I try very hard to take lunch from home every day for my Hubbie and myself. It goes along with trying to eliminate processed and packaged foods from our diet, and most fast food is about as processed and packaged as you can get. I also make lunch for the boys, and one day a week I make lunch for Greg, the cousin who drives our son Mac to guitar lessons once a week. When I can come up with a lunch that works for everyone, that travels well in a lunch bag, that is quick to eat between guitar lessons and school, and tastes pretty darn good to boot, I know I have a keeper. This recipe itself has two little cheats in it, namely a deli roasted chicken from the grocery store, (I didn’t have my usual bag of chicken or turkey precooked in the freezer for just such occasions) and store bought bbq sauce (I am working on a recipe for one that doesn’t involve ketchup for a base or include refined sugar in the ingredient list, but it is a work in progress, I will keep you posted on that one). Other than that though, this recipe fits the bill. Add some fresh veggies or a salad on the side and you are good to go.
I saw a rendition of this recipe in a recent post in a new favourite blog, My Kitchen Cafe. The original recipe made one large braid, which I seriously considered making. But, being as I had 5 people to feed lunch to in 3 different places, I wasn’t sure how well slices of this would translate. So, I decided to make individual ones, and they turned out pretty darn cool. They kind of reminded me of the sweet hand pies that are on my “things to cook list”, but a savoury bread based version (ok, it is a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but the idea is sort of the same!) I used ½ a batch of my basic no knead bread dough for the braid part, the recipe for that can be found here. If you have a batch of that already in your fridge, these whip up fairly quickly. I intend to heat up ours in the toaster oven at work, but feel free to eat them right after you cook them. They smell amazing!
BBQ Chicken Handpie Braids:
Approx. 2 cups shredded chicken (I used 1 deli chicken, skin removed, legs, thighs and wings removed and set aside for another use. The leftover meat, shredded, was about 2 cups)
1 – 1 ½ cups bbq sauce of choice (our favourite store bought is a spicy and smoky chipotle)
2 medium onions, sliced, (I caramelized mine while I was getting everything else ready, I am not a huge fan of raw onions, but the original recipe used them raw)
1 ½ cup grated cheddar cheese (mine was marble, it was what I had in the fridge at the time, substitute cheese of choice!)
½ batch of no knead bread dough, divided into 6 equal portions
Place pizza stone on middle rack in oven, and broiler pan in bottom, as you would for baking a batch of no knead bread. (see recipe here for original technique).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, making sure it comes to full temperature before baking. The Stone needs to get nice and hot.
Take one of the portions of dough, and roll out fairly thin into a rough rectangle shape on a floured cutting board, or work surface, using as much flour as needed to keep it from sticking
to your hands and the rolling pin.
Cut 5-7 slits along each long side of the rectangle, leaving about 1/3 of the dough uncut in the center.
(Oops! Can you tell I didn't use the same hand pie for all the pictures?)
Starting with the bbq sauce, layer your ingredients along the middle strip.
Then the chicken
Then the onions
Then the cheese.
Now start the braid. Lift the strips and gently stretch and fold them across to the opposite side, starting at one end, alternating sides until you get to the bottom.
Tuck the last two strips under to complete the braid.
Carefully lift and place on parchment covered cookie pan with sides.
(the parchment paper, while not necessary, makes cleaning up very easy, as anything that leaks out of the hand pies does not stick and burn to your pan!)
Continue with the rest of the dough til all 6 are complete. My pan is quite large, and fit all 6 quite nicely.
Fill a measuring cup with 1 ½ cups of very hot tap water. Place pan with hand pies on the pizza stone and quickly pour hot tap water into broiler pan in bottom of oven. Close door quickly to retain heat and steam. Cook in preheated 400 degree F oven for 30-35 minutes, or until nicely browned and bubbling.
Enjoy carefully! Filling will be very hot!