chicken pies

chicken pies

Empadas de galinha

By
From
Lisbon
Makes
12 pies
Photographer
Steven Joyce

Because my small daughter came with us to Lisbon, we spent a lot of time in the city’s wonderful parks – our favourite is Jardim de Estrela, a beautiful tree-filled green space, with an art deco bandstand, duck pond, peacocks and a huge children’s play area. It also has two lovely cafés, one, a bar by the pond, where locals relax after work, and the other a smaller quiosque (kiosk). Quiosques are an integral part of Lisbon’s parks. They are tiny and usually only offer outside seating; often they open early selling pastries and coffee, and are open until late, serving beers and bifana or pregos sandwiches. Many quiosques also sell these little pies, with their lids pinched into distinctive shapes, juicy fillings and rich crumbly pastry, which are as good with a morning coffee as they are with an evening drink.

Try adding cooked chopped mushrooms to this recipe, or some cooked and finely chopped spinach – just be sure to cook off or squeeze out as much liquid as possible, or the pies may end up soggy.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

Filling

Quantity Ingredient
knob lard
200g free-range skinless chicken breast, peeled and cut into small pieces
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 rasher smoked bacon or pancetta, chopped
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon very finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper

Pastry

Quantity Ingredient
210g plain flour, plus more to dust
100g salted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease
25g lard
2 egg yolks, plus 1 egg, lightly beaten, to brush

Method

  1. To make the filling, heat the lard in a saucepan over a fairly high heat, then add the chopped chicken and onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. By this stage, the chicken and the onion should be just beginning to brown, in which case, add the wine and stir. Add the parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper, stir, then pour in enough hot water to just cover the meat. Bring back to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is really tender.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, make the pastry. Place the flour in a bowl with the butter, lard and egg yolks. Working quickly, use your hands to rub the fat into the flour, combining the yolks into the mix as you go. Once you have a crumbly yellow mix, add just enough cold water to bring the dough together. If it feels sticky, add a little more flour. As soon as the dough has come together, wrap it in cling film (plastic wrap) and place it in the fridge to rest for at least 20 minutes.
  3. When the chicken is tender, remove the pastry from the fridge and set aside to soften slightly.
  4. Remove the chicken pan from the heat and use 2 forks to shred the meat. Add 60 ml of water to loosen the mixture. It should be saucy and juicy looking, but not wet.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C and lightly grease a shallow 12-hole tart tin with butter.
  6. Roll out the pastry on a clean, floured surface, with floured hands and a floured rolling pin, until it is 3 mm thick. Using an 8.8 cm round cutter, cut out 12 large discs to form the pie bases. The pastry must overhang the muffin tin by 1 cm, so you may need to use a different size of cutter to get the right fit for your tin. Next, cut 12 smaller discs with a 6 cm round cutter to form the tops of the pies.
  7. Press the larger discs into each indentation in the tin. Add a tablespoonful or so of the chicken mixture, dividing it equally between all 12 pies. Top each one with a smaller disc of pastry, pushing it down around the edges to enclose the filling. Brush the lids and exposed edges of the bases with beaten egg. Carefully remove the pies from the tin one by one and fold the pastry edges in over the lids, with the pie cupped in the palm of your hand, crimping the pastry inwards every couple of centimetres to give the pies their distinctive appearance. Place the pies back in the tin, brush the crimped edges with beaten egg, and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown all over. Eat hot, warm or at room temperature.
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