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Good Things in Personalized Packages: Mason Jar Pies

Single serving pies, ready to go. And check out the nifty pie caddy!

Recently I remembered how much I love pie. It happened at a tasting for Purple Pie Company, the cutest little independent pie company ever to come out of Miami. Alex Van Clief, the PPC's Chief Officer of Pies, was selling little sample pies in tiny mason jars – adorable, inventive, and tasty.

Over the weekend I decided to experiment with the same concept: I figured that I could stash half in my freezer for dinners/desserts and give the rest out as gifts to friends. Also, since chicken pot pie is the best thing to ever discover hiding in your freezer, I opted to make that as the entrée and fresh blueberry pie as the dessert. I wanted each to be a hearty serving, so I used my Kerr pint jars (plus, it’s what I already had.). If you don’t have tiny little puppet hands like me, I strongly recommend using a wide-mouth jar or one that’s about as wide as it is tall, otherwise you’ll never get the crust to line the bottom. It’s a fun project, if a bit time consuming, and totally worth it since you wind up with an increased crust-to-pie ratio.

Hit the jump for instructions.

Chicken Pot Pie in a Mason Jar

I plucked the meat off of a rotisserie chicken (no skin/bones) and threw it in a big bowl. I melted a half stick of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and whisked in about five tablespoons of flour when the butter started boiling (a basic roux). After a few minutes of thickening (whisking throughout) I poured in four cups of chicken broth, increased the heat a bit and brought it to a boil. Then I reduced the temp to medium-low and let it simmer for a few minutes whisking occasionally (it should thicken up here).

In a big pan I sautéed a fresh onion, a handful of thyme, a few carrots, about 12 ounces of mushrooms, and salt/pepper. Next I poured the sauce and hot ingredients into the bowl with the chicken and mixed it all up. I made a basic crust, rolled it out (although I wound up just shoving it in there anyway), and pressed it into the bottom and along the sides of six mason jars. I filled them with the delicious chickeny goodness until an inch, inch and a half from the top of the jars, since this dish will expand during cooking, and then laid a final layer of dough on the tops. Put lids on jars, tighten, and then either freeze or refrigerate. (None of mine made it to the freezer, between gifts and drunk, post-Saturday night debauchery, my friends and I polished them off pretty quick. For the refrigerated pies I cooked them with the lids off at 400 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes and they were scrumptious. Damn scrumptious. I’d give the frozen ones an hour and then check them. This made about five or six pies.

Blueberry Pie in a Mason Jar

In a pie-daze, I couldn’t decide what type to make so I asked the produce dude what his favorite pie was. I started naming a few hybrids and he stopped me, “Look, if it’s pie, it’s gotta be blueberry. You don’t want nothin’ fancy.” So true. And they were on sale!

I put maybe five cups of washed blueberries in one bowl. In another I mixed up 2/3 cup sugar, some cornstarch (maybe 7 or 8 tablespoons), a little allspice, and a hearty dose of cinnamon and mixed it up. To the dry ingredients I added some key lime juice and a few tablespoons of water.

Crust: I tried two different ones. For the bottoms and sides of most I used my leftover standard chicken pot pie dough with a crumble crust on top. When I ran out I used just the crumble crust for all of it and that was WAY yummier, and stickier.

Crumble crust: I mixed a cup of flour, 2/3rds a stick of butter, some white sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon.

I cooked them (this made roughly 4 pies) at 375 degrees for an hour. Be careful taking them out of the oven – they are super hot and bubbly! Then I capped them and stuck them in the fridge. Had I chosen to (ehem, if we hadn’t eaten them all immediately), I could have stuck them in the freezer, lids on, before the baking part. Always remove lids when baking.

As an added bit of fun for the gifts, I made caddies out of recyclables since hopefully folks will reuse the jars. I made them large enough that they could hold two pies a piece (dinner and dessert) and decorated them. I included short, but sweet, recipe cards with notes for how to cook the Chicken Pot Pies. I used my favorite recipe cards: You can find them here online, and locally at Jezebel (1980 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale).

--Jamie Laughlin

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