Thursday, November 8, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

I have a thing for pies and soup topped with puff pastry. I think they look really classy, elegant and everything underneath the puff pastry seems extra special. Probably because puff pastry wasn't that easily accessible back then in Hong Kong, I only got to eat it on rare occasions when we visited some fancy restaurants and ordered French onion soup or lobster bisque. 

Now I still associate French onion soup and lobster bisque with puff pastry. Whenever the soup is served puff-less, my heart drops in disappointment like a child goes "oh" when he finally makes it to an annual carnival only to find that his favorite cotton candy stand is no longer there!

So you see, the puffy top is a real treat for me. Before breaking it, I usually give the content a gentle morning call. With a light, careful and thoughtful knock, little crispy flakes fall off the top. I pick them up, lick them off from my fingers one by one- this is the drum-roll before a kiss.

There is no fixed formula for the content of a chicken pot pie. Just do what you want, using your favorite, hearty and comforting ingredients. For me, I use mushrooms, peas, shredded chicken thighs and a dash of rosemary! Rosemary can never go wrong with chicken! :)

Chicken Pot Pie
(Serving: 4)
- 2 medium-sized chicken thighs, steamed (with spring onion and ginger) and shred,
  alternatively, you may use 1 cup of diced chicken breast to make things a lot easier and faster,
- 1/2 onion, finely diced,
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 cup of sliced white button mushrooms,
- 1/3 cup of green peas, fresh or frozen doesn't matter,
- 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary,
- 1 thawed puff pastry (I use the brand Pampas),
- salt and pepper

Ingredients for the Bechamel Sauce
- a small scoop of butter,
- 1-2 tablespoon of flour,
- 200ml (slightly less than a cup) of milk,
- 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard,
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg,
- salt and pepper

1. If you're using chicken thigh meat, steam it over medium fire until cooked, it will take around 15 min. Test to see if it's cooked using a chopstick, poke the thighs and when it's cooked, there should be no bloody liquid oozing out. Set aside to cool. Tear and shred the meat with hand or fork, but not knife.
2. In a pan, drizzle some olive oil. Fry over slow-medium fire the diced onions and garlic. Fry for a few minutes until the onion becomes translucent and soft. Then throw in the peas and mushrooms and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Finally, add in the chicken, season with salt, pepper, chicken powder and rosemary and mix well.
3. Now, prepare the bechamel sauce in a separate saucepan. First, over very slow fire, slowly melt a spoon of butter. This will take less than 3 seconds, and before the butter starts to brown, add in the flour and immediately whisk it with all your might. Ensure there are no lumps or burnt pieces. So please be quick. In say 5 seconds later, pour in the milk and start whisking again. At this point, you may start to calm down, grab your Dijon mustard and nutmeg and add them into the mixture. Mix well again. Over the slow fire, the mixture should begin to thicken. Keep whisking slowly and in less than 10 seconds, the sauce should be done. The mixture should be quite creamy and not lumpy.
4. Pour the bechamel sauce over the fried chicken ingredients. Combine gently. Taste and do the final seasoning. Now, you're done with the content!
5. Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
6. Divide the content and spoon them into 4 ramekins.
7. Cut the puff pastry into squares slightly larger than the ramekin mouths. Then cover the ramekins with the puff pastry. Slightly press the ends and corners of the puff pastry along the ramekins so the ramekins are tightly covered.
8. Gently carve a cross on the puff pastry, then brush over it some egg-wash.
9. Bake for 20 minutes. Set aside for 5 minutes before serving

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