round cut-n-seal or 4-inch biscuit cutter, and a 2-tablespoon ice cream scoop.
¼ cup celery, finely diced
¼ cup onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups chicken, cooked and finely shredded, fresh or 2 13-ounce cans
3 tablespoons chicken broth
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup cream cheese
Pastry Ingredients (make 2 batches)
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
1 cup cold butter, grated or diced
8-10 tablespoons cold water
Prep Work for the Filling
In a large skillet, sauté onion in butter. Stir in chicken, broth, seasonings, and cream cheese. To the chicken mixture, add the celery and just heat it through.
Prep Work for the Pastry
Sift together flour, salt and paprika. Cut in butter until it resembles small peas. Gradually add water until ball forms. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled. Roll out pastry to 1/16-inch thickness. Cut rounds.
Assembly of the Meat Pies
Mound 2 tablespoons of filling on half of the rounds you cut (we use a small 2-tablespoon ice cream scoop).
Moisten edges with water; place another round on top and seal the edges either with the cut-n-seal or with a fork.
Place in ungreased Dutch oven or on ungreased cooking sheet. Prick tops with a fork. Bake in a 375°F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
For a box oven, you’ll need about 15 coals.
For a 12-inch Dutch oven, you’ll need 27 coals, 9 underneath and 18 on the lid.
For a 16-inch Dutch oven, you’ll use 38 coals, 13 underneath and 25 on the lid.
Makes about 20 pies, which will feed 10 if everyone has 2 pies or 6 if everyone has 3 pies (it’s been known to happen). If there are leftovers, at home, they reheat very nicely in the microwave. In camp, we just wrap them in foil and warm them by the fire.
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