Chicken and Vegetable Turnovers with Sourdough Einkorn Crust

Chicken turnovers – also overflowing with leeks, carrots, celery and kale – baked in my oven while my husband and son raked leaves in the yard on Sunday afternoon.  It’s autumn, now.  The aspen leaves have abandoned their perch and lay in blissful, crisp piles around the yard and along the stone path to our door.

My little boy waited patiently as the first hints of autumn arrived.  He watched as the green leaves turned to yellow, and then to a rich gold and then to brown.  He and his father spent the better part of the afternoon raking leaves together, piling them high in the center of the lawn so that my elated boy can jump in, falling against the crackly, crunchy brown leaves who crumple under his little (but strong) 50-pound frame.

After their time outside, I wanted to feed them well – something satisfying, but also portable so that dinner might not interfere with leaf play and what could be, perhaps, the last of the temperate, mild-weathered afternoons of the year.  Winter will set in shortly, and we’ll have plenty of time then to snuggle inside, in front of the fire.  Chicken turnovers, brimming with autumn vegetables, seemed appropriate.  Turnovers and also warm milk with a touch of molasses and cinnamon – it’s sure to warm bellies against the bracing chill of an autumn evening.

We’ll take a walk later, chicken turnover and mug of warm milk in hand, to our plot in the community garden.  We’ll see if our cabbages are ready, if there’s any carrots left and what must be done this week to prepare the plot for winter.

Chicken Turnovers with Sourdough Einkorn Crust

For these turnovers (and most of my other pastries – like red currant pie), I favor a sourdough crust made from einkorn flour.  Einkorn is an ancient grain – the first wheat.  It is rich in flavor, and, as is the case with most older and heirloom varieties, it is also richer in vitamins and minerals than its modern cousin.  Unlike modern wheat, the gluten molecule found in traditional, old-world einkorn flour is often well-tolerated by people who are otherwise gluten-intolerant.  Indeed, it works well for my family.  We typically purchase it online in bulk.

The process of sourdough fermentation, as called for in this recipe, also increases the flavor of the turnovers – where the crusts mild tartness helps to balance the sweetness of leeks and carrots.  Just as the souring process helps to increase the flavor of grains, it also helps to make improve the availability of trace minerals in those grains as well. Even further, grains and flours prepared according to traditional sourdough methods are also richer in folate than grains, flours, doughs and batters not subject to sourdough fermentation.

I always keep a jar of sourdough starter bubbling away on my kitchen counter.  It’s easier to maintain than you might think and its uses extend far beyond bread baking to tarts, pancakes, pies and these chicken turnovers.

Where to Buy Einkorn (and how to get your sourdough started)

Einkorn berries and einkorn flour are not yet widely available (it’s much more difficult to grow, process and mill than modern wheat), but you can purchase it online at affordable rates and often with free shipping (see sources).

It’s easy to make a sourdough starter, as it requires only flour, water, a bit of existing starter (which you can find here), and time.  Check out this tutorial on how to make a sourdough starter.

Chicken and Vegetable Turnovers with Sourdough Einkorn Crust

chicken turnovers

By Jenny Published: October 21, 2012

  • Yield: 4 turnovers (4 Servings)
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 1 hr 20 mins
  • Ready In: 5 hrs 25 mins

These chicken turnovers are hearty and rich, like a portable pot pie. Perfect for using leftover chicken and a bit of broth (you can get both from this recipe for fresh chicken broth), these turnovers also use plentiful vegetables, too: carrots, leeks, kale and celery. If you are looking for einkorn flour, you can purchase it online here.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups einkorn flour
  • 2 teaspoons unrefined sea salt (divided)
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter (cut into 1/4-inch dice)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons clarified butter
  • 1 leek (white and light-green parts only, sliced thin)
  • 4 medium carrots (scraped and chopped into 1/4-inch dice)
  • 3 ribs celery (finely chopped)
  • 1 small bunch kale (trimmed and sliced very thin)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1 egg (beaten)

