This savoury chicken and cheese strudel from Julie Goodwin is just the ticket if you’re after some hearty comfort food during Spring’s chillier nights. It’s from the original MasterChef winner’s new book Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook (Hachette), bursting with yummy, practical dishes.
Serves 6 Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: about 40 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
800 g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3 cm cubes
200 g button mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons plain flour 1¼ cups milk
1 tablespoon Dijon or French mustard
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup grated tasty cheese
2 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
4 shallots (spring onions), finely sliced
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large, heavy-based frypan over medium-high heat and brown half of the chicken. Remove to a bowl and repeat with another teaspoon of oil and the remaining chicken. The chicken only needs to have some golden colour; it doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through at this stage.
2. Heat the remaining oil in the pan and sauté the mushrooms and garlic until the garlic is fragrant and translucent, and the mushrooms are a light golden colour. The mushrooms will release liquid as they cook, so continue to cook until this liquid evaporates.
3. Return the chicken to the pan and sprinkle the flour over the top. Stir to coat the chicken. Stir in the milk, ¼ cup at a time, allowing the sauce to cook and thicken between each addition. When all the milk is added, bring the sauce to a simmer and stir in the mustard, salt, pepper and two-thirds of the cheese. Simmer for a few minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove to a bowl and allow to cool.
4. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place 2 sheets of puff pastry on a sheet of baking paper on a large cutting board. Brush 1 cm of the edge of one sheet with a little beaten egg, and overlap another sheet over it. Press the edge to join the sheets together into a large rectangle. Turn the rectangle so it is vertical on the bench. Using the back of a butter knife or a skewer, make faint lines on the pastry to divide it into equal thirds lengthways. Cut off the top two corners of the large rectangle to form a point. At the base of the large rectangle, cut a square out of the left and right thirds of the pastry. It should now resemble the shape of a big straight Christmas tree.
5. On the left and right thirds of the large rectangle (not the middle third), make incisions about 1.5 cm apart, following the angle of the upper point of the pastry and going to each edge. These will form your pastry braids for the strudel. Once the pastry is cut, lift it, still on the baking paper, onto a large baking tray.
6. Place the cooled chicken mixture along the middle third of the pastry, stopping short of the pointy and square-cut end. Sprinkle with the sliced shallots and the remaining cheese. Fold the pointy end over the chicken mixture, then fold the square end of the pastry over. Then, alternating from left to right, fold the strips of pastry over the chicken mixture. It will look a bit like a braid. Brush liberally with egg and bake for 20–25 minutes or until a deep golden brown. This is lovely served hot or at room temperature.