Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Chicken & Chestnut Pie
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Master Chef Walter Potenza, GoLocalWorcester Food Expert
Chestnuts are the only low-fat nuts, containing just 1 gram of fat and a little less than 70 calories per ounce of dried or roasted nuts. Additionally, chestnuts are the only nuts that contain vitamin C; in fact, just 3 ounces of chestnuts supply about 45% of the recommended daily amount of this vital antioxidant nutrient. And they’re a great source of dietary fiber, which helps lower blood cholesterol levels. When chestnuts are in season, you can roast them in the oven. If you’re pressed for time, you can buy them prepackaged and ready to eat any time of year. You should eat up to 3 ounces of chestnuts a day to maximize their benefits.
12 boneless chicken thigh fillets, trimmed
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
½ tsp black peppercorns
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup smoked bacon lardoons
4 shallots, finely chopped
1 pound cooked chestnuts, in cans, halved
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only, or about ½ tsp dried thyme, plus extra for the pastry topping
1/4 cup Madeira
1½ tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 package all-butter puff pastry from favorite store brand
1 egg, beaten with a little water, to glaze
Assemble the pie up to the end of step 4. Cover with lightly greased foil (wrapping well if freezing) then chill for up to 24 hours, or freeze for up to 2 months. If chilled, simply bake according to the recipe, adding an extra 10-15 minutes' cooking time. To bake from frozen, cook covered in a preheated oven (160°C, fan 140°C, gas 3) for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and completely heated through.
Put the chicken, carrot, onion, celery, bay leaf, peppercorns and a pinch of salt into a wide saucepan and just cover with 1-quart cold water. Bring to the boil, then skim the surface, turn down the heat and simmer very gently, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until cooked through.
Lift out the thighs and set aside to cool, then bring the liquid back to the boil and reduce by half (this will take about 15 minutes). Strain out the vegetables and discard. Set aside the cooking liquid. Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the bacon. Fry until the bacon lardoons begin to release their fat, then add the shallots and cook for 10 minutes, until softened. Stir in the chestnuts and fresh or dried thyme, turn up the heat slightly and fry for a further couple of minutes. Pour in the Madeira, bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes until slightly reduced.
Mix 2 tablespoons of the chicken cooking liquid to a paste with the cornflour and then stir this into the cream. Whisk the cream mixture into the pan along with 1/2 cup of the stock, and then simmer gently until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the chicken. Tip the mixture into greased 9-inch pie dish then leave to cool for at least 40 minutes. The remaining cooking liquid can be frozen.
Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking, School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well." Check out the Chef's website and blog