Monday, January 11, 2010

Chicken in Puff Pastry

This is such a simple and tasty meal. It started when I went to one of my (still) favorite lunch places in college. It's called the Wine and Cheese Gallery and it's in Gainvesille, FL. It's a great wine shop and they only serve food for lunch but everyday they have the most amazing salads, sandwiches, quiches, etc.

One day they had a special. It was chicken, cheese and herbs in puff pastry served with a spinach salad. It was wonderful and had me hooked! From then on I always looked at their specials first to see if their puff pastry special was being offered that day. If it was there, my lunch choice was made! They also served it with shrimp which was also amazing.

A while after we moved to Orlando, I bought puff pastry for something else I was making. Since puff pastry comes in packages of 2 at a time, I had to think of something to do with the unused sheet. I remembered the amazing dish at Wine and Cheese and decided to attempt to recreate it!

The original dish used fresh herbs but I didn't have any so I threw in pesto instead. It was absolutely delicious! If you have fresh thyme, basil, oregano or parsely, throw those in because they would work well with this. Otherwise, feel free to use store-bought pesto. I also decided to saute some mushrooms and throw those in for more flavor. (Also, since Brad isn't a huge fan of veggies, I try to throw them in wherever I can!)

For the most part, I just threw this together based on my memory of the dish. I didn't really measure as I went along and just added what sounded good to me. I tried to estimate as best I could for the recipe below. Be warned, the recipe below makes quite a bit of filling. If you don't think you'll use it all, cut back on the cream cheese and the rest of the ingredients to reduce the amount of the filling. Or just refrigerate the leftover filling and make these again for dinner later in the week!

Chicken in Puff Pastry
(Original recipe, inspired by Wine and Cheese Gallery)

1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 small onion, finely chopped

3/4 cup sliced mushroom
8 oz. cream Cheese, softened
1 cup shredded or diced cooked chicken (NOTE: Can be pre-packaged fully-cooked chicken like this or leftover grilled or rotisserie chicken)
1 Tbsp Dijon-style mustard
2 Tbsp tore-bought pesto (This is my favorite brand.)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 sheet of puff pastry

1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 400 F. Thaw puff pastry sheet at room temperature for 30 minutes. Beat egg and water together in a small dish and set aside.

Add onion and garlic to a medium saute pan over medium-high heat and cook until onion starts to soften and turn translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until tender. Remove from heat and strain. Combine cream cheese, chicken, mushroom mixture, mustard, and pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir gently to combine. Refrigerate 30 minutes to an hour to allow the mixture to firm up. (Note: This is optional but I found that making the pastries was easier when the stuffing was less runny and more firm.)

Unfold on puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll out slightly to create a 14" rectangle. Cut pastry in 4 squares and lay each square of pastry onto a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray.

Fill the center of each square about 1/4 to 1/3 full of cream cheese mixture. Brush the sides of the pastry squares with the egg wash and fold in half diagonally to create a triangle shape. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Once all of the pastries are finished, brush the tops with more egg wash and use a sharp knife to cut 2-3 slits in the top of the pastry to allow the steam to vent. Place in oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the pastry has puffed and is golden brown.

I served this dinner with a side salad dressed with a vinaigrette. While these little pastries taste amazing, they can me quite heavy and are almost a meal to themselves!


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