Colonial Comfort on a Chilly Sunday

At around 3 o'clock on Sunday, my fiance started thinking about dinner. Since it was a rather chilly Sunday, he told me he wanted something warm and comforting. Now, I was raised in Virginia but I've never really embraced a lot of southern comfort food. So, when I heard "warm and comforting," I immediately thought British. I'd had some recent success making pasties (past-ees, not to be confused with paste-ees :P) so I thought I'd try another variation. I made something like a deli-version chicken Cordon bleu with a swiss cheese sauce. Luckily, they went over very well! He complemented me several times. Now, pasties are intended to be a meal on their own (historically, they would have often been taken to-go by miners and such) but throw some mashed potatoes or steamed veggies on the side and the serving can be cut to half a pasty, stretching the below recipe to up to four meals. (I know these days it's all about saving money and making things stretch.) Luckily, these reheat well and quickly in the microwave or oven so leftovers are great for a quick dinner after a long day of errands. (I know I'm not the only one who hates to come home and cook after running around town all day!)

So, keep these in mind for the next snow day! They're a bit time consuming if you prepare your own dough (though most of that time is for the dough to chill) but they're very easy and so good! You can also experiment with the contents to use up leftovers (beef stew or roast chicken, anyone?) or create new varieties. The possibilities are endless! x

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasties
Yields 4 Pasties

Swiss cheese sauce
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk, heated
1/2 cup swiss cheese, grated, or torn into pieces
1/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon Paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

1 recipe of favorite 2-crust pie dough or store-bought dough
1/2 pound sliced chicken breast
1/4 pound sliced ham
1 Tablespoon milk
1 egg

For the sauce, melt butter in a small, heavy saucepan. Add flour and whisk gently to create a roux. Once thick, add half of the heated milk. Whisk until thick and bubbly. Add the cheese and whisk until melted. Once melted, add the remaining milk, white wine, paprika, salt and pepper. Whisk until once again bubbly.

Preheat oven to 400F.
1.  If using homemade dough, gently form a large ball, using all dough, and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or according to recipe). Then, divide dough into four equal sections and roll into 7-inch circles.
1.  For store-bought dough, defrost according to package instructions then, cut out four 7-inch circles (you can use a cereal bowl as a guide). 
2.  Lay out all four sections on a baking sheet, using wax paper between layers if necessary, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
3.  Spoon a layer of sauce onto each pastry, leaving a 1-inch gap around the edge.
4.  Divide the chicken among the four pastries, leaving a minimum 1/2-inch gap around the edge.
5.  Drizzle another layer of sauce if desired.
6.  Divide the ham among the four pastries, leaving a minimum 1/2-gap around the edges.
7.  Drizzle another layer of sauce if desired.
8. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and egg to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, wipe the edge of each pasty, all the way around.
9.  Fold over each pasty into a half-moon shape and seal each closed with a fork or pinch with thumb and forefinger.
10.  Using a pastry brush, lightly wipe the tops of each pasty with the egg wash.
11.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown.

Caution: cheese sauce will be hot

Inspired by The Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook. Sauce adapted from http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,1715,154161-255195,00.html

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