Despite my training and experience, I've had a lot of trouble over the years making pastry dough. It's weird, but I just have never been able to have a successful result with a variety of recipes, except for a couple: a butter recipe (here, scroll down) and a recipe from Gourmet (here). Today at work, I was asked to make pastry dough for the chicken pot pies being served for dinner. I was a little skeptical that I could pull this off, but I actually did it! I have no idea where this recipe came from, but I suspect it came from a shortening box. The shortening we use at this place is often purchased from Wal-Mart, and it's the Wal-Mart brand, and it doesn't have a recipe on the box, so that's not the source. But whatever the case, it worked out.
2 cups flour
1 cup shortening
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp cold water
1 tbsp vinegar
Whisk together the dry ingredients, and then cut in the shortening with a pastry blender. You'll have something that looks like this:
Crumbly, with some larger chunks in it - it doesn't have to be perfect.
Whisk together the wet ingredients and add them to the dry.
Stir until combined. I was making three times the recipe and I wound up using my hands, and my dough was a bit sticky, so I just added a bit more flour.
The work surface needed to be well-floured for easy rolling, and one of the things I love about commercial kitchens is that you have a lot of room to roll pastry out and you can use as much flour as necessary without it making a huge mess.I needed 36 tops for 36 chicken pot pies, cut with the oval ramekins the pies were being baked and served in.Cute, eh? I was pretty pleased with myself. My confidence in my pastry-making skills has been restored!