It is Sunday ladies and gentlemen and I feel like getting a bit fancy on y’all! The pie, such a tasty thing for our ancestors to have passed down to us. Clear your mind of all the times you’ve heard anyone tell you about how difficult it was or how that pesky crust is just such a pain. Making a pie is easy as long as you know the tricks and follow the instructions.
Baking is chemistry, cooking is art. Let’s repeat that once more- baking is chemistry, cooking is art! If your recipe calls for chilled, cubed butter, then by god chill and cube that butter!! When you are cooking, there are a few things that must be scientific, but the rest is just throwing things together until the dish tastes good.
Ingredients:Pastry-make this first so that it can chill while you cook the filling 2 cups flour 1 tsp ground turmeric 1 tsp ground cumin 4 oz butter, cubed 1 egg, slightly beaten (you can substitute egg product if you’d like) 2-3 T cold water Filling- 1 cooked chicken, no skin or bone (I’m using 2 large chicken breasts) 1 3/4 oz butter 1 onion, chopped 2 T curry powder 1 tsp cumin seeds 1 T flour 1 1/2 cups chicken stock 1/2 cup cream 1 T mango chutney 6 1/2oz sweet potato, cubed and cooked milk, for glazing
1. To make the pastry, place the flour, turmeric, cumin and butter into a food processor. Process the mixture for about 15 seconds, or until fine and crumbly. This can be done using a fork or a pastry cutter as well, but be careful- if the butter gets too soft, just put it back into the refrigerator for a few minutes and then continue to mix the butter and flour once it’s cooled a bit. Add the egg and 2-3 T cold water to bring the mixture together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and press together until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes while making the filling.
2. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and chop the meat into bite-sized pieces. Heat the butter in a large pan or deep frying pan and cook the onion until soft and transparent. Add the curry powder and cumin seeds and cook for another minute.
3. Add the flour and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in the stock gradually (approx. 1/2 cup at a time), making sure that the mixture is smooth between each addition. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens. Add the cream, mango chutney, sweet potato and chicken meat. Simmer for 5 minutes, then season to taste with salt and black pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
4. Divide the pastry into two portions. Roll out one half on a lightly floured surface until it is large enough to cover the base and sides of a 9 inch pie dish. Line the dish with the pastry and spoon the chicken mixture into the base.
5. Roll out the remaining pastry to cover the top of the pie. Brush the adjoining edges with water and press together. Trim the edges with a sharp knife and make sure to put at least 2 slits somewhere in the top crust to avoid any puffing. Roll out the trimmings and cut into decorative shapes. Brush the underneath of the shapes with milk and press gently on to the pie.
6. Brush the top of the pie with milk and bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Tip- When measuring out flour for pastry, NEVER scoop with your measuring cup! Flour compacts, so you will always need to spoon your flour into your measuring device.
Tip- When rolling out a pastry dough, be careful not to over work it. What the heck does that mean? Firstly- If you are using a food processor, as this recipe suggests, then you have to be careful not to just let the blades rip. If the better/flour becomes a paste, then it will not bake up correctly, so you want it to get no smaller than pea sized bits of butter and flour. Pulse the food processor for seconds at a time to prevent this from happening. Secondly- if you knead the dough too much, then your hands will melt the better or the pastry will be very tough, so don’t over think it.
Trick- If you don’t really want to cook up a whole chicken, or even cook up chicken period, an inexpensive and time saving way to make this dish would be to use the cans of chunk chicken that are in the same aisle as the tuna at the grocery store. This is always a good staple to have in your canned goods inventory, so keep your eyes opened for when it goes on sale!