A sturdy city is built on two kinds of grain, three kinds of ore, and the forgotten ruins of the settlement that came before it. This hex shaped city is nourished with hearty wheat flour and cornmeal, for lo, our fields are fertile. It’s reinforced with the healthy building blocks of carrots, peas, and corn, because sadly our children protest vegetables are as edible as rocks. (Remind them they should be grateful they don’t live off the side of a road with nothing but bricks to play with and wood to eat.) The forgotten ruins of the settlement are symbolized by the bones and last scraps of leftover chicken. Really, it’s a pretty grim recipe. Maybe you can make your way to a port where you can trade these pies for something better, like a nice lamb kabob made from wood and sheep.
Meanwhile, though, you’ll work with what you have.
Since I’m the kind of person who makes pot pies from scratch instead of buying frozen ones, I’m going to get a little fancy here. These aren’t difficult, but the first step is time consuming. Bear with me. It’s worth it.
4 assorted pieces leftover chicken
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 celery sticks
1 onion, quartered, skin on
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp kitchen herbs (basil and thyme for me; use whatever you own)
Let’s pretend you had chicken tonight. Maybe you roasted it yourself. Maybe you picked up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. Heck, maybe you even grabbed some of the Colonel’s best. I’m not going to judge. Regardless of how you acquired your dinner, you should now have a pile of bones and skin, plus a couple pieces worth of spare meat. White or dark, it doesn’t matter.
Pick the leftover meat off the bones and put it in the fridge. Throw everything else into a bowl and cover it up overnight.
Tomorrow morning, dump the contents of the bowl into a crockpot and fill it up until the water is about 2 inches from the top. Put on the lid, set it to high, and go on about your business for the day.
When you get home, amazing smelling chicken broth will have miraculously appeared in your crockpot. Congratulations. You’ll have more than you need for this recipe, so cool and strain the remainder. It’ll store in the fridge for a days or in the freezer indefinitely.
90% of a pot pie’s flavor comes from the broth. You can skip this step and used canned broth if you’re the kind of person who thinks traditional British food is a flavor explosion of epic proportions.
1 ½ cups flour
8 tbsp butter
4-5 tbsp ice water
¼ tsp table salt
½ cup yellow cornmeal + 1 tbsp
Cut your butter into cubes and dump them in a food processor. Add the flour. As evenly as possible, sprinkle the salt on top. Try to evenly distribute 4 of the 5 tablespoons of water. While you’re at it, add 1 tablespoon of cornmeal. Put on the lid and let the food processor work it’s magic until all your ingredients become a single dough. Try not to overwork it. You want your dough to be just solid enough to stay together. If it’s too dry, add the final tablespoon of water, but you’re best off erring on the side of less water.
Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for half an hour while you make your filling. If you’re preparing in advance for an epic gaming night, your pastry dough will be fine in the fridge overnight.
Alternately, you can save time and just buy some pre made pie crusts from the grocery store. If you’re going to cheat, make the broth from scratch and buy the pie crust. The broth really is the source of most of the pie’s flavor.
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup whole milk or milk substitute (soy, almond, rice)
1 cup shredded chicken
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, and peas work well)
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp cornstarch + ¼ cup water or more broth
2 tbsp butter
On the stovetop, combine the chicken broth, milk and butter in a large saucepan. Whisk the cornstarch and water or extra broth together until the mix is entirely lump free. When the broth mix comes to a boil, add the cornstarch mix and really whisk it until the whole thing is a uniform texture. Turn off the heat and add everything else.
Give it all a good stir and take it off the heat. Let the mix thicken for at least five minutes. If it’s still too wet, mix another tablespoon of cornstarch with 2-3 tablespoons of water and stir that in.
You can make the filling a day in advance and let it sit in the fridge. If you do, grab that bay leaf out of the chicken broth and let it sit in your filling to add a little extra earthiness. Just remember to pull it out before you assemble the pot pies. If you made your crust from scratch, it should be cool enough to use right around the time your filling is ready.
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Roll the dough out nice and thin. Grab your favorite muffin tin, a large circle cookie cutter, and your hex shaped cookie cutters. If you don’t have hex shaped cookie cutters, you’re going to have a long, dull time carefully cutting shapes by hand.
Either way, start by lubing up your muffin tin with some nonstick spray. Cut out 8 circles of dough large enough to completely fill the muffin tin. Spread your cornmeal on a plate. Dredge the bottoms of the circles in cornmeal, then gently press each one cornmeal side down into its own hole. Poke the bottoms a couple times with a fork.
Bake the bottoms of your pies for 15 minutes. You want to toughen them up a little before they get stuffed with soggy filling.
While the pie crust bottoms are baking, cut out 8 hexes big enough to just barely cover the top of your muffin tins. If you’re feeling fancy, you can cut little hex shapes out of the middle for venting. If you’re easily bored, you can cut out a lot of little hex shapes and arrange them around each corner of the big hex. Only you can decide if this is brilliantly evocative of Catan’s ports or kind of stupid looking. Either way, lightly dust the tops with more cornmeal. You need two grains to make a city. Plus, the sweetness and texture add nicely to the hand held pies.
Take your bottom crusts out of the oven. Add warm chicken filling to each one, stopping just shy of level. Gently lay the top crust over each one. It should touch the bottom crust, but don’t try to press it in or else you’ll deform the shape.
Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the tops are as golden brown as the fields surrounding your city. If you let the pies cool for 10-12 minutes before removing them from the muffin tin they’ll both hold their shape nicely and won’t burn your mouth on the first bite. I won’t judge if you shove your face right into the pan, though. By now, your kitchen smells amazing.
ALL OF THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE, AND ALL OF IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN
If you have octagonal cookie cutters or patience with a knife, these are perfect for Battlestar Galactica marathons. In fact, if you’re having people over to play the Battlestar Galactica board game, add a cherry tomato to one pot pie. Whoever gets it is secretly a Cylon.
You can find recipes for all of the hextastic goodness in Wood for Sheep: The Unauthorized Settlers Cookbook.
If this isn’t enough Catan-tastic edible awesomeness for you, check out these book preview posts:
Settlers of Catan Breakfast Bar
Settlers of the Mediterranean (Map)
Settlers of the Quick Breads
Welcome to South Catan Y’all
Settlers of the Cold Salad
All-American Meatloaf Map
Personalized Settlers Nacho Bar
Settlement of Catan Basil and Mozzarella Bites