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Duck Confit and Sherry Pot Pie


(serves 6)
This Duck and Sherry Pie is a great festive dish for the winter season. It is quick and convenient as the Duck Confit (Cuisse de Canard Confit) will provide all the flavor that you’ll need. And the meat in Duck Confit already comes tender, so you don’t need to stew any duck for hours either. Furthermore the recipe resolves the issue of confit being overly salty by cooking the pie filling with sherry and sweet potatoes.     
 

IngredientsDuck Confit Filling

  1. Duck Leg Confit (2)
  2. Carrot (1 large)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Sweet Potato (2)
  5. Mushrooms (100g)
  6. Peas (1/2 cup)
  7. Milk (1 cup)
  8. Sherry
  9. Mustard
  10. Flour
  11. Potato (2) – for the crust

Preparation 

  1. Peel sweet potatoes and carrot. Cut the sweet potatoes and the mushrooms into 1 inch pieces. Dice the carrot and onion into 1/2 inch cubes or pieces.
  2. Debone the duck confit. This should be an easy task as the meat is practically falling off the bone anyway. Break up the duck meat into large chunks with two forks. Gently heat the duck confit in a pot, just enough to liquefy the lard the confit comes in.
  3. Spoon 6T of the duck oil into a pan and decant the rest into a bowl or jar for storage.
  4. Place the pan on a low fire and fry the onion and carrot bits until the onion softens.
  5. Sprinkle on 2T of flour and continue to stir fry for a minute. Slowly stir in 2/3 cup of milk, followed by 1/2 cup of sherry. Next add sufficient hot water to result in thin sauce. Add the sweet potatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Next add the mushroom, peas and duck to the pan. Sprinkle on 1t sugar, 1t mustard and 1t of black pepper. After simmering for a further 5 minutes your filling will be ready.
  7. For the crust, boil 2 large potatoes for 15 minutes, peel and then mash them with 1/3 cup milk and 2T of duck oil.
  8. Pour your pie filling into either a large baking dish or spoon into individual ramekins or gratin dishes. Cover with a layer of the mash. Bake in the oven at 180oC until the crests of the mash get brown.

Duck Confit Pie

Notes

  • For a traditional pastry type pie, skip step 7 & 8 and follow the procedure as described in my Savoury Pies Page.
  • You’ll notice that we didn’t need to use any salt, stock cubes or herbs. This is because confit is pre-marinated with herbs, garlic and a hefty amount of salt and then cooked in its own rendered lard as you will see from my Duck Confit Page, If we had used butter and flour to make the sauce instead, you’d need to add all kinds of other ingredients to get the taste right.
  • As you are not baking the duck confit directly to get a crispy skin, there is no need to buy ‘fresh’ duck confit from the grocer. Those that come in a can are perfectly fine for this recipe.
  • Some of my friends prefer to eat my duck filling with bread instead of inside a pie, as pictured at the top of the page. This is even more convenient.
  • If you would like a creamier pie, add 2T of sour cream in step 6.
 

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Mini Chicken Wellington


(serves 4)
This is the chicken version of Beef Wellington. Chicken needs to be fully cooked, so chicken wellington is flat and not cylindrical, and since fully cooked chicken will tend to be drier than medium rare beef, some chopped spinach is used instead of onion to boost moistness. Besides those 2 changes, this Chicken Wellington is pretty much the same as its beef cousin – meat covered with a generous amount of foie gras and mushrooms, baked inside a pastry shell.

