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Puff Pastry Chicken Baskets

Recipe: Puff Pastry Chicken Baskets

Remarks:

    I came up with this dish during a heat wave. Even with air conditioning, the thought of spending a lot of time cooking just sort of made me lose my appetite, so I wanted to come up with something that would come together fast. We're talking way less than 30 minutes. But still, I wanted comfort food. For some reason I wanted French, rich and lovely. I think it was in protest of the hot weather. I was tired of salads and grilled stuff. I wanted something different. This just hit the spot.

    When you want something easy and good enough to serve guests, have at it. Your mouth will love you for it.

Servings:
Serves 4. The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.

Ingredients:

    4 puff pastry shells

    Filling:
    3 Tbl butter
    8 oz sliced mushrooms
    2 stalks celery sliced into quarter-inch strips cross-wise
    2 Tbl flour
    1 cup white wine
    1 cup whipping cream
    1 cup grated swiss cheese
    1 cup chicken stock
    2 teaspooons Worchestershire sauce
    2 Tbl fresh parsley, minced
    12 oz pre-cooked chopped roasted chicken
    A pinch or two of cayenne to taste
    Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

    Remove 4 puff pastry shells from the package and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees according to package directions for 15 minutes until browned. Remove pastry "top" gently. You can use the top or just eat it as a treat. While the pastry is cooking, you'll make your chicken filling.

    In a large sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Put in your mushrooms and celery. Cook on Medium until softened and the mushrooms are lightly browned on the edges. This will take just a few minutes. Then add the flour and the last tablespoon of butter. You're making a roux with the flour and butter you're adding now. This will thicken the sauce. Make sure the flour gets stirred around really well with the mushrooms and the butter is stirred in and melted.

    Now add the white wine, the whipping cream and the swiss cheese and stock. Continue to cook on Medium. The sauce will start to thicken up and bubble fairly quickly. Add your Worchestershire, parsley, chicken, cayenne and salt and pepper. At this point all you need to do is thoroughly heat the whole thing and you are ready to serve. Taste test the sauce to see if you want more zip with cayenne or more salt and pepper. It's an individual decision. Keep the heat on Low once the sauce is thickened. If it gets too thick, you can add more wine and whipping cream to thin it out. Then just heat it up and let it thicken back up a tad to where you want it.

Serving Suggestions:

    Put a pastry basket on each plate and spoon the chicken on top. You can garnish with another sprig of parsley. Serve with a side salad and a vegetable and you have a nicely rounded out meal. You can even serve this at a party. The chicken mixture can be cooked ahead and just reheated so you can spend time with your guests. The puff pastry baskets can be made ahead but they taste best if you bake them just before serving rather than reheating them.

Enjoy!

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