Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Rustic chicken stew tart:Confessions of a first time tart baker:

I am not much of a baker. I have never baked regularly. Only once in a while. And I have quite a few disasters to my credit. As a child I loved watching my mother bake that cake occasionally, some times I would beg her to let me cream the butter and sugar and she would, but only for a few seconds. When mum baked cakes we didn't have fancy blender or electronic whisks and she would do it all manually. It meant real hard work. Probably one reason why I always avoided baking, though I loved the idea of it.

The other reason is I often felt intimidated by it, especially considering Ma's categorical insistence on adhering to measurement. Now I am a restless person, mostly I like to follow my whim and throw things in and around according to my crazy moods. I have found following recipes rather tedious, a little boring too. But then of late I have felt this tremendous urge to bake. Now my mum has not baked in a long time and she has over time given away most of her baking supplies to friends, neighbours, relatives, etc. So right now I am in the process of building my own inventory. And every time I buy a new item I feel an indomitable urge to make something with it right away.

So when my newest Tart Mold Tray arrived by courier last evening I couldn't wait to bake the first tart of my life. I couldn't wait till this morning, I was itching to do something. So I prepped for the filling, marinated the chicken and put it in the fridge last night. Oh I wanted to make a savoury tart with chicken but something light considering the heat. So I came up with the idea of making a filling inspired by a simple, creamy chicken stew is a light tart shell. The inspiration behind my filling was the kind one of the most popular bakeries in Calcutta has in their chicken envelopes. It was a trial and error method but I am almost there at the first go. I like my version enough to keep it just like this. So I woke up at 6 this morning, usually that's midnight for me. And before I brushed my teeth I was making tart dough (I had washed my hands though). The next few hours are all a haze in my mind. The sweltering heat, beads of sweat, the flours between my fingers, the struggle with lining the tart tin, my brother stealing away big spoons full of the filling which naturally fell short...what chaos. I realised lining a tart tin is not art it is war, at least it was for me. May be things will cool down the next time. By the way the patches pf butter is the dough is a good things, that how we want to roll baby. I had started to panic when Mum shared her wisdom.

By the way I in my dreams last night I was deep frying pizza slices and tossing them into the dustbin, one after another, non stop. Talking of pizza, and this is uncanny, I got to know this morning that Pizza Hut will be serving Biryani now!!! No offense meant, but I feel pretty offended by the stuff they serve as pizza, at least here in Calcutta, and now Biryani? Ummmmm

Like I said, it was my first time baking a tart so I looked up for recipes for tart shells online, settled for the simplest, dared to tweak it a little bit here and there....teeny weeny little. The filling is my own little baby though.

Recipe for tart shell dough: 
All purpose flour - 370 g
Cold unsalted butter cut in cubes - 125 g
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Sugar- 1 tsp
Ice water- 4-5 tbsp

Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl and stir around for a bit to aerate it.

Now add the butter to the flour and mix it, cutting the butter into the flow. You will have a gravelly mix of flower and butter.

Now add the ice water and gently bring the dough together. Do not over work the dough.

Keep the dough on a sheet of parchment and roll it out so that its big enough to fit your tin. You will see patches of butter in your dough which is a good thing. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and keep it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Recipe courtesy

Rustic Chicken Stew Tart

Tart shell dough (as directed above)
Boneless chicken diced - 1 kg
Diced Capsicum - 2 cups
Diced Onions - 2 cups
Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Fresh coarsely ground pepper - 1 tbsp (heaped) or to taste
Nutmeg powder - 1/2 tsp
Milk - 1/2 cup
Sugar- 1/2 tsp
Butter - 30 g


Prepare the tart crust: Preheat oven at 200 degree centigrade. After the tart crust dough has rested in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, bring it out and line your tart dish with the dough, fill it with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 10-12 minutes. Take out of the oven and leave it to rest.

Prepare the chicken stew filling: In a bowl mix the chicken, capsicum and onions together. Add garlic paste, salt and fresh, coarsely ground pepper. Leave the chicken in its marinade for at least 3 hours. I left it in the fridge, covered over night.

Heat butter in a pan. Add  nutmeg powder and add the chicken. Stir fry the chicken for about 5 minutes on high heat, reduce heat, cover and cook for another 15 minutes approximately.

Remove cover, adjust seasoning, add a little sugar and cook on medium heat to let the juices reduce. When the chicken is almost tender, and most the juice has reduces, add the milk and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle the flour and mix well. Give it a minute or two and remove.

Getting it together: Preheat oven at 200 degree centigrade. Carefully pour the chicken stew filling into the pre baked pie crust and bake it for 30-35 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

PS. The filling is yum on its own or on toast or as a filling for puff pastry!

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