Tuesday, October 18, 2011

kids cookery : chicken pasty

There are many recipes for a variety of medieval pastries that use meat fillings.  They are each unique- some savory, some sweet- but in general, you can think of them as the medieval version of the pot pie, just without all that unhealthy gravy.

Pasties are a fun medieval food for kids because of their very nature- the idea of little dough balls filled with delicious food is pretty cool.  The trick is to let them know what is inside, especially picky eaters.  An even better option, to seal the deal, is to let them taste the filling before you place it in the dough- so they can dictate whether it's good or needs more of something.  Don't go overboard with medieval flavor combinations that modern palate's aren't used to.

The recipe below uses chicken, but any meat will do.  White meats takes better to the process than red meats, but it's all in how you prepare it.  If you and your children are adventurous, try experimenting with other ingredients, like fish.  The basic recipe below uses inexpensive ingredients, so if it doesn't quite work out, you're not out a hefty chunk of change.

Pasties also travel well, and don't necessarily need to be served warm (just be sure to adhere to safe food practices- they should still be transported in a cooler, and not left sitting out too long).  They are certainly a make-ahead food, but you can place them in a dutch oven over a fire (or camp stove) to warm them up if you think they'd taste better that way.

The following recipe is portioned for older children and adults, but you can make smaller portions for younger children just by using smaller pieces of dough and smaller spoonfuls of filling.  One of the large pasties below is a serving.  You can also substitute the raw meat for canned meat- just make sure that you drain it well.

To make chicken pasties for 4, you'll need:
  • 1 tube of prepared croissant dough (like Pillsbury)
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed into about 1/2" pieces, or smaller
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 green bell pepper (optional), chopped
  • cream cheese (about half a regular Philadelphia brand block) softened
  • garlic powder to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • (seasoning for chicken if desired - I recommend a small amount of powder douce)
  • Butter or olive oil for cooking
In a skillet on medium heat, cook the onion and seasoned (if using) chicken with butter/oil.  When the chicken is mostly cooked on the outside (though not yet cooked through), toss in the green pepper, garlic and pepper.  Stir often until the onion is transparent and the chicken is no longer raw.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.  Open the croissant dough and create four squares (using two triangles each, pushed together to connect them), and lay out on a non-stick baking sheet.  Cut off patties of cream cheese and press them with your fingers to flatten them out.  Place one flattened patty on each dough square. Divide the chicken mixture into four parts and place one on each dough square (the dough will stretch some, but don't over fill- you may have some extra filling.)  Place another flattened patty of cream cheese on the top of each mound of filling.  One at a time, wrap the dough up around the filling, making sure it's well sealed all around (they actually turn out better if the top is a little messy-looking) and place equally apart on the baking sheet.  Use the baking instructions from the croissant dough package, and add 2 or 3 minutes to account for the filling.  The pastry should be golden brown and the cheese slightly melted (but not soupy!).  Serve forth immediately or refrigerate and serve later (up to 2 days)..
Original Recipe from Allrecipes.com with my modifications.

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