From Anik’s Kitchen: Chicken Pies

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The winter is back.

And what’s better at -10°C than some comfort food? How about hot marsala chicken, bacon and buttery puff pastry? How about something that Nigella recommends?

And there we already high in the comfort zone and right at these miniature chicken pies, though in my dumbed-down version (without de-boning chicken thighs). Since this recipe is from Nigella’s “Fast Food” cookbook, it’s also quick.

Chicken Pies (feeding 2 as alight dinner, 4 as appetizer)

Ingredients:

  • 4 small pie forms/individual soufflé forms (improvise if need be!)
  • 2 sheets of frozen puff pastry
  • 1 shallot (can be replaced with onion)
  • 50g bacon bits (can be replaced with bits of smoked ham)
  • 200g chicken breast filet (go for two thighs and debone them if you feel like an exercise in patience)
  • 250g fresh white mushrooms (Nigella swears by the brown variant, but it’s harder to come by)
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. thyme (it’s winter, feel free to use dried thyme)
  • 1 small glass of marsala (a sweet Italian dessert win that really gives the kick to this recipe. If you can’t get  hold of it, try sherry. You could also try cognac.).
  • 200ml of chicken stock (of course homemade is best, but in all honestly mine comes from a jar of “bio chicken stock” in powder form most of the time)
  • 1 small knob of butter
  • 1tbsp. olive oil
  • salt (little) & pepper

Instructions

  • Set the oven to 200°c (390°F).
  • Place the puff pastry sheets nearby to defrost.
  • Cut the chicken into bite-size bits.
  • In a freezer bag, mix the flour and the thyme.
  • Add the chicken pieces, close the bag and shake it until the meat is covered with the herb/flour mixture.
  • In a pan, melt the butter and half a spoonful of olive oil on medium heat.
  • Finely chop the shallot and add it to the pan until it turns lightly translucent.
  • Add the bacon (or ham) bits to the pan and wait until the white bits begin to turn translucent, as well.
  • Meanwhile, brush clean the mushrooms and cut them into thin slices.
  • Turn up the heat, add the mushroom slices to the pan and sauté them until they have shrunk and browned slightly.
  • Push the ingredients of the pan to one side, add the remaining olive oil on the free side and add the chicken bits (just empty the bag into the pan).
  • Sauté for two minutes, until the meat is sealed.
  • Add the marsala, then reduce the temperature to one third (simmer). After a minute, add the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper, though go easy on the salt, since chicken stock tends to be pretty salty already.
  • While the chicken simmers, it’s time to do an art project with the puff pastry: Place one of the pie forms upside down on one corner of a puff pastry sheet, press until it makes an indention. Remove the form and cut out the circle imprint with a sharp knife. Do that three more times. From the remaining pieces of puff pastry, cut lengthy stripes of perhaps 1cm width.
  • Dampen the rim of each form with a bit of water. Place a circle of puff pastry stripes along the rim. Set the forms onto a baking tray.
  • Once you have all four forms prepared like that, fill the chicken mixture evenly into them (since it’s hot, you’l be glad that you don’t have to transport them onto a baking tray now).
  • As the last step in the art project, dampen the four “lids” of puff pastry which you cut out earlier with a bit of water on the underside and place them careful upon the prepared rims. No pressing down, since that will squeeze the layers together and keep the puff pastry from rising.
  • Bake in the oven (lower half) for 20 minutes. If you have nothing better to do, stare through the oven window and watch the dough rise (in which case be careful not to drool all over the kitchen floor)
  • Serve right away – hot, crispy, flaky and bubbly. Delicious!

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