Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Autumn Picnics







We think of picnics as belonging to the warmer months of summer, but it can be just as wonderful to bring our food outside in the the autumn. Surrounded by the rich colours of the changing leaves and the fresh cool air, something delicious to eat is just the thing. I made these little chicken pies as my portable feast, along with some local apples which are in such abundance here in the countryside. I've given the recipe for the pies at the end of this post.
















Little Chicken Pies

These little pies are very quickly and simply folded into a pasty shape and crimped at the top to seal. They make a wonderful portable snack and really hit the spot on a chilly day. You can vary the vegetables according to what you have available. Here I am using leeks and carrots, but peas or mushrooms are great too. Or chestnuts...
Sometimes I use potatoes and peas and a spoonful of curry powder - so as you can tell, there’s plenty of room for improvisation!
Makes 4 individual pies (or 6 slightly smaller ones)
Easy shortcrust pastry


Sift 400g of plain flour into a food processor. Cut 200g of butter roughly into cubes and add  to the flour along with a pinch of salt. Whiz this mix until it breaks into breadcrumb size bits, then with the machine running, gradually drop 4-6 tablespoons of cold water into the bowl through the top. When the mix forms together as a ball, immediately stop the machine. Knead the pastry very lightly on a board to bring it all together and then wrap and let it rest for half and hour. Roll it out to about 2mm thickness and cut out circles using an upside down plate as a guide. This will yeild 4 circles of about 20cm or 6 of 15cm.


Filling


1 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 small leek, washed well and finely sliced
2 carrots, diced into small cubes
250g chicken fillet, diced
1 scant tablespoon flour
125ml chicken stock (or water and organic stock cube)
2-3 T double cream
pinch of salt and sprinkle of black pepper


1 beaten egg for glazing


Warm the oil in a large frying pan and add the onions, gently frying to soften. Add the leeks and continue to cook until these soften and colour a little (but careful not to brown too much) and add the carrots. Push the vegies to one side of the frying pan and then put the chicken into the empty side and sautee for a moment or two, then cook together with the vegies for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle over the flour and stir it in, then add the stock and cream, salt and pepper, and allow this to thicken for a minute or so. Then take the pan off the heat and allow the filling to cool.


Spoon the filling on to half of each of the pastry circles, leaving a 2cm border. Brush the border with water and fold the pastry over the filling to form a semi circle. Press around the edge to seal. Turn the pie, pasty style, so that the seal goes over the top and crimp it to give a nice finsih. My pies always look very homemade!
Brush the pies with beaten egg and prick each lightly with a fork.
Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet in preheated oven, 200c for 25-30 minutes and until pastry is nicely golden.

2 comments:

  1. Oh yes, can see you're a professional, your photos are fantastic. Is there a story behind the apples?

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  2. Hi Choclette
    Thank you for the lovely comment!
    I did that post in a bit of a hurry and didn't have chance to write much about the apples, etc. Someone else asked me to post the recipe for the pies so I am just about to do that if you are interested.
    As for the apples, we are just surrounded by laden apple trees in the Autumn. I don't know the varieties, but our neighbor has about 8 large trees and so we get given lots of them.

    I am just about to post a Christmas entry, so take a look when you get a chance.

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