Bite size comfort pies

Ah, pies. Surely the jewel in the crown of all comfort foods – with rich, buttery pastry, a creamy packed filling – appropriate for almost any occasion, pies are pretty darn special.

This is my take on the classic chicken and mushroom pie – and it’s a winner. You’ll be making your own pastry- but once you’ve done it, you’ll never go back to store bought again. Made with sour cream and butter, it’s rich, flaky and decadent. Filled with a thick sauce (again, with sour cream) and packed with chicken, these are lovely enough to serve at a dinner party, and economical enough to make for school lunch boxes or picnics. Whoever you serve them to, they’re guaranteed to be impressed. While you can make one large pie, I love serving them individually.

Chicken pies

I chose Eat Art’s Hawaiian Red Alaea Salt – a beautiful salt with volcanic charcoal and smoky undertone, it is not only a fantastic salt to cook with, but also one you’ll proudly take to the table for guests to use.

Ingredients:
For the chicken pie:
2 tbsp butter
3 chicken breasts, on the bone
1 carrot, sliced
1 stick of celery, sliced
150g mushrooms of your choice, quartered
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
50g  butter
4 heaped tbsp plain flour
200ml milk
125ml sour cream
100ml  chicken stock
2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
Eat. Art Hawaiian Red Alaea Salt to taste
White pepper to taste

Hawaiian Red Alaea

For the pastry:
125ml sour cream
250g plain flour
200g unsalted butter chilled

Method:
To make the pastry, dice the butter, then pulse with the flour in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to form into a ball. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 20 minutes, or until ready to use.

Place the chicken in a large pot with the celery and carrot, and top with water so the chicken is just covered. Place on a medium / low heat – with bubbles barely forming on the surface – and allow to simmer gently for 30 – 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked.

While the chicken is cooking, fry the mushrooms, garlic, thyme and onions in 2 tbsp butter, until light brown. Once the chicken is cooked, remove the skin and take the meat off the bones, shredding into small pieces. Reserve 100ml of the cooking liquid for the sauce.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, stir in the flour and cook for a minute, until thick. Add the milk, slowly, constantly whisking until incorporated and smooth. Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper. Continue whisking and increase the heat to medium / high until the sauce is cooked and thick. Once cooked, stir in the sour cream. Add the chicken and mushroom mixture and stir through.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is between 3 – 5mm thick. Cut in circles (using a glass is sometimes easier) and line each of the holes of a muffin tin with the pastry, leaving a little extra at the top of each. Fill each hole generously with the pie mixture. Using a smaller glass, cut circles to top each pie, squeezing the top if each pie with a fork to seal. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the tops are a deep golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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