Ingredients

  1. Chicken Fillet (500g)
  2. Mushrooms (150g)
  3. Spinach Leaves (100g = 1 box)
  4. Foie Gras Mousse (125g = 3/4 inch slab)
  5. Puff Pastry Sheets (2)
  6. Mascarpone (60g)
  7. Butter
  8. Basil
  9. Coriander Seed Powder
  10. Sherry

Preparation 

  1. Your chicken breast meat should preferably be of good quality(read as tender) and fresh. If not, and especially if you are using frozen chicken, you will need to brine the chicken first.
  2. In a bowl mix with 3T of olive oil, mix 1T sherry, 1t finely chopped basil, 1/2t coriander seed powder, 1/2t salt and 1/2t black pepper. If you brined your chicken, skip the salt. Cut the chicken breast into pieces that will fit the pastry shape of your choice and then marinate them in the oil.
  3. Stack the spinach and julienne the into short slices. Cut the mushrooms into small bits. With a knob of butter, fry the spinach and mushroom in a pan till the mushrooms have shrunk. Add the foie gras mousse, including the layer of fat that comes with it. Stir fry until the mousse melts.
  4. Pour the contents of the pan into a bowl and mix in 60g of mascarpone while it is still piping hot. Put the bowl in the fridge to cool. I will refer to this as the foie gras duxelles (althought this term is not 100% correct). 
  5. When the foie gras duxelles has cooled enough to solidify, take 2 frozen puff pastry sheets out of the freezer. Grease your baking tray with butter and preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF).
  6. When the puff pastry begins to soften, it is time to build your mini chicken wellingtons. If you know your way around puff pastry the triagular parcel method is preferred, you can make 4 individual parcels this way – one for each person. If not, the rectangular strudel style method is easier for beginners.
  7. Spoon a bed of foie gras duxelles onto the centre of the pastry, arrange the chicken pieces over this, and then cover the chicken with a second layer of the foie gras duxelles. Seal up the pastries and place them on the baking tray.
  8. For details and tips on using, folding and cooking puff pastry, refer to my savoury pies page
  9. Bake for about half an hour or until the pastry has puffed up nicely and is golden brown. After turning off the oven, allow your mini chicken wellingtons to cool for a bit in the oven with the oven door left open.

Notes

  • Because of the high temperatures used in this recipe, there is no point in using the more expensive types of foie gras, foie gras (50%) mousse is good enough. In fact, if you are feeling frugal, you can even use the canned pork liver pate from plumrose instead.
  • Using marscapone instead of cream helps makes your filling stiffer at room temperature, a very useful feature when working with pastry without a pie tray.
  • If you like this, you’ll probably appreciate my chiken pie recipe as well. 
 
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Posted by on September 15, 2012 in English, Poultry, Recipe

 

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Savoury Pies


(sufficient to make pies for 6-8 )
Pies are perfect for luncheons or informal dinners.
Since they consist of meat, vegetables and pastry, they are a meal in themselves and require no side dishes. I also adore the lovely combination of tender crispy puff pastry and a creamy hearty  filling, especially in cold weather. In this recipe, I’ll describe how to bake a generic pie, compatible with savoury fillings of different types.

Ingredients
  1. Puff Pastry Sheets (4)
  2. Egg (1)
  3. Butter
  4. Flour
  5. Pie Filling

For the pie filling, please refer to my Chicken Pie recipe, which is fully compatible with this recipe in terms of quantitiy.

Making pies is not as difficult as you might imagine, as long as you use the pre-made puff pastry sheets easily found in every supermarket. These come in frozen stacks of 9.5×9.5 inch (24cm) squares. Before I go on to the pies proper, let me discuss briefly how the pastry sheets should be handled. Keep in mind the following points.

  1. The pastry can only be manipulated successfully within a narrow temperature range, when it feels cool to the touch. If it is too cold, it is brittle and cracks, and if it is too warm, it becomes too soft.
  2. Have a wooden board (or table surface) lightly dusted with flour to work the pastry on.
  3. Thaw only one sheet at a time, the one you are working on.  The way to do this is to remove one sheet from the stack (they are seperated by cellophane) and warm it up with your hands on the working surface. Keep the remainder stacked to maintain their low temperature until it is their turn.

