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The Best Crust for Pot Pies

 Could you please give a recipe for pastry for a chicken and vegetable pie?

 You can use just about any unsweetened pie crust for a pot pie. Many people only put a crust on top of a pot pie, but if you want a bottom crust as well, you should blind-bake it — that is, place the bottom crust in the pan, prick it liberally, line it with parchment paper or foil and weight it with beans, rice, pennies, or store-bought pie weights, and bake it for 15 minutes or so in a 400°F (205°C) oven — so the bottom won't be soggy.

We make a more special crust for the top of our pot pies, however — a mock puff pastry. Real puff pastry involves encasing a layer of butter in two layers of dough and rolling and folding it again and again to create nearly a thousand layers of butter and pastry that loft up beautifully when baked. This version is much simpler, although the mechanics are similar. You'll have to start at least three hours before you want to assemble the pot pie, although the dough spends a fair portion of that time resting in the refrigerator.

Mock Puff Pastry

Ingredients:

3/4 pound (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups of flour, chilled
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup chilled water

Instructions:

Put the butter on a clean work surface and chop it roughly with a knife. Dump the flour and salt on top and use a pastry blender or knife to cut the butter and flour together. When well combined, but still dry and rough, add the water, a small amount at a time, and mix with a knife or dough scraper. It will look like a mess, but it produces a beautiful dough.

Scrape the dough to the side and dust the work surface with flour or use a pastry mat. With a rolling pin, begin to roll out the crumbly dough into a 6- by 8-inch rectangle. Use a dough scraper or other flat surface to fold the two short edges of the rectangle to the center, then fold the bottom side over the top, as if you were closing a wallet. Turn the dough 90° and roll it out again to form a 6- by 8-inch rectangle. Repeat the folding process. You may need to dust the dough and counter with flour occasionally to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin. Place the dough in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and repeat the roll and fold process two more times. At the end of the process, you'll be amazed at what a beautiful dough you have made. Seal it in plastic again and refrigerate for at least two hours. When you're ready to assemble the pot pie, roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thick and cut it to be slightly larger than the size of your baking dish. Lay the pastry on top and press along the edges of the dish to seal it.



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