Karl’s Saffron Chicken and Leek Corn(ish) Pasties

Adapted from Frugal Feeding

My girl’s are all over the place today. Mom is going over to Miriam’s after work, to swim and de-stress. Eilene is up in San Francisco with a friend. They will be hungry when they finally get home, but there is no telling when that might be.

Karl’s Saffron Chicken and Leek Corn(ish) Pasties

Karl’s Saffron Chicken and Leek
Corn(ish) Pasties

I needed to make something that would be good hot, but also, more likely, cold. Pasties, hand pies, came to mind. I did not want to make Cornish pasties, which are made with raw beef, onions, potatoes and swedes and seasoned only with pepper. Jan is not overly fond of beef and neither of us particularly like rutabagas. Jan is also on a low starch diet and would prefer not to have both a flour crust and starchy white potatoes in the same dish.

An herby chicken and leek filling was more of what I had in mind. My original thought was to make it like the original pasties, taking raw chicken and vegetables and sticking them in a crust. Among the recipes on-line, only the beef recipes were made this way.

The chicken recipes all started with pre-cooked meat or started by cooking the chicken before cooking the rest of the ingredients and wrapping the stew in the crust. I decided that I would split the difference. I would half cook the chicken and vegetables, so that they would not overcook, but just finish cooking when I baked the crust. This would also prevent producing a soggy pasty, by cooking off the excess moisture in the vegetables.

Note: The original pasties, which had mostly dry root vegetables, would not have had this problem.

The crust for pasties is not fixed and some recipes call for filo or rough puff pastry. Originally barley flour was used, making for a super dense crust, but the most common crust today is made with a cold butter shortcrust pastry. The recipe I adapted this recipe from used a hot water crust pastry. This struck me as a less fussy and an easier crust to make, so I decided to try it.

After Dinner Note: Jan: This is definitely a post-able recipe. It is the best hand pie I have had since New Zealand. Eilene: You mean since Devon. Jan: Ok, Devon.

 Since I did not go to Devon, I cannot comment. I had both the best and worst meat pies I have ever had in Arrowtown, New Zealand. We had a venison pie that was “to die for” and a “Cornish pasty” that was inedible—I mean really, we threw them away.

There is a reason that the Cornish have demanded a law that any pasty not made in Cornwall is forbidden to call itself a “Cornish pasty.” Looking at the websites of Cornish pasties, what we bought in Arrowtown was nothing like the real thing. Some cooks simply do not understand.

 Jan is responsible for the joke in the title. She said that since I used a little corn meal to coat the pies, I could call them “corn(ish)” without breaking any EU laws. Karl: “Hey, officer, I’m just an innocent bystander to this linguistic crime.”

Karl’s Saffron Chicken and Leek Corn(ish) Pasties



7 Tbs. unsalted butter
2/3 cup hot water
Pinch saffron, powdered (about 10 strands)
2 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
½ Tbs. kosher salt

Chicken filling

1 Tbs. olive oil
¼ cup sweet onion, finely diced
¼ cup celery, finely diced
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 leek, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ruby yam (sweet potato), small dice
½ lb. chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
½ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. sage, rubbed
¼ tsp. black pepper
Pinch saffron, powdered
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. plain flour
½ cup whole milk

1 medium egg, beaten
¼ cup coarse corn meal


1. Put the water, butter and saffron in a medium saucepan and heat until the butter melts.

Note: A “proper” pasty should have a browned and yellow crust (mostly from the egg yolk), but the saffron guarantees a gentle golden color.

2. Put the flour in a medium bowl and thoroughly mix in the salt.

3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in flour and salt.

4. Mix the dry and wet ingredients until it forms a ball of dough.

5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated and you have a firm dough, about two minutes.

Tip: Add more flour or water, one tablespoon at a time, as needed.

6. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Put the ball of dough into the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more.

7. Put the oil in a sauté pan and cook the onions and celery with the salt, over medium heat, until the onions starting to brown, about five minutes.

8. Add the leeks and continue sautéing until they are soft, about two minutes more.

9. Add the yams and continue sautéing for two more minutes.

10. Pull the vegetables to the edges of the pan and add the garlic. Sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds, and then mix in the vegetables.

11. Stir in the chicken, thyme, sage, pepper and saffron and cook for two minutes.

Tip: You are not trying to cook the chicken and yams completely at this point. They will finish off during the baking. You are just trying to get them started and release any excess moisture.

12. Pull the contents of the pan to the sides and add the butter and flour. Cook until a roux is formed, about two minutes.

13. Stir the milk into the roux until it is thick and creamy. Mix in the chicken mixture and simmer for one minute.

14. Transfer the stew to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate to cool.

15. Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk in one tablespoon of water. Set this bowl aside.

16. Spread two tablespoons of corn meal on a small plate and set it aside.

17. Set the oven rack to the middle level and preheat the oven to 375° F.

18. Divide your pastry into six and roll each piece into a ball.

19. On a floured surface, roll out the first pastry ball into a disk 6-7 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick.

Tip: Many recipes call for rolling out all of the dough and then cutting out the circles of crust. They then discard any leftover scraps. This dough is soft enough that I was able to roll out good circles without any cutting or waste.

Note: Tradition recipes call for a crust about ¼ inch thick. Of course, these pies were suppose to be sturdy enough to survive a drop down a mine shaft. This thickness might make a strong crust, but this is a relatively low carbohydrate recipe and I am not planning to go down into any mines before dinner.

20. Spread 1/6 of the stew over the lower half of the crust circle, leaving a bare edge about half an inch wide on that side.

21. Brush the bare edge with the egg wash and pull the upper half of the dough over the filling.

22. Line up the edges of the two crust halves and press the edges together. Press down with the tines of a fork to get a good seal all around the edges.

Tip: Before you seal the last corner of the pie, press out any air trapped in the pie, but don’t press out the filling.

23. Lift up the pasty and set it down on the plate with the corn meal to coat the bottom.

24. Place the pasty on a Pam-ed baking sheet that is large enough to take all six pasties.

25. Continue rolling out and filling your pasties until you run out of dough balls.

Tip: Freeze any left-over filling for another use.

26. Brush the remaining egg was over the pasties and scatter any remaining corn meal over all.

27. Bake the pasties for 30-35 minutes until the tops are golden brown.

28. Remove the pasties to a wire rack to cool slightly.

Tip: Placing them directly onto a plate, right out of the oven, would cause them to steam and make for soggy bottoms.

29. The pasties are a full meal in themselves, but you could add a side salad if you wished.

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Filed under California Fusion, Chicken, Main Dishes, Poultry, Vegetables

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