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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pasteitje met ragout (Puff pastry with chicken and mushroom gravy)

As Calvinistic as we are, bent on not having too much of anything and claiming that "being normal is crazy enough", we are set on extending the Christmas celebrations over two days instead of one. First Christmas Day is December 25th, Second Christmas Day is December 26th. And if you are part of those families that also celebrate Christmas Eve, that makes it two days and a half.

Christmas Eve is traditionally the night where you dress up, go to evening mass (even those that are not raised in the church will often attend) and upon return to the house round off the celebrations with hot chocolate and, how else, a bread meal with luxury rolls.

First Christmas Day is a formal dinner day and a day that is generally celebrated with family only. If you are invited to someone's home on First Christmas Day, and you are not family or in any way related, it is quite an honor! This is also the day that will determine where you stand, family-wise. In trying to keep the peace between families and in-laws, children often switch back and forth between families on 1st and 2nd Christmas Day: one year you will celebrate dinner at your parent's on the 1st, the next year it's at your significant other's parents. Being invited, or visited, on 2nd Christmas Day almost automatically classifies you as 2nd class family member......

Second Christmas Day is much less formal. It's when the leftovers are eaten, and everybody runs around in their "house suit", sweats and jammies, hanging in front of the TV or going for long, wintery walks to get some fresh air. Friends will sometimes come over for a drink and a chat, and a less formal dinner (not leftovers!!).

So many of these traditions are slowly changing but one of the standard items on Christmas Day is this appetizer or starter for the meal: a puff pastry cup filled with a chicken and mushroom gravy. It is so seventies, but it is one of those dishes that is comforting, filling and familiar at the same time.

I had some chicken leftover from last night's dinner club. It's getting close to Christmas and all of a sudden I had a hankering for a pasteitje met ragout.......

Pasteitjes are sold ready-to-use in Holland. As there is no such thing here, I made my own.

Pasteitje met ragout
For the pasteitje:
2 sheets of puff pastry
1 tablespoon of flour
1 egg, beaten

Dust the counter with flour and thaw the sheets. Cut eight circles out of the pastry dough. Out of four of these circles, press a smaller circle from the middle. Wet the full circles with a little bit of water, place the rings on top and brush the whole pastry with egg. Place the cut outs on the side, and brush as well.

Bake on a sheetpan in a 400F oven for ten minutes or until golden and puffy. Cool on a wire rack.

Ragout
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 chicken breast
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
3 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 small can of mushrooms (or one cup of fresh mushrooms, sliced)
2 1/2 cups of white wine
2 1/2 cup of warm water
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 bay leaves
thyme
pepper

1 tablespoon of flour
2 tablespoons of water

If you have time, marinate the chicken breast the night before in a bowl with the wine, water, onions, bay leaves, thyme and crushed garlic cloves. 

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven, dry the chicken and quickly brown the chicken on all sides. Add the sliced onion and the garlic cloves and sauté until translucent. Add the wine, the warm water, the bouillon cube and the mushrooms and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, add the bay leaves, a sprinkle of thyme and pepper and simmer for at least 45 minutes.

Take the chicken out of the sauce. The meat should be tender enough that you can pull it apart with two forks. If not, return to the pan and simmer longer.

Taste the sauce and see if it needs adjusting with pepper and/or salt. Make a paste with the flour and the water and add to the gravy, bring up the heat and while stirring, thicken the sauce. Add the shredded chicken to the gravy.

Carefully place the pasteitjes on a plate, fill with ragout, sprinkle with some parsley if you want and serve!


1 comment:

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