Thursday 26 October 2017

Autumn Pumpkin Chicken Pie with Chestnut Crust

   This Sunday, the clocks go back. This means darker evenings, which is another of my favourite things about this time of the year. As much as I adore daylight and all the motivation it brings, I do also love the warm, orange glow of candles and light bulbs, and drawing the curtains to shut the world away and return to yourself after a busy day. Due to family arrangements, we usually eat at 5, which means that the clocks going back immediately changes the atmosphere at dinner - meals become more personal when you're not distracted by what's going on outside, and in our street, there's nothing to see but the neighbours across the road pressing their noses against their windows to watch everyone else, as though they think they're invisible themselves, or the occasional cat playing with a leaf. Also, I make the association of eating with the light on with Christmas. So that's another layer of excitement.
   I know. I'm 26.

   But while I may relish it, there are a lot of people that hate the early setting of the sun, and I can understand that. Which is why I'm sharing my ultimate SAD-easing meal in anticipation of Sunday's clock adjustment: autumn pumpkin & chicken pie with a crunch chestnut crust. And it's totally clean, contains great levels of protein and fibre, and counts as two of your 5 a day!

   Gorgeously creamy thanks to the coconut milk, and a beautiful colour, this pie was an immediate hit. Filling, comforting, with a lovely crunchy crust that does wonders with the soft, creamy chicken pumpkin filling, it's a fantastic dinner recipe for cold autumn evenings. And it has everything you need! With 100g of chicken, 100g of veg and 100g of pumpkin per serving, it has everything you need for a comfort meal and counts as two of your 5 a day! And you can take your time eating it - baking it in ramekins or serving bowls rather than transferring to a plate keeps the contents hot (and removes the need for a soggy pastry bottom), and the lid keeps that heat in, too.
   It is a little heavy, so you won't want to make it often, but it's a pleasure to eat on those evenings you might want a pick-me-up, or after an exhausting day, and your tummy will be full and content for the rest of the evening. What more can you want from an autumn dinner, when the nights draw in and the air gets cooler?

Makes 4x 14cm/5.5 inch pies
Chestnut Pastry Crust:
125g (1 cup) whole wheat flour
40g (1/2 cup) chestnut flour (I used Amisa)
1/2 tsp salt
50g (1/4 cup) coconut oil (soft, not liquid) (I used Vita Coco)
80ml (1/3 cup) skimmed milk

Pumpkin Chicken Pie Filling:
400g chicken breast
1 tsp of rosemary
1 tbsp coconut oil (for frying)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 brown onion
1.5 tsp salt
1 can (400g) pumpkin puree (I used Libby's, which can be found online in the UK)
200ml light coconut milk (half a can) (I used Blue Dragon)
200ml chicken stock
1/2 tsp nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
400g mixed veg (I used carrots, cauliflower & broccoli)

First, make the pastry.
1. Combine the wheat flour, chestnut flour and salt in a bowl, then add the coconut oil and rub together to combine. Then add the milk and mix with your hands until it all comes together. Add a tablespoon or two more milk if needed.

2. Roll it out to about 3mm thick and place one of your oven-safe pie bowls/dishes (about 14cm diameter) on top, upside down.
   To fit (as I did): cut around the edge of the bowl.
   To pleat/crimp the edges: cut 1cm out from the edge of the bowl.
   Do this for each pot, then cut leaves out of the remaining dough. Set aside until needed.

3. Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C/gas mark 6.

Now for the filling.
4. Boil a pan of water and add the chicken breast, heating over medium heat for 30 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, roast, boil or steam the vegetables to your liking, and set aside.

6. Fry the onion and garlic in a large pan for 5 minutes until the onions are soft.

7. Add the pumpkin puree and mix, then quickly add the coconut milk, chicken stock and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to your liking.

8. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

9. Meanwhile, drain the chicken and use two forks to shred it. Mix in some rosemary and set aside.

10. When the pumpkin mix has thickened, remove from the heat and mix in the vegetables and the shredded chicken.

11. Divide into oven-safe serving bowls and then place the crust on top.
   If you made it to fit, it will shrink just enough while baking.
   If you made it to pleat, wet the edge of the bowl and place your crust on top, then pattern the edges with a fork.

12. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes then leave to stand for a few minutes. The bowls will be hot, and the contents will be steaming hot. The lid will trap the heat.

For 1 pie (1/4 total mix): 490 cals, 29.5g protein, 38g carbs, 16.6g fat, 8.5g fibre; 2 of 5 a day
[Pastry: 240 cals, 4.5g protein, 26g carbs, 12.5g fat, 3.5g fibre]
[Filling: 250 cals, 25g protein, 12g carbs, 4g fat, 5g fibre]


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