Traditional Pie Method

  1. To avoid the troublesome task of reshaping the pastry, procure square pie trays which are slightly smaller than the pastry sheets (as per the photo). I’d get those where the bottom comes off when you push from below, unless you intend to always serve your pies straight from the tray. For this recipe you will need 2 of these pie trays.
  2. Paint the inside of the pie trays with butter. If your tray is designed for open faced pies, the edges of the tray may be quite sharp and the weight of the pastry itself might cause it to be cut by the edges once the pastry warms. In this situation, cover the edges with thin strips of foil as a solution.
  3. When the pastry sheet has thawed enough, place it over the tray and allow it to sag into the tray. As it warms, nudge and stretch the pastry till it touches the entire interior surface of the tray. Leave a 3/4 inch margin of pastry over each side.
  4. Spoon your filling into the pie, making sure not to touch the margins. Place a second pastry sheet over the pie and allow it warm a bit as well. As this piece is left flat, it will be ‘bigger’ than the first sheet. Trim off the excess pastry with a pair of scissors such that the two pieces have the same edge.
  5. Press the edges together and then roll them inwards till the roll is just inside the pie tray. At the corners there will be surplus pastry, twist and cut these bits off. Use a pair of scissors and crimp the outer half of the rolled edges at quarter inch intervals to seal the pie properly and also as a form of decoration.
  6. Repeat to make the second pie.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF). This is essential as the oven needs to be very hot the moment the pie goes in or the pastry will not puff.
  8. Paint the pies with egg yolk to give it a nice finish when it is baked. Poke 4 evenly spaced holes in the pastry with a toothpick to prevent ballooning when the filling starts to boil.
  9. When the oven is ready, place your pies in. Baking should take roughly half an hour, but it varies with each oven.  When you can see that the pastry has risen but before it begins to brownrisen (roughly at After the 15 minutes) reduce the oven temperature to 160oC (320oF) to give the covered part of the pastry more time to cook. Inspect every few minutes after 25 minutes and decide when the pies done visually, they should be a dark golden brown.

Strudle Type Alternative

  1. Lets say you don’t have pie trays and are not inclined to buy any. You can still bake your pies on ordinary baking trays by folding them into rectangular strudle-like pies. This is the easiest method for beginners.
  2. Place your filling in the fridge till it thickens into a gelatin. This is crucial as warm filling will immediately deform your parcel, before you can seal it. Also, you wouldn’t want the filling to flow since the pastry edges won’t stick together properly if they get wet.
  3. Butter a baking tray and preheat the oven.
  4. Lay the pastry on a flour dusted surface.
  5. Spoon your filling into centre of the pastry in the shape of a rectangle.
  6. Lift the top and bottom edges of the pastry and join them by rolling the edges up, forming a ‘tube’ with the filling inside.
  7. Next, seal up the two ends in the same way. Using a pair of scissors, crimp the rolled edges to secure them.
  8. Place the pastry on the baking tray and gently press down to ensure the contents are distributed evenly.x
  9. Bake as per above – don’t forget to paint with yolk and to poke a hole to relieve pressure.

Triangular Parcel Alternative

  1. The triangular parcel method is more elegant and you can make smaller pies sized in individual portions. It is however more difficult and you shouldn’t attempt it till you are comfortable with the strudle method.
  2. Do everything in steps 2-4 above.
  3. Cut a pastry sheet diagonally into two equal triangles. Cut wax paper (or foil) into similar sized triangles.
  4. Position the wax paper over the pastry as shown and fold the pastry over on itself to form a smaller triangle. The wax paper will keep the  inside of the pastry triangle seperate until you add the filling.
  5. Roll up and seal the free edge by rolling and crimping with scissors. Then while holding the triangle like a cone, spoon your filling in. When the parcel is semi-full, pull out the wax paper and then seal the remaining openning the same way as before. Place this on a buttered baking tray.
  6. Repeat another seven times. Bake as per above 

Notes

  • If you really want to cheat, you can make pot-pies. Just put filling in ramekins and top off with puff pastry. Make sure no pressure is applied to the pastry at the rim of ramekins, by pressing some extra pastry into the outside of the ramekin. Also, remember that the ratio of pastry to filling is very low for this shortcut and adjust accordingly.
 
