Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nostalgic Chicken & Leek Puff Pastry Tarts

Once upon a time, Pepperidge Farm sold these frozen, single serving puff pastry tarts with various savory fillings. I had an absolute passion for those things, but since my parents weren't big on buying frozen or convenience foods, I didn't get them nearly as often as I would have liked. They eventually stopped making them, and a Google search came up empty so I can't even share a photo or an advertisement with you here.

Fast forward to a recent snowy evening (if the reader is getting the impression that it does nothing but $#@*% snow here lately, they would be correct), when the freezer contained not only puff pastry, but my very first package of the much-talked-about Beyond Chicken. Being in the mood for a project, I decided to recreate those frozen treats of yesteryear on a more family-friendly scale, and the happy result is below. Now that I've made the "chicken" version, I am definitely moving on to my personal favorite from back in the day: broccoli and cheddar. So watch this space!

Chicken & Leek Puff Pastry Tart
~ 1/3 cup olive oil
~ 1 package Beyond Chicken (or other vegan poultry analogue), chopped into 1/2" pieces
~ 1 large leek (or 2 medium), cleaned and chopped
~ 1 large carrot, diced
~ 1 tsp. each: thyme, sage, mustard powder
~ 1/2 tsp. white pepper
~ Dash mace
~ 2 tbsp. flour
~ 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
~ 2 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 2 tsp. "no chicken" bouillon
~ 1 tsp. prepared English mustard
~ 2 bay leaves
~ 2 cups frozen spinach
~ Two sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
~ Combine the soy milk, bouillon, prepared mustard, and bay leaves. Microwave for about two minutes and mix well.
~ Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
~ When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the cubed Beyond Chicken and fry, turning occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy on all sides.
~ Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate lined with paper towels, and set aside to drain.
~ Remove all but a tbsp. or two of oil from the pan, and return it to medium heat.
~ Add the leeks, carrots, and dried seasonings, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring.
~ Add the flour, nutritional yeast, and about 1/2 cup of the soy milk mixture; stir to make a roux and continue cooking a minute or so.
~ Remove the bay leaves from the remaining soy milk mixture and begin adding it gradually, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.
~ Add the frozen spinach and continue cooking 10 minutes more.
~ Stir in the cooked chicken, mix well, and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes.
~ Arrange the thawed puff pastry sheets on your parchment-lined baking sheet.
~ Remove the bay leaves from the filling and divide it between the two sheets of puff pastry, spreading it evenly along the lefthand third of each sheet.
~ Fold each sheet over the filling to form an envelope, carefully crimping the edges to form a seal.
~ With a sharp knife, cut a couple of gashes in the top of each tart, and bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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