Saturday, 13 December 2014

Chicken And Mushroom Pies

Nothing like a spot of rainy weather in the middle of December to get you to pre-heat your oven!! With an empty afternoon ahead of me, I thought I give a shot at making some individual, savoury pies. For someone whose baking sojourns don't last longer than an hour at a stretch, this was beyond ambitious.

The savoury pies I had in mind were to have a chicken and mushroom filling that would be encased in a short crust pastry case and topped off with a puff pastry lid. So, I was putting my hand up to make not one but two pie crusts from scratch. What was I thinking??

Three and half hours later, I have survived to tell my tale and honestly, it wasn't as bad as I thought. The short crust  pastry dough is something I am familiar with and hardly took much time. As for the puff pastry, I went with this  fantastic recipe by Gordon Ramsay for a rough puff pastry. I don't think any home cook should waste their time attempting the classic puff when the rough does the job so admirably. On another ambitious afternoon, I might be tempted to give the all-puff sausage rolls a try!!

As for the filling, it was a straightforward creamy chicken and mushroom filling. The assembly sounds more tedious than it actually is.

I did question, more than once, the wisdom behind attempting two kinds of pastry dough. But, it all gets justified when these pies come out hot from the oven and you cut through all those buttery, flaky, crackly layers of the puff pastry. All that beautiful, buttery crust is then contrasted with that creamy, herby filling. These individual pies pack in quite a bit and with a cup of soup and a side salad, I'd say one pie is enough for one person.

While a bit of unseasonal rain might have inspired these pies, they would make perfect picnic grub. And with the tropical Winter finally making its appearance, time to pack the Picnic baskets...or so I wish!! 
Chicken and Mushroom Pies

Makes 4 individual pies. Along with accompaniments, one pie should serve one.

For the Short Crust Pastry: 

  • 1 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice cold water

For the Puff Pastry: adapted from this recipe by Gordon Ramsay.
  • 125 gms plain flour
  • 125 unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • about 75 mls cold water
  For the filling: 
  • 25 gms unsalted butter plus extra for greasing
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 200 gms boneless chicken, diced and cooked through in some oil
  • 200 gms button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh herbs, finely chopped (you can use celery, parsley, thyme or any other herb of your choice)
  • 3-4 teaspoons plain flour 
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, for seasoning
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


Puff pastry:
  • Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Roughly break the butter in small chunks, add them to the bowl and rub them in loosely. You need to see bits of butter.
  • Make a well in the bowl and pour in about two-thirds of the cold water, mixing until you have a firm rough dough adding extra water, only if needed. Cover with cling film and leave to rest for 20 mins in the fridge.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured board, knead gently and form into a smooth rectangle. Roll the dough in one direction only, until 3 times the width, about 14 x 40cm. Keep edges straight and even. Don’t overwork the butter streaks; you should have a marbled effect.
  • Fold the top third down to the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn (to the left or right) and roll out again to three times the length. Fold as before, cover with cling film and chill for at least 20 mins before rolling to use.
Short Crust Pastry:
  • In a food processor, place the flour and salt and process until combined.
  • Add the cold butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (about 15 seconds).
  • Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of ice water over the pastry and process just until the pastry holds together when pinched. Add a little more water, if necessary.
  • Turn the pastry out onto your work surface, form it into a large round, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm enough to roll out (about 30 - 60 minutes).
Pie Filling:
  • Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and fry until soft. Stir in the garlic and mushrooms, season and cook for 5 mins until the mushrooms are soft. Stir in the fresh, chopped herbs. Add the cooked chicken to the mixture. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture. Cook, stirring, for 1 min. Add milk a little at a time, stirring until smooth and creamy between each addition. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 190 deg C. Grease 4 ramekins or mini pie dishes. Roll out the short crust pastry and cut out 4 large circles that will line the 4 ramekins.
  • Divide the filling mixture between the 4 ramekins.
  • Roll out the puff pastry and cut out 4 exact circles that will sit on each of the pie fillings. Seal the edges of the overlap short crust pastry on top of the puff pastry circle. Press edges to seal. Brush with egg. Bake for 25-30 mins, or until golden brown.

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