Harry Potter: Savory Pumpkin and Pumpkin Tikka Pasties

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I know it’s been done to death, but I wanted to try a fresh take on the Pumpkin Pasties mentioned in the Harry Potter series.
My love for meat pies probably began with the Shakespeare Tavern –a dinner theater in Atlanta that serves Shakespearean drama with uproarious wit, and probably the best Cornish pasty you’ll ever find in this town (barring the fact that it is the only place in town I’ve found that serves them). It continued with The Peacock Tea Room, the only sit-down restaurant in the Georgia Renaissance Festival, that had beef and pork pies, Cornish pasties, and Shepherd’s Pie. Recently my love was rekindled during my Honeymoon through England and Scotland, where I happened upon the Piemaker shop in Edinburgh which had every kind of traditional pie and pasty there was under the sun. By all the culinary gods, it was glorious!
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Observe its majesty.

The reason why I bring this up is that savory pasties have always been a flaky-crusted, highly varied, melting-in-your-mouth staple of British cuisine and they always will be. Here in America, pie usually runs in the fruit, nut, pumpkin dessert or sweet variety. A common mistake many cooks will have in trying to recreate the Pumpkin Pasty from the Hogwarts Express is to create a turn-over version of Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie when it has never been part of British culinary tradition or popularity.

There is, however, something that has integrated itself to the UK’s tastes to be considered part of its epicurean heritage — Indian Food. Don’t believe me? Go to the UK (easier said than done, I know, but it’s worth it). There seems to be at least 1-3 Indian take-away restaurants in every London neighborhood. Just about every chain of pubs serves some quick curry with nan and poppadums. It’s been said the two cities in the world with the best-tasting Indian food are Calcutta and London. The Prime Minister has even mentioned that England’s national dish, due to amounts consumed alone, could be Chicken Tikka Masala.  How is this going to relate into today’s recipe of the day? You know what goes incredibly well with Pumpkin? Curry.
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The English word “pasty” is derived from the Medieval French word for pie — normally filled with meat, vegetables and/or cheese and baked without a dish. That said, I decided to use fresh herbs and poudre forte — a medieval spice blend — to season one of the fillings for these pasties. Poudre Forte is pretty tasty, and I do recommend making enough of it for its own small jar as it is delicious on many things (I personally love putting them on fried eggs). The recipe I linked calls for mace and grains of paradise, though I usually just use nutmeg for the former and extra black pepper for the latter.
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To acknowledge the UK’s evolving culinary tastes, the other filling option is a pumpkin-based chicken tikka masala blended with mango chutney. I’ve been trying to get the spice blend right on a good tikka masala for a while and I think I’ve finally gotten it. Do not change the blend unless of you really know what you’re doing. While the filling will taste mild initially, baking it will remove some of the moisture and really let the spicy flavors come out.

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Gargoyle drool not included.

Traditionally, pasties are made with short crust pastry dough. Due to lack of time and patience, I made these with puff pastry. You can probably expect to get about 4-5 large pasties out of a single box of dough, especially if you use the 6-inch diameter calzone mold that we did. The size you get will vary on preference and how small you cut the chicken and potatoes. Alternatively you can run the fillings through the food processor if you want to make bite-sized pies. Decorate the puff pastry however you want. My husband carved jack-o-lanterns, just because.

Hogwarts Express Pumpkin Pasties

Makes 4-5 large pasties/box of puff pastry
Equipment: Skillet, stovetop, 1-2 medium sized mixing bowls, rolling pin, oven, cooking brush, calzone mold (optional)

Savory Filling Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 chicken breast, diced
  • 1/4 russet potato, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large fresh sage leaves, chiffonade
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • 1 Tbs minced garlic
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp poudre forte
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper

Savory Filling Instructions

  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat two tablespoons of butter in a skillet on medium heat on the stovetop, strip herb sprigs and add with the sage to butter.
  3. When the butter is melted and the herbs are fragrant, add the chicken, onion, and potato and toss until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Add the garlic, other 2Tbs of butter, and brown sugar. Cook until the mixture has thickened.
  5. Empty contents of skillet into a medium mixing bowl and clean the skillet if you’re planning on making the other filling.
  6. Add the pumpkin, ricotta, poudre forte, a splash of lemon juice to the bowl and mix. Add salt to taste.
  7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or till whenever you need it.

Pumpkin Tikka Filling Ingredients

Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Sauce and Filling:

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 chicken breast, diced
  • 1/4 russet potato, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeno, minced
  • 1 Tbs minced garlic
  • 1 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp mango chutney
  • salt

Pumpkin Tikka Filling Instructions

  1. Assemble marinade in a Ziploc bag, add chicken and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  2. When ready to cook, melt butter in a skillet on medium heat and add garlic, jalapeno, and potato.
  3. While the aromatics cook, remove chicken from marinade with a slotted spoon and add it and the onion to the pan. Discard the rest of the marinade. Cook until the onions are translucent and the chicken is cooked through.
  4. Dump the contents of the skillet into a mixing bowl and mix in the rest of the filling ingredients. Add salt to taste.
  5. Cover and plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Pasty Ingredients

  • 17.3 oz box of puff pastry
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs of water

Assembly and Baking Instructions

  1. Let puff pastry dough thaw according to package instructions. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut dough into 6 inch rounds using a dish as a guide or the bottom of a calzone mold.  Roll rounds about an inch larger on a lightly-floured surface using a rolling pin.
  3. Mix egg and water in a separate bowl. brush mixture around rim of each round.
  4. Add filling to half of round, fold closed, and crimp edges. Put each pasty on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Brush egg and water mixture to cover all exposed surfaces of each pie. Bake in the oven 20-25 minutes until golden brown. You can also put it on low broil during the last minute of baking to crisp up the crust.
  6. Allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes before serving.
 

The Gluttonous Geek

One Comment

  1. Ooh, as a desi food enthusiast I love this take! Seems likely too, little meat pies are popular and they have curried pea ones, so similar concept (British classic, Indian flavors).

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