15 October 2011

Spicy chicken & bacon pasties .. or tarts, in this case.

Why "tarts", you may ask?

Well, it's because the art of pleating a pasty completely deserted me.  Four times over.

Exhibit A
Normally, I'm pretty good at pleating a pasty - although I usually do sideways pleats, as opposed to "straight across the top" pleats.  I think, next time I make these pasties - and there will be a next time - I'll stick to what I know and go for sideways pleating.  Oh, and I might very well remember to cut my fingernails next time too.  How anyone with long fingernails ever gets pastry to stay together without their fingernails cutting half moon shapes into the pastry, is beyond me.  I certainly can't!

As a consequence, my pasties burst asunder in the oven and turned themselves into boat-shaped tarts.  See Exhibit A, alongside.  Fortunately, it didn't matter overly much (perhaps a little dry in places) as the contents began life fairly moist and the risen edges of the pasties obviously protected the contents from over cooking.

The original recipe (which you can see here) called for a ready cooked chicken breast, but I didn't have one of those.  I did, however, have a raw chicken breast so I pan-fried it and left it to cool before doing anything else.  Personally, I think that this approach saved the chicken component from being over dry, as I stopped cooking the chicken just slightly before I would ordinarily have done.  This left the meat still slightly pink, which was obviously cooked out by the baking that the pastry received.  Ingenious, eh?

Well they didn't look too bad ...

In addition, I also tinkered about with the original recipe in that instead of using three spring onions, I used half a sliced leek and one small shallot.  I suspect that doing this gave a lot more moistness to the mixture (from the leek) and boosted the gentle onion flavour (care of the shallot).  Sometimes I find spring onions to be a bit harsh.

I also put way more bacon in than the recipe said.  After all, two rashers of streaky bacon rather depends on how big your rashers are, doesn't it.  Mine were teensy wee little things (supermarket bacon, in this instance), so I wound up using half a pack.

As a consequence, I suspect I had rather more "middle" to my pasties than was originally intended.  However, I reckon that the next time I make them, I can easily make five out of the same ingredients, so that's the way to go.

I served ours, as you can see, with a salad.  I'm not entirely convinced that a salad was the right thing for them, as they seemed to need something more robust.  I might try them, next time, with baked beans and something like Nigella's Rapid Roastini's or maybe hash browns or sweet potato wedges.  They do need something juicy (which the baked beans would provide), but because of the complex nature of their contents, need something fairly bland beside that.

So that's a work in progress - and if you try this recipe, perhaps you could report back on what you served them with and how well you feel they went together.  I'd be interested to know, as this is definitely one of those recipes that doesn't suit what immediately comes to mind!

As for the flavours, well they're very acceptable indeed.  Hubby wasn't too keen on his to begin with, but the flavour develops as you eat your way through the pasty and, by the end, he was ready to demolish the leftover one.  Now, if I tell you that he didn't get to eat it all on his own, but son & heir had the other half, that will indicate just how nice these are.  I suspect they'd be perfect picnic food and will behave in exactly the same way that a Cornish Pasty does - except with more chilli!

SPICY CHICKEN & BACON PASTIES  (serves 4, with one each)

Ingredients :

1 skinless & boneless chicken breast
1 tbsp olive oil
125g streaky bacon, chopped
1 large potato (about 250g total weight), peeled and sliced on the mandolin
1 small red chilli, deseeded if necessary and finely chopped
a small, or half a, leek - sliced
a small shallot, sliced
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
375g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
2 tbsp milk or 1 beaten egg.

Method :

1.  Heat oven to 200deg C (fan).

2.  Place the chicken breast in between two pieces of cling film and bash it with something heavy (a rolling pin, for ease!) until it is thin and flat.

3.  Take a large frying pan, add the olive oil and fry the chicken breast, seasoning each side as you go.  Remove from the pan when there is still a little pinkness left in the middle of the meat.  Set aside to cool.

4.  Fry the bacon over a medium heat until it starts to release its fat.

3.  Add the potato, turn up the heat and fry, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and the potato just underdone.

4.  Add the chilli, leeks and shallot and cook and stir until the leeks are softened and the shallot transparent.

5.  Season with pepper and add a pinch of salt, then set aside to cool.

6.  Take the chicken and shred it into long thin strips.  Once the bacon mixture is cool, add to the chicken and stir to combine.

7.  Roll out the pastry until you can cut 5 tea plate size rounds from it.

8.  Lift circles onto a baking tray.

9.  Spoon the filling into the middle of each circle.  Brush the edges of the pastry with the milk or egg, then bring the sides up to the middle (or one side to the other, if you prefer your pasties laid on their sides), pinching the pastry together to make a pasty.

10.  Brush with a little more milk or egg and bake for 15 minutes until golden.





  1. They look great. Real, rustic and tasty too.
    Nice one xx

  2. Considering they weren't supposed to look like that at all, but be all pleated and neat and pasty-shaped, they came out pretty cute looking, I thought! Sheer luck, mind you. :)


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