Making piecrust from scratch was never my forte. But my family loves pie, so I often buy refrigerated pre-made crusts and use them, for chocolate cream, apple crumb, and pumpkin pies.
But weirdly, and inexplicably, my kids dislike quiche. So I never considered serving a pie-encrusted dish as a main course . . . until the night the pickiest of my picky eaters refused to eat an unadorned dinner of chicken and peas.
Yes, they were plain—as she had requested. They weren’t mixed together either, and the portion was appropriately small. So I was stunned to hear my tiniest critic so vocal about the awfulness of the meal. Then I had an idea: Why not put the chicken and veggies into a piecrust? A mini piecrust, my kids could eat by hand. Voilà! A new main course was created, and it quickly became a popular dish on the dinner rotation.
These turnovers are fun to make. Kids will love to roll out dough, brush the turnovers with water, and fold over the crusts to finish them off.
Turnovers are also versatile, so if there is a vegetarian in the house, omit the chicken and use a vegetable instead. Finely grated carrot makes a good stand-in for chicken. You can serve these savory turnovers for dinner with fresh fruit and milk, and pack leftovers for lunch the next day.
What You’ll Need
- 1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrust (2 crusts), at room temperature
- 1½ cups chopped cooked chicken (either homemade or store-bought rotisserie chicken works!)
- ½ cup cooked peas
- ⅔ cup shredded cheddar cheese (the packaged kind works great)
What to Do
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Show your child how to line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Carefully unwrap the piecrusts. Show your helper how to roll out the crusts with a rolling pin until each measures about 13 inches, and how to cut out rounds of dough, using a three-inch circular cookie cutter. You should have about 2 dozen rounds when they are all cut out.Teachable Moment: Ancient Turnover Facts to Wrap Your Head Around
- If you’ve noticed that the turnovers you made today look a lot like pies, well, you’d be right! The first pies ever made looked a lot like turnovers.
- Ancient people in Rome, Greece, and the Middle East developed the earliest pastry dough out of grains and olive oil. (Most cooks today don’t recommend using olive oil for pastries, though, since they’ll turn out pretty flat.)
- It was the Romans who pioneered putting tasty meat filling inside a pastry shell. Historians have found a few of the recipes they used, including one stuffed with a pork-and-fig mix!
- In the Middle Ages, inventive pie makers in Europe changed the game by using butter and lard in their dough instead of olive oil, and by rolling their dough out flat before filling.
- Let your budding chef stir together the chicken, peas, and cheddar cheese in a mixing bowl. She can put a little bit of filling in the center of each of the rounds of dough.
- Have your youngster use her little fingers to brush the edges of each turnover with a little water. Show your pastry chef how to fold the rounds to form a half-moon shape. Help her use a fork to crimp the edges, and explain to her that this seals in the filling.Teachable Moment: Cool Cultural Turnover Facts
- It’s thought that pastry was introduced to meat dishes in Roman times to trap moisture and keep the food from drying out during the prep. Diners weren’t expected to eat the doughy part, but sure enough the idea caught on!
- Historians aren’t sure why medieval bakers put a crust around a pie filling. Most think it was either to make baking the treat easier—or to make eating it easier.
- Most pies were savory like the turnovers you made in this recipe. Doughy treats with sweet fillings didn’t become popular until the late 1500s—more than 500 years ago.
- Many cultures around the world have created handheld pies similar to turnovers. You may have also tried Italian calzones, Middle Eastern sambusak, Spanish and Latin American empanadas, or the British Cornish pastry—all closed pastries with a savory filling.
- With a large spatula, carefully transfer the turnovers to the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 13 minutes, or until the turnovers are golden brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Let the turnovers cool slightly before serving.