Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Potato Stuffed Puff Pastry Squares

If you are looking for a nice side dish, especially for a chicken entree, I think you will like this one.  It would also be nice for brunch served alongside a tossed salad.

It's seasoned to pair well with poultry, it's not difficult to prepare and can be prepared ahead of time, it's filling, and will give your plate an elegant flare.

This clipping was pulled from a Winter of 1997 Penzey's spice catalogue.  The ingredients call for Italian Herb Mix.  If you don't have one already you can always make your own.  You have a wide choice of herbs to pick from; oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, sage, and rosemary.  You don't have to have all of those in your blend; in fact, for this particular recipe, if your rosemary is not finely ground I would omit rosemary from your blend.  There just isn't enough cooking time and moisture in this to soften the rosemary; you don't want to bite into what feels like tough pieces  of grass.  It's a texture thing with me.

One suggestion might be 2 tsp. each of basil, marjoram and oregano and 1 tsp. of sage.  Blend that together and you'll use 2 tsp. of the blend in the recipe.

A very important step in this recipe is to eliminate the moisture from the potato and broccoli mixture once they are tender.  The last thing you want is an overly moist, runny stuffing.

There are leeks and mushrooms that nicely flavor the stuffing.

Throw the leek & mushrooms in with the potato/broccoli mixture along with the herbs, part of the milk & Parmesan cheese.

Grab a potato masher and take your pent up frustrations out on your stuffing.  I like it somewhat chunky but you can make it as smooth as you like.

Placing the stuffing and fontina on the pastry squares

 Sealed, painted with the egg-milk mixture and ready for the oven.

See how I shaped the mounds of stuffing into a round mound?  You can also make them square.

I had a good 1/2 cup of filling left over.  I could have used a little more in each square but the recipe suggested to err on the side of too little stuffing.  So I erred.

I was afraid the filling was going to be too dry, but the fontina added just the right amount of moisture and flavor.

Make only what you need.  Puff pastry is just not the same as a leftover.

Potato Stuffed Puff Pastry Squares
Adapted from Penzey's
Serves 4

1 lb. (2 sheets) puff pastry, frozen
1 medium potato
1/2 cup broccoli stems
2 tsp. Italian herb mix
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
1 Tbsp. water
1/4 lb. mushrooms (a large handful)
1 regular-sized leek
2 tsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. milk, divided
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 lb. fontina cheese
1 egg

Mise en place:
  • remove puff pastry sheets from the box and inner bag, let thaw at room temperature while preparing stuffing
  • peel & quarter potatoes
  • peel the stems (also known as 'trunks' when I was a wee lass) of the broccoli and chop into small pieces
  • combine the herb mix, garlic & water and set aside
  • with a paper towel, wipe mushrooms clean and roughly chop
  • slice the leek in half lengthwise.  Peeling back layers, rinse thoroughly to remove any sand.  Slice white part only into thin slices
  • measure out 2 Tbsp. milk
  • grate Parmesan cheese
  • slice fontina in 1/4" thick slices
  • beat egg in small dish with remaining 2 Tbsp. milk
Preheat oven to 400°F.  Cook potato in boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes.  Toss the broccoli pieces in with the potatoes during the last 5 minutes of the potato's cooking time.

In a large fry pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and leeks.  Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms and leeks are soft and just a bit golden, (about 4 minutes), remove from heat.

Drain the water from the potato and broccoli.  Cover pan with a lid and let dry over low heat for a minute.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Add the mushroom/leek mixture, the 2 Tbsp. reserved milk, Parmesan cheese, the herb mixture, salt & pepper.

Mash with a hand masher until the desired consistency is reached (a little chunky is nice, but you can make it totally creamy if you like).  Let cool a bit.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper so the pastries don't stick during baking.

Lightly flour a work surface large enough to spread out the two sheets of puff pastry.  Lay the pastry out, sprinkle with flour and roll lightly with a rolling pin just to even out the creases.  Turn the pastries over, sprinkling a bit more flour on the work surface if the dough seems to be sticking.  Divide each large square into four equal smaller squares.

Place a large spoonful of the stuffing mixture in the middle of four of the pastry squares, leaving the outer inch of pastry bare.  Top each mound of stuffing with two slices of fontina cheese each.

Working with one square at a time, brush a bit of the egg-milk mix around the outside edge of the dough (using a pastry brush), and place another square on top, gently molding the square around the top and base of the stuffing.  Run your finger around the outside edge to seal the two pieces of dough together.  The object is to have as much stuffing on the inside as possible, without having so much that you can't get a good seal on the dough and the filling oozes out during cooking.

After filling, topping, and lightly sealing the edges of all four squares, press for tines around the edges in a nice pattern, making a good seal.  Poke a hole in the top with the fork, then brush the entire top sheet with the egg-milk mixture.

Using a spatula, place the pastries on the baking sheet and into the oven for about fifteen minutes, until golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and the pastries from the pan, using a spatula, then let cool for a few minutes before serving.

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