Chicken, Chorizo and Pepper Pies

These chicken, chorizo and pepper pies are ideal straight from the oven or packed up for a picnic. A dash of smoked paprika adds a little extra to the pastry.

Introduction

If there were a picnic top trumps, the hand-held pie would rival the Scotch egg in the all-important portability and deliciousness categories. You can make your own pork pies, of course, but better I think, to concentrate on the kind of pies that really benefit from being homemade. Mass-produced shortcrust pastry can become soggy when refrigerated, whereas you can pack these up crisp from the oven and enjoy them at their best.

Makes 6

Ingredients

225g plain flour, plus extra to dust
A pinch of salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
175g cold butter
50ml iced water
Vegetable oil, to grease
1 egg, beaten with a little water and salt
For the filling:
4 chicken thighs
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 peppercorns
2 tbsp olive oil
½ an onion, chopped
½ a green pepper, deseeded and diced
½ a red pepper, deseeded and diced
75g cured chorizo, skinned and diced
75g crème fraîche

Essential kit

You will need a 6-hole muffin tray and a 9cm cutter.

Instructions

Sift the flour, salt and paprika into a bowl, and grate in the butter. Rub in with your fingertips, then add enough iced water to make a dough that comes cleanly away from the bowl. Wrap in baking parchment and chill for 30 minutes.

Put the chicken thighs into a large pan with the celery carrot, bay leaf and peppercorns and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through (about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the thighs). Remove the chicken and set aside to cool, then bring the liquid to the boil and cook until reduced by half to make a stock. Strain, discarding the vegetables.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Pick the meat off the chicken and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken meat into small cubes. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the onion and peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes, until soft, then turn up the heat slightly add the chorizo dice and sauté until they begin to crisp and release their oil. Stir in the chicken, followed by 50ml of the reduced stock, and then the crème fraîche.

Lightly grease a 6-hole muffin tray with oil. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 7mm thick, then, using a 9cm cutter cut out six circles of pastry to line the holes, along with six slightly smaller lids. Make sure you don’t stretch the pastry - try dropping the muffin tray on to the work surface from elbow height to encourage it into the holes.

Divide the filling between the pies and brush the rims with egg wash. Put the lids on, and press down with the back of a fork to seal well. Snip a small hole in each lid to let out steam, and brush the tops with egg wash. Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden, and allow to cool in the tray for 15 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely if eating cold.

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