Chicken, Grape and Champagne Pies
Note: Verjus is the juice of unripe grapes. Find it near the vinegar at specialty grocers.
2 tablespoons butter
Extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 large, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Champagne
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme
1/2 preserved lemon, flesh removed, rind rinsed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons verjus
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup green seedless grapes, halved if large
2 cups flour
1 3/4 sticks butter
4 ounces sour cream
1 beaten egg
1. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large pan over high heat until nut-brown, then add a splash of olive oil. Season chicken with salt, then saute in batches until lightly colored. Remove from pan.
2. Add leeks and garlic to pan; cook over low heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to high, deglaze pan with wine, and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes or until wine has reduced by half. Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine, then add stock and bring to a simmer. Add chicken, tarragon, thyme and preserved lemon, stirring gently to combine. Cook 4-5 minutes. Add verjus, and simmer 2-3 minutes more. Season to taste. Add grapes, then let mixture cool completely.
3. For the pastry: Combine flour and butter in a food processor, and pulse until mixture resembles course crumbs. With processor running, add 3 ounces sour cream. Add up to an ounce more, just until the pastry comes together and forms a ball. Chill for 20 minutes.
4. Grease four 4-inch pie tins with olive oil. Roll out pastry to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut four 7-inch and four 4 1/2-inch rounds. Line each tin with a 7-inch round. Divide the cooled chicken mixture among the tins. Wet pastry edges with a little water, then top with lids. Press edges together to seal, trimming away excess. Pierce a small hole in the center of each top, then brush pastry with a little beaten egg.
5. Chill pies for at least 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until pastry is golden. Cool slightly before serving.
-- Adapted from Maggie Beer, "Maggie's Kitchen" (Penguin, 2008)