Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Chicken and Vegetables Pie

I like pies. I have mentioned this before. So finally I shook lazyness off and made myself a nice, steaming, buttery, flaky pie. I'm just SO enterprising.

Shut up.

Deboned and cleaned chicken chopped in medium and small pieces.
Vegetables of choice--cut, peeled, sliced, shelled. As required.
Onions -- 1, small.
Butter -- 50gms (frozen and cut into little pieces).
Flour/maida -- 3 cups (you can use as much as you like, of course, provided you use more butter).
Salt, sugar.
Optionals: Garlic and green chilies -- pasted. Ground black pepper. Sour cream. Li'l white wine.

Now let's see how may pictures we can generate from that tiny req. list.

First, the filling. In a wok/korai or skillet or frying pan, heat a little butter. If it's a age-worn thinning-bottom steel korai like mine, beware. Taking your eyes off will make the butter char (and impart a lovely smokey flavour to the dish). First, in butter, fry chopped mushrooms. Keep aside when done.

Now, in the same piece of butter-charred kitchenware, heat a teaspoon or two of sunflower/canola oil and fry the rest of the chunky ingredients in succession. Till they're all nicely browned. Exceptions: ingredients like peas. In other words, make your common sense earn its keep.

Drain and keep aside in a bowl. In the same p. of. k-ware, heat another teaspoon of oil. Move it around. When the already-greased bottom is even more greasy, drop in the sliced onions. Fry till all of it turns transparent and some of it browns. Now add the optional garlic/green chilli paste and fry till the garlic browns lightly.

Bring back the veggies. Add the ones your common sense held back last time. Mix thoroughly. Add water. Add salt and sugar, plus herbs/spices of choice. Cover and let cook.

When the meat and vegetables are tender and the gravy hasn't thickened, scoop them out and keep in a bowl to prevent it becoming unrecognisable fragments (or a gloopy blob). At this point, the gravy can be thickened with a few dollops of sour cream, or by boiling off water. When the gravy is thick enough, pour it over the vegetables and chicken.

I skipped cream and used a roux. Which I tried to make over an unlit oven, leading to initial droplets of buttery flour all over the wok.

Pour the thickened gravy with chunks into this. You might consider keeping the filling in the fridge for a day. A day had passed between me cooking the filling and me making the pies, and most of my gravy had been absorbed by the chicken and cauliflowers, leading to a delicious taste-explosion in my mouth with every substantial bite.

Gravy-absorbed chicken and vegetables

Said chicken and vegetables into the roux

Add a little water if you want a thick soupy feel. After all, this will be cooked further inside a pie, and you don't want them drying out. This is the consistency I had at the end.

The filling is now done. Now, I know Dea_Chan said she gets puff pastry for the pie crust, and I'm sure I'll get some in Calcutta if I really looked, but I'm more inclined to spend ten minutes making my own pastry dough, right in my own kitchen, in my tattered blue dress and slippers. No running around for me, thank you.

Pastry/pie crust:
Mix the flour, salt and sugar. Say, three pinches of salt and a tablespoon of granular sgar (less if powdered). Now upend the bowl of frozen butter pieces onto this. Mix them quickly with your fingers (the more you touch, the more the butter will melt) and then attack it with a fork, cutting into the floury butter till it looks all crumbly.

Going with the spirit of not melting the butter, we now add some water. Ice water. In batches, little by little. And then using the fok further we mix it in slowly with each little bit of water, till it's holding together. Then we use our hands to give it a basic roundish shape.


Rolling pin to beat the dough down

Rolled-out dough stretched out on a bowl


Ladle some thickened soupy filling into the bowl. Cover with the remaining pie crust dough to make a lid, Seal. Make a few holes or gashes on the surface of the lid. Bake in a preheated oven at 250C till your place is redolent with the aroma of meltinng, toasted butter cubes. Keep checking if the gravy inside is bubbling (you'll see through the holes at the top) and the top crust is browning.

The bowl-pie

The larger dish

The too-small top crust :-(

Taken care of!

Once it's nicely browned, let it cool for a few minutes. Tuck in!


Dea-chan said...

Oh Rimi, that looks so damn tasty! I wish I could eat through the monitor...

I'm a little leery of your sugar in the crust, but I'm sure it tastes fab. I also love the differences in what veggies we feel "belong" in a pot pie! Or were they just the veggies on hand?

Rimi said...

Ooh I love the sugar! See, I avoid most sweet things, but then go add sugar to everything floury I make. I can't be stopped! It's one of those things.

As for the filling -- I used the cauliflower 'cause it was there. But I used the peas (they're lovely and slightly sweet at this time of the year) and mushrooms because I love both. And hated both as a child, so I guess I'm making up for lost time :D

Normally it'd just be carrots and potatoes. But I'm not fond of carrots and we eat so much potato anyway I wanted to skip.

Magically Bored said...

You know, pastry is actually so difficult to make. There's this certain technique to mixing the stuff together, which if you don't follow, the pastry comes out terribly flaky. I made tarts once, they weren't too bad, luckily I managed the pastry pretty well. Since then, though, I haven't tried again, but this blogpost inspires me somewhat. :)

Rimi said...

Jah, not that hard! Try kor abar, and let me know how it went?

And have a lovely new year Tuna!

Sue said...

Thanks for helping me figure out what has been annoying me about my pie crust -- too much butter. It's lovely and flaky but annoying as hell to work with!

Rimi said...

Yes! Too much butter will melt and get sticky and make the dough lose elasticity and stick to the marble slab or the chaki. Most annoying.

On the other hand, small amounts of butter as I use always makes me yearn for more :(