I have been seriously into stuffed breads lately. I made bierock last night and they were very popular. Jan asked for something with chicken for tonight.
I love the idea of a meal in a pouch. Stuffed breads have the added advantage that you usually have to make more than you are planning to eat at one meal. Ready-made lunches with no extra work!
Tonight, I am filling my bread with a chicken curry. I could call this a samosa, but samosa have a distinct pyramidal shape (which I have not mastered) and are generally deep fried (which Jan cannot eat). I am using a dough and a shape that is much closer to a Cornish pasty—a California fusion Cornwall meets India cuisine.
Karl’s Chicken Curry Pasty
3½ cups flour, AP
½ Tbs. Kosher salt
2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. onion powder
1½ sticks (¾ cup) frozen unsalted butter
2 large egg
1 cup ice water
2 Tbs. distilled white vinegar
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. fennel seed
2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. chili flakes
¼ tsp. white pepper
4 Tbs. ghee, separate uses
2 medium Russet potatoes, quarter inch dice
1 medium yellow onion, quarter inch dice
½ tsp. Kosher salt
2 cups green cabbage, finely shredded
6 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, finely grated
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
2 chicken breasts, quarter inch dice
1 cup fresh cilantro
1. Place several ice cubes into a cup of water.
2. Sift the flour, salt, turmeric and onion powder together several times in a large bowl to get a complete and even mixture.
3. Use a box grater to shred the butter into the flour.
Tip: As the butter shreds build up in the bowl, stir them into the flour to coat them.
4. Use a pastry cutter to chop the shreds into tiny pieces.
Tip: To get a flaky dough the butter must remain cold so that it does not bind with the flour. You want to handle the butter and dough as little as possible with your warm hands—why Jan has always been better at crusts than me.
5. Measure out one half cup of ice water and add the egg and vinegar. Whisk the mixture to blend.
Tip: The vinegar inhibits the proteins in the flour from forming gluten. There is not enough vinegar to make it taste “sour.”
6. Make a “well” in the flour and add the liquid.
7. Use a spatula to mix the flour into the dough until most of the dry flour has been incorporated.
8. Turn the dough out onto a clean smooth surface and knead the dough 3-5 times.
Tip: Not 3-5 minutes, only 3-5 kneads, the more you handle the dough the more the butter will melt and the more gluten will form, making your dough tough.
9. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator to chill for one hour.
10. Toast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds and then grind to a powder.
11. Put the powdered spice into a small pan or pot and add the garam masala, turmeric, cinnamon, chili flakes, and white pepper.
Tip: Use the same small pan or pot that you toasted the spices in.
12. Toast the spices for one minutes and then add two tablespoons of ghee.
13. Mix the butter and spices into a paste in the pot over a low heat well and cook for one minute more. Set the curry paste aside to cool.
14. In a medium pot of water, boil the potatoes until just tender, about 4-5 minutes.
Tip: Use the boiling potato water to blanch your tomato, to make it easy to remove the skin.
Note: Your potatoes should be just a bit underdone as they are going to bake again inside the bread.
15. Reserve half a cup of the potato water and drain the potatoes. Set them aside.
16. Add the remaining ghee to a large pan, over a medium high heat, and sauté the onions with the salt until soft, about five minutes.
17. Add the cabbage and continue sautéing until the cabbage is soft, another five minutes.
18. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pan and add the garlic and ginger to the hole in the center. Cook for one minute, until fragrant.
19. Add the tomato paste to the garlic and ginger and continue cooking, stirring constantly until the tomato paste has darkened, 2-3 minutes.
20. Add the curry paste and the chopped tomatoes to the pan. Stir the onions in from the sides of the pan to mix well.
21. Cook the sauce until it starts to thicken, about 7-10 minutes.
22. Stir in the chicken and continue stirring for three minutes to partly cook the chicken.
Tip: The curry is going to be cooked a second time while the empanadas are baking, so it is not necessary for the chicken to be fully cooked at this time.
23. Gently stir in the potatoes and cilantro mix to blend and coat the potatoes with the sauce.
Tip: Try not to mash the potatoes too much.
Note: It is likely that the sauce will be a bit too thick at this point. Use just enough of the reserved potato water to thin the sauce. Do not make the sauce too soupy—you are looking for Goldilocks, “just right.”
24. Set the curry aside to cool.
25. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide the ball in half.
Tip: Re-wrap the other half of the dough and return it to the refrigerator. You want to keep the dough as cold as possible at all times until you place them in the oven.
26. Divide the half dough ball into 8-16 equal pieces and roll them into balls.
Note: The amount of dough in this recipe will make 16 large pasties (full meal hand pies with half a cup of filling in each) or 32 small pasties (with a quarter cup of filling). If you divide the dough in half one more time you could make 64 party-sized pasties.
27. Take the dough balls 2-3 at a time and, on a well floured surface, roll them into seven inch circles.
Tip: Put the other balls on a plate and return them to the refrigerator.
Note: Five inch circles for the small pasties.
28. Place half a cup of the curry in the center of the circle.
29. Pull the far edge of the dough over the filling and lay it over the near edge.
Tip: Be careful of the sharp corners of the potatoes, they will tend to punch holes in your dough. A small scrap of dough, dampened on one side, can be used to patch any holes.
30. Crimp the edges together to seal the pouch.
Note: Leave one corner un-crimped for the moment.
Tip: Use the tines of a fork to make the edge look decorative or watch this video for a traditional technique.
31. Use your hands to settle the filling inside the pasty to make a flat half moon and push any air pockets out of the pouch.
32. Crimp the last corner and place the pasty on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
33. Preheat your oven to 400º F.
34. Continue rolling and filling the dough balls, until you run out of dough and filling.
Note: I was able to fit six pasties on each baking sheet.
35. Once you have a full baking sheet of pasties, and your oven is hot, you may start baking the first batch, while you continue filling the rest.
36. Bake the pasties for 25-27 minutes, until well browned on top.
Note: This recipe makes a lot of pasties. If you are not planning to eat all of them immediately, you can freeze some for later. Remove the half-baked pasties from the oven after 15 minutes. Let them cool to room temperature and then put them on a wire rack or small cookie sheet in the freezer. After two hours, transfer the frozen pasties to a sealable plastic bag and keep them frozen for later.
37. Remove the finished pasties to a wire rack and cool to warm.
38. Serve warm.