Friday, 22 January 2016

smoked paprika chicken hand pies

My week started swimmingly and so far has comprised of fun meetings, interesting conversations, and the brewing of exciting projects. A temporary departure from my healthy eating meant that I even baked some toasted almond chocolate brownies – yum. (Erm just pretend you didn’t read that, as I am all about the healthy eating now ok?) So naturally something just had to rain on my parade and I am now battling the flu. The horrible achy-head watery-eyed variety that makes you feel like death. However, I did happen to return home just in time for a spot of baking before my ill health took over.

And my you’re in for a little treat! I love pasties (especially Cornish pasties) and love drooling at all the hand pie images I see floating around on my Instagram feed. There’s something so quaint and old fashioned American pioneer about them – as though they’re ready to take over the world with their hidden fillings and high cuteness quotient. Edible gems that will sustain you as you travel, follow your dreams and work. In fact Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond makes an awful lot of these tasty miniature pies which are so versatile and practically make themselves, so I thought I’d try my hand (!) at these pies myself. And here you are – my version of a little pies you can eat absolutely anywhere, either hot or cold. Take them for a walk, feed the small children in your life who are suckers for anything cute, or pop them in your handbag while you go out shopping (I totally advocate this!).

The chicken and carrot filling is simple and the smokeyness comes from smoked paprika, which is one of my new favourite flavours. It’s spicy without being hot and very comforting. The herbs de Provence in the pastry filled the kitchen with a lovely aroma as the pies were baking. The pastry is tender and flakey but holds together well. So make a batch of these at your leisure as they freeze well for about a month and can be cooked from frozen. I am staying in bed for the remainder of the day and going to look forward to soup and tea. A fitting penance for eating all those chocolate brownies.

Ingredients (makes 4)
For the pastry
200g plain flour (plus more for dusting)
100g butter, chilled
1 tsp herbs de Provence

For the filling
1 chicken breas,t finely chopped
1 carrot, chopped into small cubes
Half a medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
1/4  tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/3 tsp cumin
Chopped coriander (4 tbs)
1 tbs oil

To prepare the pastry cut chilled butter into small chunks and gently mix butter and flour together in a bowl with your fingertips until crumb like - or you can pulse in a food processor. 
Add the herbes de Provence and 6-7 tbs of chilled water and with a knife bring the mixture together until it just holds. The mixture should be a little crumbly. Form into a ball, cover in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile make the filling by heating a pan with the oil and adding the garlic and chopped onion and salt. Sautee for a couple of minutes on medium flame until translucent and then add the paprika, black pepper and cumin. Mix for a minute then add the chicken and carrots. Cook this mixture on medium-low heat for five minutes and then add the coriander just before switching off the flame. Don’t worry about the chicken not cooking through completely – it will cook further in the oven. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cool for at least 15 minutes.

To assemble the pies take the pastry out of the fridge about 5 minutes before use, dust a surface with flour and roll out into a large square about 1/2 cm thick. Cut the square into four equal sized squares and add about 3 heaped tbs of filling to each, slightly off centre. Brush edges with water and bring up the free side of pastry and fold over, pressing around the edges of the filling. Use a fork to seal the edges and create a design and trim off any excess to even out the sides. Make 3 small cuts on top to let out the steam.

Transfer to a lined baking tray and freeze for 5 minutes or refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200c or 180c (fan) /gas mark 6 and bake straight out of the fridge or freezer for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden.

Serve with a salad and enjoy!

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