Pastel is a special Filipino dish and is usually reserved for special occasions. The filling can also be made with ox tongue (pastel de lengua) following the same recipe. It is basically pot pie with a Filipino twist on the filling. Although chorizo is usually added to the chicken filling, I chose to use smoked ham which has a more subtle taste but still gives a smoky edge to its flavour.
The crust, unequivocally, is the best part of the pie. Someone said that a pie with no crust is not a pie. Well, that goes without saying, if I may say so.
Making pastry crust is something that most hesitate to try making. The recipe for pie crust that I use here can be used for sweet and savoury pies. It is the very same crust that I used for my egg pie which I made from Martha Stewarts's recipe. This is now my standard crust as it is very easy to make and always ends up crisp and flaky. I doubled the recipe for a more generous crust.
Two rules of thumb to end up with tender crust: don't add too much water and handle the crust gently so that the gluten doesn't develop. Using the food processor to make the dough simplifies the task of making pastry. Not having that, the pastry blender or a coarse cheese grater for cutting up the butter will do. Leave pea sized pieces of butter in the dough to make it flaky.
Yield: 6-8 servings
Ingredients for the filling:
1/4 c. butter
1 onion, cubed
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. cooked chicken meat (cubed)
1 1/2 c. cooked smoked ham (cubed), smoked bacon, vienna sausage or chorizo (cooked and sliced)
1 c. cooked diced carrots
1 c. quartered cooked water chestnuts
1 c. cooked mushrooms, halved
1 1/2 c. chicken stock
1 c. evaporated milk
1/4 c. plain flour (all purpose flour)
1/2 c. water
1 c. frozen green peas
1/4 c. grated processed cheese
2 tbsps. chopped parsley
Heat up a sauté pan and add in the butter. When hot, add in the onion. Add in the salt and allow to soften.
Add in the chicken and ham. Sauté for about 5 minutes until hot and fragrant. Season with black pepper.
Add in the carrots, water chestnuts, mushrooms, stock and milk. Bring to a boil.
Mix the flour and water. Strain. Add to the mixture in the pan while stirring until thickened. Simmer for about 3 minutes to let the flour cook.
Add in the frozen peas and cheese.
Take off the heat and mix in the parsley.
This recipe make 2 litres of filling. Choose a baking dish that's big enough for this amount. Transfer the filling to a large dish or individual dishes. Leave to cool.
1-2 recipes of pie crust
1 egg, beaten
The amount of pastry required would depend on the dish you are using. One recipe will cover a deep baking dish, such as a pyrex dish. Shallower or several smaller containers will require more crust. In my opinion, a good pie requires a high crust to filling ratio.
Prepare the crust as per recipe.
Roll the pastry to about 1/4" thickness.
Cut to size leaving about 1/2 inch overhang. Fold in the edges of the pastry, tucking it in under the crust to make the border thicker. Let it grip the edges of the dish to prevent it from shrinking. Crimp the edges and decorate as you like, using the beaten egg as a glue to stick decorative shape onto the crust. Poke holes on the crust to let the steam escape to prevent sogginess.
Brush with the beaten egg.
Bake at 180° C/350° F for 30-40 minutes until the crust is browned and crisp and the filling is hot (when it starts to come out of the steam vents, it is hot enough).
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