More notes on puff pastry

In the recent puff pastry class, Chef told us that whatever leftover dough that we had (and if we wanted to keep it) should not be crushed into a ball but should be stacked in layers. With that, I brought home mine together with the almond filling that we made for the Pithivier.

Coincidentally, The Sunday Times featured the making of a chicken, mushroom and leek pie using the puff pastry for the layer on top and I decided to make a slightly different version of it, based on what I had in the fridge.

The steps are still similar – browning of chicken thighs (remember not to crowd them!) and then cooking of the bacon. I added Chinese sausages to it and while letting it simmer, tossed in broccoli and coriander. Having a good supply of home-made chicken stock at hand is always helpful for many dishes.

Lastly, I topped it up with the remnants of the puff pastry dough from the baking class and there you are, my own version of humble pie!

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More notes on puff pastry from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook:

Set aside plenty of time to prepare puff pastry; chilling the dough and letting it rest is very important and should not be rushed. The gluten needs time to relax after rolling or the dough will become tough and difficult to work with. Keeping the dough cold will ensure that the butter layers are even.

When rolling out puff pastry, make sure that your work surface is well dusted with flour. However, before making any turns in the dough, brush off any loose flour with a dry pastry brush. Excess flour can make for tough puff pastry.

To keep puff pastry from sticking, lift the dough periodically while rolling it out. If you can see part of the butter package through the dough, flour that area heavily and continue rolling; the excess flour will act as a natural patch for the dough. Just be sure to brush off the excess before proceeding.

If you will not be using your puff pastry dough within a day, cut it into 1-pound pieces (preferably square). Tightly cover the dough in plastic wrap, and freeze it for up to 3 months. Defrost frozen puff pastry in the refrigerator; this will take about 4 hours (you can allow it to defrost overnight if you wish). Don’t leave puff pastry in the refrigerator for more than 1 day or it will lose its ability to puff properly in the oven.

MAKE IT YOURSELF: CHICKEN, MUSHROOM AND LEEK PIE THROUGH PUFF PASTRY (from The Sunday Times, May 1, 2011)

(Makes enough for one pie crust)

INGREDIENTS

125g plain flour
A pinch of salt
125g butter, at room temperature but not soft
75-100ml ice-cold water
Extra flour for rolling the pastry

METHOD

1. Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl. Chop the butter into small chunks, add them to the bowl and rub into the flour with your fingers (there should still be small lumps of butter visible in the mixture).

2. Make a well in the centre and pour in about two-thirds of the cold water, mixing until it forms a firm rough dough, adding extra water if needed. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

3. Sprinkle some flour onto a chopping board and tip the dough on top. Lightly knead it together and press it into a smooth rectangle.

4. Roll it with a rolling pin until it is about 1cm thick. Do not worry if streaks of butter are visible.

5. Fold the top third of the dough down to the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn and roll out again to 1cm thick.

6. Fold again, cover with cling film and chill again for at least 15 minutes before rolling to use.

CHICKEN, MUSHROOM AND LEEK PIE

INGREDIENTS

1kg boneless chicken thighs
3 tbsp plain flour
½ tsp ground black pepper
salt to taste
olive oil
1 leek, sliced thinly (use white part only)
4 rashers of bacon, chopped
250g mushrooms sliced
350-400ml chicken stock
1 tsp chopped fresh or dried thyme leave
3 tbsp chopped coriander
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry thawed (or make your own, see other recipe)
1 egg, lightly beaten

METHOD

1. Remove any skin and fat from the chicken and chop it into bite-sized pieces.

2. Place flour, pepper and salt into a large bowl and toss the chicken pieces in it until well coated.

3. Heat around 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan or a heavy bottomed saucepan, and brown the chicken pieces in batches over medium heat until they are golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

4. Add a little more oil to the pan followed by the sliced leeks, bacon and mushrooms. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until they soften and start to brown.

5. Return the chicken to the pan and add half the stock. Once it starts to boil, add the rest of the stock until the chicken is almost covered. Add the herbs, then turn down the heat and allow it to simmer for around 35 minutes, stirring occasionally until the chicken is cooked and the mixture is thick and creamy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C.

7. Place the chicken into a pie dish (about 5cm deep) so that the filling comes almost to the top of the dish. Brush the top edges of the dish with beaten egg, then place the thawed pastry sheet (if using purchased) or rolled out pastry (if making your own) on top. Press the edges down to seal, then make slits on the top of the pastry.

7. Brush the top with the beaten egg again and bake for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.

Serves four to six.

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