Chicken in pastry with honey red sauce

I love this recipe.  It’s so darn easy and tastes great.  Also there’s something a bit magic about creating pies.  It’s the crisp, golden structure which makes people think you’re a genuinely talented cook.  Little do they know….

Let’s start with that long-standing drug – alcohol, in prime 1970s form:

old mum drinks 2

They’re not my hands, incidentally.  Old Mum got there before I did.  But don’t worry – I’ll get my own back.  She’ll be mashing the potatoes later.

And now to the ingredients – a bit more pricey than spag bol but still quite a steal!

3 sheets of puff pastry – $5.50 for 6 sheets:

pastry packet 2

Don’t be intimidated by the “serving suggestion” – your pies will look much better than that!

Chicken breasts – $12.14 for 867 grams:

chicken packet

I don’t know why I had to posh up with the chicken.  I prefer to do this recipe with 3 breasts totalling 800 grams, ie half a breast per pie.  For some reason, only the free range brigade offer a packet of this kind.  Fear not – the recipe is just as good with 600 grams of cut price, battery raised joy!

3/4 cup of stuffing mix – $2.45 per packet:

stuff mix packet

Fresh rosemary – 3 sprigs – can’t price this one I’m afraid.  I stole it from Old Mum’s herb garden:

rosemary

4 dried apricots – $7.50 per packet:

apricots packet

1 x med brown onion – approx $0.50:

onion whole

2 tbsp honey – $4.00 per bottle:

honey jar

3 tbsp tomato ketchup – $1.50 per bottle:

Tomato ketchup

3 unwashed potatoes – approx $1.50:

raw potatoes

2 cups of frozen peas – $2.00 per packet:

peas packet

Now let’s get cooking!

I’ll be frank with you.  When you do this recipe for the first few times, it’s better to make the sauce initially and then proceed to the pies, peas and potatoes.  This is because the sauce involves a wee bit of timing and judgement.  Once you have it all down to a fine art, you’ll be able to do the sauce while the pies cook in the oven.

So, the sauce.

Step 1 – chop onion finely:

onion choppd

Step 2 – pour a small amount of olive oil into saucepan.  Put on high heat.  Place onion on top.  Cook onion, stirring regularly, until it softens:

place onion 2

Step 3 – add honey and stir:

spoon honey

The eagle eyed reader will notice I’m using a different jar from the twist and squeeze model shown above.  Old Mum wouldn’t let me use the new honey until the open jar was finished.  I guess it’s a wartime rationing thing.

Step 4 – add tomato sauce and stir:

spoon tom sauce

Step 5 – maintain on high heat, stirring near constantly as mixture comes to boil.  If it’s boiling over, reduce heat slightly.  Cook for at least 10 minutes until mixture becomes a fairly thick syrup:

reduce sauce 2

Step 6 – pour sauce into strainer, holding strainer over measuring jug.  Press onion down against the bottom of the strainer so that onion juices flow into jug:

strain onion

Step 7 – You’ll only be able to strain some of the onion at any one time.  So once you have squeezed out some of the onion, shift it aside.  Manoeuvre more onion into place at the bottom of the strainer and repeat. It takes a bit of initiative and dexterity (not my strong suits I’m afraid):

strain onion 2

Now, onto the pies!

Step 8 – chop rosemary finely:

rosemary chopped

Step 9 – chop apricots finely:

bowl apricots

Step 10 – place stuffing mix in bowl.  Add rosemary and apricots.  Add water and stir into a paste:

sutffing mix bowl

Put to one side.

Step 11 – Preheat oven to 180 degrees and thaw pastry.  Arrange three sheets side by side.  Cut each sheet in half:

cutting pastry

Step 12 – cut chicken into 6 portions (approx half a breast each).  Place each portion on its half sheet of pastry, close to the front, but leaving a 2 cm border on the nearest sides:

placing breast

Step 13 – place 1 spoon of mix on top of each portion of chicken.  Press down lightly:

pressing mix 8

Step 14 – add pepper to taste:

adding pepper

Step 15 – add salt to taste:

adding salt

Step 16 – fold pastry back over each portion of chicken / stuffing:

folding pastry

Step 17 – indent (or, if you prefer the term, corrugate) front and sides of each pie with a fork:

indent pastry

Step 18 – cut away a small amount of pastry (ie no more than 0.5 cm) from front and sides of each pie:

cut edges

Step 19 – use knife to cut front corners of each pie, leaving curved edges:

curved edges

Step 20 – pierce top of each pie 4 times with a fork:

perforate pie

Step 21 – spray an oven tray with olive oil:

spray pan

Step 22 – arrange pies on tray.  Place in oven for 40 minutes:

arrange pies 3

Step 23 – wash potatoes:

wash potatoes 3

Step 24 – peel potatoes:

peel potatoes 2.JPG

Step 25 – chop potatoes coarsely (ie into relatively large pieces – although feel free to swear while doing so):

chopped potatoes

Step 26 – boil potatoes and, a little later, boil peas:

boil peas and potatoes

Step 27 – Strain peas.  Strain potatoes, return to saucepan and mash.  Old Mum did this.  She adds milk, butter, salt and pepper.  It’s quite yummy.  If you go down that path, you add the extras after you mash and then stir.  It helps, while doing so, to return the mash to heat – otherwise the extras might make it cold.  I’ve condensed this to one photograph – I’m feeling hungry!

mash potatoes

Step 28 – remove pies from oven.  Aren’t they magnificent:

remove pies 3

Step 29 – serve each pie with mash and peas.  After reheating honey red sauce, pour over each pie.  Don’t drown the entire plate in the stuff, RSL gravy style:

ready 3

Step 30 – return to wine.  Unlike the spag bol, these pies won’t freeze well.  So enjoy for dinner the next night too.  There may even be some wine left!

old mum drinks 2

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