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Posted by on January 6, 2011 in English, Ingredients, Recipe

 

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Chicken Pie


(sufficient to make pies for 6-8 )
I have been making chicken pies the same way more or less for over twenty years and I’m confident this pie will not disappoint. This is probably one of my most orthodox recipes and I use just plain regular ingredients for the filling. The recipe’s secret lies in using the chicken in three parts, as you will see….
 
Ingredients (Pie Filling) 
  1. Chicken Thighs (8)
  2. Onion (1)
  3. Carrot (1)
  4. Green Peas (1/2 cup)
  5. Brown Mushrooms (8)
  6. Potato (1)
  7. Flour (2T)
  8. Butter (60g)
  9. Milk (1 cup)
  10. Chicken Cube (2)
  11. Woustershire Sauce
  12. Sherry
  13. Oregano

Preparation

  1. If you’re using canned peas (my preference), punch two holes in the can and let it drain upside. If you are using frozen peas, defrost them ahead of time.
  2. Cut the skin off your chicken thighs. For the most part the skin will come off easily from the rest of the thigh with a bit of tugging, just make small cuts here and there where the skin is attached to the meat. Debone and cut the meat into bite sized morsels. Marinate the meat with 0.5t of salt, 1T of oregano, 1T of Sherry.
  3. Boil the bones uncovered in 2 cups of water with 2 chicken stock cubes. The aim is to reduce this to 1 cup over time. Peel the potato and cut it into four slices. Boil the potato slices in the chicken stock for 5 minutes to pre-cook them.
  4. Fry the chicken skins on low heat in a pan with a dash of oil until they becomes crispy. While the fat beneath the skin is being melted, dice the onion and carrot. Once the skins are crispy, pick them out and throw them into the boiling stock pot. Fry the onion and carrot in the drippings (there should be a lot) in the same frying pan to infuse them with chicken essence. When the onion becomes limp, scoop out the carrot and onion pieces into a big bowl.
  5. Next we fry the chicken meat (in the same pan). Heat up the pan with 2T of oil till it is very hot, then throw in the chicken pieces and stir fry till the chicken is cooked on all its surfaces.  When the chicken is done, place the pieces in the bowl of cooked vegetables, together with any drippings.
  6. Use a bigger sauce pan for the next step. Melt 1/4 block of butter in the pan under low heat and then sprinkle in 2T of flour. Stir fry till the mixture begins darkening. Stirring the entire time on low heat , add 1 cup of milk. To avoid lumping, you should pour in only a bit of milk  at a time and hold off on adding the next batch of milk until the roux or sauce has absorbed all the milk. When the milk used up, continue the process with the reduced chicken stock (without the skin and bones).
  7. You should have a thin white sauce at this stage. Stir in the chicken, onions, carrots and peas while you simmer on low heat. Dice up the mushrooms and partially boiled potatoes and add those as well. Add 3T Sherry, 2T woustershire, 1T black pepper, 1T oregano, 1t sugar and o.5t cardamon while you continue simmering to thicken the sauce.
  8. When the pie filling is at the right consistency turn off the heat. Add a pinch of salt repeatedly, tasting after each time, till you are satisfied with the taste. Remember, since you will be eating the filling with crust, the filling should have a more savoury taste that you would otherwise feel comfortable with.

For the rest of the Chicken Pie recipe, please refer to my Savoury Pies page.

Notes

  • This is almost exactly the same way you make Chicken A La King sauce. The only difference is that you’d use capsicum instead of carrots and onions, and you’d drop the peas and potatoes.
  • It takes a long time to stew the skin till it is edible. If it is not discarded or cooked seperately, the skin will end up as clumps of slippery fat and gelatine in your filling. 
  • Stir frying the chicken seperately in hot oil is important as this will remove any frozen aftertaste from the chicken.
  • You can use mixed Italian herbs in place of oregano if you like.
 
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Posted by on January 3, 2011 in English, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe

 

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