Mini Chicken Pot Pies with Puff Pastry Crusts

Recipe by Nancy Johnson; Wine Commentary by Gary Twining.

Loaded with tender chicken and vegetables, these individual pies are topped with purchased puff pastry. You will need six oven-proof 2-cup ramekins or bowls. If you prefer, spread the mixture in a large casserole dish and top with puff pastry. Bake about 45 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

4 TBS butter, divided

2 TBS olive oil, divided

4 chicken breast fillets, cut into chunks

1 bay leaf

1 onion, peeled and minced

2 shallots, peeled and minced

2 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 ribs celery, minced

Salt, pepper and dried thyme, to taste

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup flour

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup frozen corn

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 package (17.3-ounce) frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

In a large skillet, melt 1 TBS butter and 1 TBS olive oil. Sauté chicken until golden. Add 1 cup water and bay leaf to skillet. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, 6 to 7 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside. Drain off bay leaf and cooking liquid and wipe skillet clean. Heat remaining butter and olive oil in skillet. Sauté onions and shallot until softened. Add potatoes, carrots and celery. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Sauté 3 minutes. Add mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are tender. Add 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender. Drain off liquid.

 Stir flour into vegetable mixture. Cook 1 minute, stirring. Stir in broth and cream. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens, about 7 minutes. Add chicken, peas and corn. Heat through.

 Meanwhile cut puff pastry into 6 circles. Cut 2 vents in top of each circle. Ladle chicken mixture into six (2-cup) oven-proof bowls or ramekins. Lay one puff pastry circle over each bowl. Place bowls on baking sheet. Bake until bubbly and pastry is puffed and golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 6.

Gary: With the chicken broth base, look to a ripe, rich white wine for pairing.  Sauvignon Blanc without extreme herbaceousness or citrus-grapefruit qualities would be good — think Bordeaux Blanc of moderate quality. Unoaked Chardonnay from anywhere, and particularly from France’s Macon district, would work, as would a Montagny. Viognier from the Rhone or California would bring out the flavor of the fruit, as would a softly dry Riesling.

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