Thursday 28 May 2015

Chicken Vents

   I usually have meal replacement shakes for lunch - I've found a couple of brands that actually make delicious shakes rather than weak and foul ones (Real Nutrition Co and PHD Woman) - because they're just 200 calories, they're loaded with protein which keeps you full and filled with lots of vitamins and minerals, usually about 30% of your RDA of each per serving, at least, which you wouldn't get from any conventional lunch.
   But while I was doing my Spring Cleaning the other week, I opted for sandwiches and 'real' food instead. And while my salmon and chicken sandwiches were delicious, I did want to try something a little different.
   I only made two apple rose tarts when I made my puff pastry, so I had a fairly large amount left over in the freezer. It was made from just white whole meal flour, water and coconut oil, so it was far from an unhealthy pastry, as pastries go, so I figured it was pretty clean. So I decided I'd do something with it.
   And I made chicken vents. They're little chicken and vegetable pies, but they have no lids, the pastry is light, and they're really easy to make in small batches.

Puff Pastry:
250g whole meal flour
pinch of salt
250g coconut oil
150ml water

4 Vents:
100g chicken breast
1/4 cup peas
1/4 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup gravy
or your chosen fillings.

1. First of all, make your pastry. Combine the salt and flour in a mixing bowl, then rub in the coconut oil. Don't over-combine, stop when the coconut oil is still roughly the size of peas.
2. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water, then mix it with your hands to create a dough.
3. Cover the bowl and leave it in the fridge for half an hour.
4. Turn it out onto a powdered surface and roll it out in one direction so it's about 3 times as long as it is wide. Fold the top third down over the middle, then fold the bottom third over, turn it 90 degrees and roll it out in one direction again so that it's 3 times as long as it is wide once again.
5. Cover once again and set back in the fridge for half an hour. This pastry can be frozen and kept for about 6 months, so if you make too much for the vents the rest can easily be put away for the next time you need puff pastry.

6. Pre-heat oven to gas mark 5/190 C/375 F.
7. When the pastry is ready, take a circle cookie cutter and cut three circles for each pie. Set one of each three circles aside for the base. Cut a smaller circle out of the middle of the remaining two circles, brush the base circle with water or milk and stack the two rings on top.
8. Flour a baking tray and set the pastries on it. Put them in the oven for 30 minutes.
Optional: if you're adding cheese, pull the pastries out after 15 minutes, add the cheese to the bottom and put back in for the remaining 15 minutes to melt it.
9. Next comes preparing your filling. Cook your chosen meat in the desired manner, such as frying the chicken in garlic and coconut oil, and using any herbs and spices you'd like. I used frozen veg and cooked a pitifully small amount but it proved to be more than enough. I also cheated and used some gravy granules and made about 1/4 cup of gravy to divide amongst them rather than making any from scratch - it's too much hassle to make gravy from scratch when it's just to make 4 small pies.
10. When the pastry comes out of the oven, divide the pieces of chicken amongst the pastry vents, then the veg, then drizzle the gravy - or whatever filling you've chosen - and serve them immediately. If you'd like them hotter you can pop them back in the oven for 10 minutes, but they were more than adequate as they were.

   They don't look like much, these tiny pies, but one was surprisingly filling! I actually didn't feel hungry again for 2 hours, and that helped keep me from snacking on bad things which was important in my spring cleaning. I have another idea for these that I intend to try soon!


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