This Chicken Hand Pies recipe was originally posted on my favourite blog seven years ago. I first made them on my son’s birthday party when he turned one and they were consumed with such excitement that I knew it was a keeper. The pastry is made with butter, it is a perfect, flaky crust that melts in your mouth. The filling is pretty unusual as it contains no cheese or béchamel sauce along with the chicken; rather it consists of paprika, chorizo, olives and raisins, resulting in a savoury hand pie which bursts with flavour. These savoury hand pies are so much favoured in our house that we frequently make them for lunch or as finger food for our parties.
Now, every time I make them, I remember the day I typed the URL, to find the recipe for those savoury chicken hand pies, but the website was not there anymore. In its place, there was a message: “the URL does not exist”. I was aware that the blogger had stopped posting two years earlier, but I had never thought that this wonderful website with the amazing recipes would one day disappear from the World Wide Web forever.
We are so used to having the internet world at our fingertips, that we take it for granted that the recipes we love will always be there. When you next go back to a favourite recipe, take the time to write it down or save it somewhere. This way you may have the chance to pass it down to other people if it disappears, which I am happy to be doing today.
This recipe for Chicken Hand pies is the creation of Elizabeth Wells, an extremely creative and talented chef. The original post was on her personal blog www.onehundredeggs.com which I followed for years and, regretfully, doesn’t exist anymore. If you live in Chicago, do check her Personal Chef services “Silver Plum” here. Update 23/01/2019: I am so excited to share with you that Elizabeth, partially thanks to this post, re-uploaded her website today!!! Check it here: onehundredeggs.com. Plus, she re-uploaded her previous project abreadaday.com which is an amazing collection of recipes for bread and pastry (her recipe for croissant is the only foolproof I have yet to find). Make yourself some coffee, nest comfortably on your sofa and dive in her websites. This lady does know her theme!
Chicken Hand Pies
These Chicken Hand Pies are perfect when baked into a flaky, buttery crust. If, however the weather is warm (high temperatures are not suitable for making flaky dough as the butter melts quickly resulting in a mess) or you do not want to go the extra mile on preparing your own dough, check variations on footnotes.
Makes 12-14 hand pies
For the crust:
- 115 gr / 4 ounces / 1 stick unsalted butter, cold
- 250 gr / 9 ounces / 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 65 gr / 2 1/4 ounces / 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
- 1 egg, cold
- 1 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1/3 cup ice-cold water, plus extra as needed
For the filling:
To finish pies:
Step 1 – Prepare the crust
Cut the butter into as small pieces as possible. Pile loosely on a plate, and place in freezer for about 10 minutes while preparing remaining ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Once the butter is thoroughly firm, add to flour. Using fingertips or a pastry cutter, quickly toss and pinch until mixture resembles coarse meal. Large pea-sized lumps are okay. For a flaky pastry it is crucial not to let the butter get too soft.
Beat egg with vinegar until well blended, and add to flour mixture. Drizzle 1/3 cup ice water over it, and quickly and gently fold in. Dough may look dry; try squeezing a bit together with fingertips. If mixture crumbles, add additional ice water by tablespoons, and gently mix. When mixture holds together, turn out onto a work surface.
Knead quickly and gently, just a few turns. until mixture forms a cohesive ball. Shape dough into a flat disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Step 2 – Prepare the filling
While dough chills, prepare the chicken hand pies filling. Rub chicken legs with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add legs, skin side down, and cook until just golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip legs over, and brown the other side, for 3 minutes more. Remove to a plate.
Discard all but two tablespoons fat from pan. Add onions, stir to coat, and cook until translucent and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, bay leaves, ground coriander, and paprika, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add chorizo, breaking up if necessary, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
Add beer and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze and loosen any flavourful browned bits. Add chicken stock, olives, and raisins; stir to combine. Nestle chicken legs, skin side up, into the mixture, reduce heat to medium-low or low to maintain a simmer, and cover pan.
Simmer, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken registers 80º C on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. Remove legs to a clean plate to cool. If necessary, continue simmering sauce until thickened; it should be the consistency of heavy cream. Remove bay leaves, and let cool to room temperature. Pull chicken meat from bone, discarding skin, cut in chunks and stir it into the sauce.
Preparing in advance:
Filling may be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before using.
Step 3 – Roll and cut the pastry
When ready to make the chicken hand pies, preheat oven to 180º C / 350 ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand 5 to 10 minutes at room temperature. (If your kitchen is warm, divide dough in half, working with one piece at a time, and refrigerating the other half to prevent butter melting.)
Liberally dust a work surface with flour. Divide dough into 14 even pieces, and form each into a roughly round shape. Keep unused pieces loosely covered with plastic wrap. Using a floured rolling pin, roll each piece to a disc about 12.5 cm in diameter (about 3.3 mm thick), lifting and turning dough and dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking. The shape need not be perfectly round.
Preparing in advance:
You can roll and cut the pastry a few days before you intend to use it. After cutting the pieces, place them on parchment paper on a flat surface and put them in the freezer. Once frozen hard, stack them with pieces of parchment paper between each piece. Wrap the stacked pieces well with aluminium foil or in a ziplock bag and store them in the freezer up to one month. Before using, spread them out on a surface and let them soften till ready to use. It is best to do so in the refrigerator if your kitchen is too warm.
Step 4 – Fill the Chicken Hand Pies
Place one generous tablespoon of filling in the centre of each round. Brush the edges of the dough lightly with egg wash, and fold the dough in half over the filling. Crimp the edges to seal, either with a fork or by making a series of very small overlapping folds with fingertips, pressing firmly. Transfer each pie to the prepared baking sheet, lightly dusting off any excess flour. Repeat with remaining crust and filling.
Step 5 – Bake the Chicken Hand Pies
Gently brush each pie with egg wash. If dough has softened, refrigerate tray of pies for at least 15 minutes before baking. Bake at 180º C / 350 ºF for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool briefly on trays before serving.
They store well at room temperature for one day, during which time the flavours develop, and also in the fridge for 2-3 days. You can bring to room temperature before serving or re-heat in the oven.
Preparing ahead and storing in the freezer
When thoroughly cooled, wrap them tightly and freeze them. Frozen pies may be reheated on a baking sheet in a 175º C oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until warmed through.
You can play around with the wrapping of those chicken hand pies; transform them to spring rolls using spring roll wrappers or swap the flaky pastry with ready-made phyllo pastry. Bake them or fry them. It is what’s inside that counts, so go on and experiment with the wrapping as much as you like.