Eyes on the pies

Keep some pas­try in the freezer for these quick and easy, com­fort­ing au­tumn feeds.

Taranaki Daily News - - Food - FOOD SARAH TUCK

Now that day­light sav­ing is fin­ished and the sun is set­ting ear­lier, ( plus, of course, the wild, win­try weather), I am in the mood for some in­dul­gent au­tum­nal fare.

These two recipes are sim­ple to put to­gether, es­pe­cially as both use store-bought pas­try to make life a lit­tle eas­ier.

The chicken pies are packed with ten­der chicken thigh meat, sea­soned with the un­mis­tak­able, some­how fes­tive, herby flavour of sage, salty ba­con and sweet leeks.

The short­crust pas­try makes a nice change from puff or flaky here, giv­ing the pies a slightly shiny ex­te­rior, more like what you would ex­pect from an em­panada.

The chicken fill­ing is ut­terly de­li­cious (and I would quite hap­pily serve it stirred through long pasta), but can be sub­sti­tuted for any left­overs – spaghetti bolog­nese mince, chilli con carne, even mashed pota­toes loaded with caramelised onions and blue cheese would work.

Mean­while, the wal­nut frangi­pane plum tart is the per­fect cheat for when you don’t have the right tin, time or in­cli­na­tion to make pas­try.

The wal­nut frangi­pane makes a change from the tra­di­tional al­mond but, of course, ground al­monds (or hazel­nuts) would also work well. Feel free to play around with the fruit, too – any re­main­ing stone fruit avail­able would be fine, but well drained (and de-stoned) tinned fruit is good, too.

Whether you choose to serve the pas­try con­coc­tions for af­ter­noon tea, af­ter sport, for din­ner or with drinks, they are just right for the chang­ing sea­son.

Chicken, leek and ba­con pies

Prepa­ra­tion: 45 min­utes Cook­ing: 66-76 min­utes Makes: 16

❚ 500g chicken thighs

❚ 1 leek

❚ 25g but­ter

❚ 150g ba­con or pancetta, chopped

❚ 1 small onion, chopped

❚ 2 ta­ble­spoon chopped fresh sage leaves

❚ 2 ta­ble­spoons plain flour

❚ 1⁄2 cup whole milk

❚ 3 ta­ble­spoons cream

❚ 2 tea­spoons seed mus­tard

❚ 1⁄4 cup grated tasty cheese

❚ Sea salt and freshly ground black pep­per

❚ 4 sheets (600g) ready-rolled savoury short­crust pas­try (I used Ed­monds)

❚ 1 egg

❚ 3 tea­spoons sesame seeds

Trim the ex­cess fat from the chicken thighs and chop into 2-3cm pieces. Trim the leek, halve length­ways, and cut into 1cm half cir­cles.

Heat the but­ter in a large heavy­bot­tomed saucepan and cook the ba­con for five min­utes. Add the onion, chopped leek and sage and cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, for 10 min­utes. Add the chicken meat, stir well, cover and cook for 10 min­utes.

Sprin­kle over the flour, stir to com­bine, and cook for one minute, then add the milk, two ta­ble­spoons of cream, and the seed mus­tard. Cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, for a fur­ther 10-15 min­utes un­til the sauce is thick­ened and smooth and the chicken is cooked through. Re­move from the heat, stir through the cheese and sea­son to taste with salt and pep­per. Re­frig­er­ate un­til cold.

Cut four 11cm cir­cles from one sheet of pas­try and line two oven trays with bak­ing pa­per. Hold a pas­try cir­cle in your hand and place about two ta­ble­spoons of chicken fill­ing in the cen­tre. Fold the pas­try sides up to en­close and press the edges to­gether.

Place on a tray and re­peat with re­main­ing pas­try and fill­ing – you should have about 16 mini pies. Whisk the egg with the re­main­ing cream and brush over pies, sprin­kle with sesame seeds, then chill while the oven pre­heats to 190 de­grees Cel­sius. Cook the pies for 30-35 min­utes un­til golden. Serve ‘‘as-is’’, or with seed mus­tard or a good tomato or apri­cot chut­ney.

Wal­nut frangi­pane plum tart

Prepa­ra­tion: 15 min­utes Cook­ing: 37-42 min­utes Serves: 6-10 (de­pend­ing on serv­ing size)

❚ 60g but­ter, soft­ened

❚ 1⁄4 cup caster sugar (plus 1 tea­spoon for sprin­kling)

❚ 2 eggs

❚ 1 cup wal­nuts

❚ 1 ta­ble­spoon flour

❚ 160g ready rolled, but­ter puff pas­try (I used Pane­ton)

❚ 2 tea­spoons milk

❚ 5 plums, halved and stones re­moved

Pre­heat the oven to 200C, and line an oven tray with bak­ing pa­per. Put the but­ter, sugar, 1 egg, wal­nuts, and flour in a food pro­ces­sor and whiz to form a chunky paste.

Cut the pas­try into a rec­tan­gle 14cm x 28cm and place on the pre­pared tray.

Mark a 1cm bor­der around the edges, en­sur­ing that you don’t cut all the way through. Use the tines of a fork to prick in­side the bor­der well.

Whisk the re­main­ing egg with the milk and brush around the bor­der.

Bake for 12 min­utes then re­move from the oven and re­duce the oven tem­per­a­ture to 190C.

Use a ta­ble­spoon to flat­ten the puffed up pas­try in the mid­dle, leav­ing you with a pas­try shell. Spoon the wal­nut fill­ing into the shell and even out with the back of a ta­ble­spoon. Place the plums, cut­side down on to the fill­ing, and bake for 25-30 min­utes or un­til the pas­try is golden and the fill­ing is set. Al­low to cool for 15 min­utes be­fore serv­ing.

This can be served sim­ply as it is or dusted with ic­ing sugar and served with vanilla bean ice­cream, nat­u­ral yo­ghurt or whipped cream.

❚ Recipes, food styling and pho­tog­ra­phy by Sarah Tuck

SARAH TUCK

These chicken, leek and ba­con pies fol­lowed by the wal­nut frangi­pane plum tart are de­li­cious and warm­ing for these colder days of au­tumn.

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