Sweet Potato + Chicken Hand Pies

My mini-vacation is over. I started a new job this week and I love it. The people, the work, the company - all amazing. I've only had three (long) days of training, but I'm already excited about diving in and learning and more. The company is Omada Health and it's based out of San Francisco. Omada is a startup healthcare-tech business who's mission is to help people lower their risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes through technology and digital health coaching. I will be one of their Health Coaches in Seattle and my job is to provide support, motivation, and education for our participants. From what I have seen, I think it will be a very rewarding and engaging experience. I can't wait to get started!    

Of course, I'll still have plenty of time to cook, especially since I will be working from home. My breaks from the computer will probably be spent washing dishes, stirring a pot, or rotating something in the oven. I still have so many recipes that I want to try and others that I need to perfect. This recipe was one that I made out in Sequim. The crust is buttery, flaky, and crisp and the filling is a perfect combination of sweet and savory. I absolutely love sweet potatoes. We usually make them into sweet potato fries on burger nights, but this may be a new favorite... I highly recommend you eat at least one hand pie straight from the oven (maybe let it cool a bit) because that's when they are the best.   


// Sweet Potato + Chicken Hand Pies // makes about 18-24
The number of hand pies this recipe makes really depends on how big you make the circles. I used a 3 1/2 inch cutter for mine, but you can use larger or smaller (I wouldn't go too small, though because then they'd be a pain to seal). This may also mean that you might end up with extra dough. If that's the case, you can freeze it for another time, use it as a crust for a mini-quiche, or bake it with some toppings for a rustic galette.   

For the filling:
1 lb sweet potatoes or yams
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb chicken breast
1 tablespoon butter
1 large leek, ends trimmed and cut into small slices (I cut mine in half lengthwise twice)
Salt and pepper

for the crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
10 tablespoons butter, preferably frozen
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sour cream
7-8 tablespoons ice water, more if needed

2 eggs, beaten
Brown sugar

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Wrap sweet potatoes together in tin foil and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and let cool

2. In an oven-safe frying pan or skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Place chicken breast in the pan and generously sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken for about 7-8 minutes or until the underside is golden, but not crispy. Flip and cook for another 7-8 minutes. When both sides are golden, cover and place skillet in oven for 10-15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160°.

3. For the leeks, heat the butter in another skillet (or you can use the chicken pan if it's out of the oven already. No need to wash it). Add the leeks with a little bit of salt and pepper and cook until leeks are very soft and a bit caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and scrape into a large bowl. 

4. Remove the sweet potatoes from their skins and add to the bowl. Shred the chicken with two forks and add to the bowl. Mix the sweet potato mixture well and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool. 

5. To make the crust, combine the flours, thyme, and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Either grate the butter into the flour mixture, taking care to keep it as cold as possible, or cut the butter into large chunks and work it into the flour with your fingers or pastry cutter. The butter should end up being about "pea" size. At this point I usually put it back in the fridge or freezer for 10 minutes to make sure the butter stays cold, but that's up to you.

6. Mix together the sour cream with 7 tablespoons of ice water. Slowly dribble the ice water mixture into the flour and stir with a fork until the dough looks ragged, but feels like it will come together. If it seems too dry, add a bit more ice water. Gently knead the dough until it forms a cohesive mass, folding it over on itself a couple of times to get layers of butter that later mean a nice flaky pastry. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes

7. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut dough into 3 portions and roll out one portion on a lightly floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick (keep remaining dough in fridge). Cut out circles and wrap unused dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge. Transfer circles to a baking sheet and brush tops with egg. Add the sweet potato filling, the amount will depend on how big your circles are, but it'll probably be 1-3 big tablespoons. Fold one side of the circle over the filling to meet the other edge of the circle. Seal with the prongs of a fork. Place in fridge if there's room - this helps prevent a tough pastry. Continue rolling out dough and making the hand pies until you run out of filling. 

8. When all the hand pies are made, brush tops with egg and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake at 350° for 25-27 minutes.