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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Chicken, Leek, and Mushroom Mini Pies

Chicken, Leek, and Mushroom Mini Pies
by Victoria Challancin

Tomorrow is Mexico's Independence Day.  Usually, we have a three-day weekend, or puente ("bridge") filled with parades, barbecues, chiles en nogada (stuffed poblano chiles with meat and fruit covered in a walnut-cream sauce with pomegranate seeds), El Gritoand fireworks--lots of fireworks.  Living in the "Cradle of Independence," (i.e. the towns/cities of Dolores Hidalgo, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato) where the first battles were fought and where independence was born, this celebration, like all Mexican celebrations, is particularly festive, colorful, and full of life.  This year, however, the festivities have been dampened by rain.  Rain, rain, and more rain.  Much-needed rain, perhaps, but rain nevertheless.

With Tropical Storm Manuel battering Acapulco and the West Coast and Hurricane Ingrid blasting Veracruz and the East, massive amounts of rain are flooding most of the republic, with San Miguel caught in the middle.  Far enough away to be safe from the winds, we nevertheless are experiencing extensive rain.  And severely dampened spirits--and trust me, it is hard to dampen the Mexican sense of joy and celebration.  Even my dogs have a case of the mulligrubs.

Hunkered down inside, dry and warm, my thoughts are turning toward comfort food, a blog post, and a recipe I made recently in a cooking class for Mexican students...Chicken Pot Pies.  Alright, they have been re-invented and renamed Chicken, Leek, and Mushroom Mini Pies and have been given a whiff of Frenchness, a soupçon of sophistication, but Chicken Pot Pies they are.  Nothing will disguise that.  Chicken Pot Pies filled with a wine-enhanced, cream-enriched melange of vegetables enveloped in a crust of puff pastry, made mini size in a muffin tin.  Yum.

It's almost embarrassing for a "professional" cook to admit to a love for chicken pot pies, but I do. Even the less than stellar frozen versions from childhood still hold a certain appeal.  Yep, it is embarrassing.  But to me, chicken pot pies will always be comfort food.  And this recipe is lovely--and perfect for such weather.

For a real Mexican treat, try my recipe for Chiles en Nogada, the National Dish of Mexico.  The green of the pepper, the white of the walnut-cream sauce, and the red of the pomegranate seeds lovingly represent the three colors of the Mexican flag.  The filling is made with a picadillo, or ground meat mixture that includes dried and fresh fruit--with candied cactus being the magic ingredient!

 The leek and mushroom filling

 In the muffin tin

Cook's Notes:  This recipe is perfect as written.  I added a bit more garlic...well, because I am half-Italian after all and just can't help myself.  Note that this dish can be used as a main dish or an appetizer.  Use a regular muffin tin, as I did, or mini-muffin size, just make certain to chop all ingredients even smaller.

Recipe:  Chicken, Leek, and Mushroom Mini Pies
(Recipe from The Illustrated Quick Cook,
Makes 12 regular muffin-sized pies or 24 mini-muffin sized pies

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped (2 1/2 - 3 cups, white and green parts)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
8 oz (225g) mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 to 1/14 lb (500g) skinless boneless chicken breasts, diced
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 sheets read-rolled puff pastry
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mixed green leaves and herbs, for serving
Tomato relish, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).  Brush a 24-cup mini muffin pan with olive oil (or use a regular 12-cup muffin tin).  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the leek, and cook until wilted.  Add the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the mushrooms, and coon for another 5 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium.  Stir in the diced chicken, thyme, lemon zest, and wine.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through.  Add the cream, and season with salt and pepper.  Continue to cook for 5 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken.

For mini-muffin sized pies, cut 24 21/2-inch circles (6 cm) from the puff pastry.  Line each muffin cup with a pastry circle, and spoon in the chicken mixture.  Top each cup with a 2-Inch (5cm) circle cut from the remaining puff pastry.  Use large circles for regular a muffin pan.  Brush the tops with the egg, and slit with a knife.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.  Invert the pans onto a wire rack.  To serve, scatter some mixed leaves and/or herb leaves over the top.  Serve with a tomato relish, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Parting Shots:  Berber "Figs"
 Called "Berber Figs" in Morocco, cactus fruit is often sold from carts on the streets.

In Mexico, both the cactus paddle (penca) and the fruit (tuna) are eaten throughout the country, but in Morocco, only the fruit is commonly consumed.  This display is from a vender's cart in Marrakech to show that the fruits are actually from a cactus and not a fig tree!  Can you tell I am gearing up to send out my newest Moroccan itinerary?

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Please ask permission before using photos or text.  Thanks!


Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I know rain is welcomed when it comes in normal amounts but I certainly do hope the rain doesn't cause problems since it appears you are going to have lots. I have a soft spot for chicken pot pies and yours sounds good. I'm sure your students loved the dish.

Eha said...

These look most appetizing even for a normally non-baking gal! Methinks 'chicken pot pie' is another of those US beloved dishes like mac'n'cheese which may be not made so much elsewhere. But love the filling, so shall try when I get into a cooking mood again :) ! Hope the weather does not bring about much damage: I hate the wind in these cases, and, as you say, at least up your way there is not so much of that! Just have to put a thinking cap on for alternative festivities!!!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I hope that the rain lets up soon! I can imagine how it plays with the moods. And I too love the comfort of a chicken pot pie :D

Joan Nova said...

Yum -- I like the idea of making dishes like this in single servings, not only for presentation for a group dinner, but also they're easily freezable so there's always a meal available and one can be popped out of the freezer at any time for a single lunch.

Good luck with the storms. We've had an unusual amount of rain in FL since Spring but, so far, lucky with no hurricanes.

Hotly Spiced said...

I heard on the news this morning that there have been deaths in Mexico due to flooding. I do hope you and your family are safe. I love chicken and leek pies and these would be a fantastic appetiser or great for pass-around food at a party. I love the look of those figs - never seen any like that before xx

Nagi@RecipeTinEats said...

I love your chicken mini pies. It looks appetizing and I love all the flavors it has. And I was interested with the photos of figs. Haven't seen something like those before :)

Kerala spices said...

Looks great. Spice Store

Linda W said...

If you want to cook meats regularly, I suggest making your own spice blend and store this seasoning mix in your kitchen for future use. I used to buy spices online from good brands, or you can also go a store.

Alexander Melvin said...

Nice blog..! I really loved reading through this article... Thanks for sharing such an amazing post with us and keep blogging...Spices are used as a seasoning, adding flavor and color to a dish. I always used to buy spices wholesale from good brands.