Instructions

  1. In a stand mixer, or by hand, stir flour and 1 teaspoon salt together, then beat in butter until the flour resembles corn meal. Beat in cheddar cheese and sourdough starter. Slowly add cold water, bit by bit, until the dough forms a ball and becomes pliable.
  2. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 8 hours, then remove from fridge and allow it to warm at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Cut the dough into four equal quarters. Place each ball of dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll it out until it forms a circle about 1/8-inch thick.
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter froths, stir in vegetables, remaining teaspoon salt, and cook them gently for 6 to 8 minutes or until they release their fragrance. Stir in chicken and broth. Simmer for a further 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has largely evaporated.
  4. Take a disc of dough, and spoon approximately 1/4 of the chicken and vegetable filling and 2 tablespoons cream cheese onto 1/2 half of the disc. Fold the other half of the dough over the filling and seal with a fork or by crimping the edges. Continue working until all 4 turnovers have been filled.
  5. Whisk beaten egg with a tablespoon or two of water to make an egg wash, then brush each pastry with egg wash.
  6. Cut a small slit in the top crust of each turnover to allow for escaping steam, then bake at 375 F about 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Allow turnovers to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.

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What people are saying

  1. Chef Nancy says

    I bought some bags of the Einkorn wheat berries off your link. I’m curious if you soak, sprout, dehydrate as is done with organic hard winter white wheat from the states?
    Can’t wait to try it!
    Thanks for the link

  2. Lauren says

    These look soooo good. I’m wondering what degree of gluten intolerance you have in your family? For me a single meal with gluten will leave me inflamed for two weeks, so I’m hesitant to buy einkorn and sourdough starter etc bc I just dont think it will end well…

    • jenny says

      In 2004 I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease based on a blood test from my endocrinologist who was also treating me for Graves’ Disease. I’m not sure that I had full-blown CD since there was no biopsy, but I believe a diagnosis of gluten intolerance to be more accurate. I removed gluten from my diet, got pregnant, then found traditional foods and spent years healing my gut. I tend to react to regular wheat, but not to einkorn – at all. I don’t know if it will work for you or not.

      • JoBeth says

        Jenny, when you mention that you do good with einkorn, is that sprouted? I too have Celiac Disease (blood testing) and want to experiment with sprouted grains. My understanding is that by sprouting grains, like wheat, it converts to a veggie and eliminates the gliadin, making it gluten free.

      • Kimberly says

        I am sensitive;to modern wheat and have no issue with einkorn. Im not celiac, reaction is more of racing pulse, light headed and something like a hangover with the bloating, and later joint pain, none of which happen with einkorn flour. Its not stated loeer glyten, so perhaps the old grain is simoky more digestible. – we don’t eat enough wheat to justify keeping a starter sadly, I’d end up tossing half of it

      • Josefina says

        I’m assuming the Parisian starter you use in your own starter, contains regular wheat. Does that not affect you then?

        • jenny says

          No – it’s a teeeny teeeeny tiny bit that has been fermented in my starter for 1+ years. This kind of long-term fermentation usually does not cause reactivity except in the most severe cases.

    • jenny says

      It’s a sourdough, and sourdough fermentation is more effective than soaking/sprouting when it comes to mitigating the effects of phytic acid.

  3. Tiffany says

    How do you the this would be without any cheese in the dough or cream cheese in the filling? I make a gf biscuit topped chicken pot pie that my kids really love, and this looks so yummy and similar, I’d love to try it.

    • Jenny says

      It would be fine without cheese in the crust or in the filling; however, the filling will be dry so you might substitute a gravy or something else to give it a bit of creaminess.

  4. Josefina says

    Do you get the flour from Jovial? I couldn’t see your links since I’m guessing I have an ad-blocker. If you buy the flour rather than grind your own, do you sift out any of the bran and germ before using? I noticed on their website that it retains 20% of the bran and germ and I worry about it since my son is very cavity-prone. Sometimes the grind is too fine for sifting out the coarser parts.

  5. Shalene says

    This looks fantastic! I’ve recently become interested in Einkorn–thanks to your site–and am planning on buying some! But in the meantime, if I wanted to try this recipe with organic whole wheat, would the flour/sourdough starter/water ratio be the same as if using einkorn?

  6. kristen says

    I want to give a little shout out to the deliciousness of these turnovers… they are AMAZING! Thank you for one of our new favorite fall recipes.

  7. Debbie C. says

    I have the sourdough ready and I have einkorn flour, both ground and berries. Do I soak the berries, dry and grind them, or can I just use the flour? Do I soak the flour first?
    Thanks so much!!

  8. says

    Jenny,
    I love your recipes, and I’ll look for your cookbook…can I find it at Barbara Jo’s Books For Cooks in Vancouver? If not, it should be!
    Thank you!!

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