Personally I love this, and probably could eat it a couple, three, five times a week. But Mom only made it once in a while and it was a special occasion kind of dish.
The original recipe calls for white asparagus, but my mom made it with mushrooms, so that's the way I do it as well. However, she also added Asparagus from time to time as well. So, it's up to you. Gee you could also go wild and add both to it, trust me it tastes wonderful. And I know this, cause I just did it.
And I use a couple of shortcuts as well. You can do it this way as well, or make your own sauce.
Puff Pastry Sheets (I'm using the frozen stuff for this recipe)
Too basic? I know, but since I already know how to make it, I don't need more than that. But if you like, I'll share the step by step.
To start with, cook your chicken breasts til they are tender. Believe it or not a good hour in the pot with some carrots, onions, or leeks and celery to flavour the stock, and just let them simmer. When the chicken is tender, take them out and chop them up. Then strain the stock, and reserve a couple of cups for the sauce and freeze the rest, you just got a good base for home made soup. (nothing like a multi purpose dish). You can also use a whole chicken, cooked and cut up for this, or even a rotisserie chicken. I've done it all the ways.
For the sauce, you could use canned Mushroom Soup for this (and yes, I've used Canned Mushroom soup for this many times, just don't dilute it, or just make your own soup. Or you can do the following. I believe in options, lots of options.
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half and half
8 oz sauteed mushrooms, chopped or sliced, you choose
1/4 cup finely chopped onion, sauteed
1 garlic clove, minced, sauteed
1 tablespoon each, butter and olive oil
1/4 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup chicken broth or be really decadent and
mix 1/4 cup flour or cornstarch with 2 tablespoons butter and stir that in.
2 cups cooked, diced chicken
Saute the sliced mushrooms and onions til they are just cooked through and the onion is softened in a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic and saute an additional minute or so, set aside. I don't let any of them get brown, you just want them cooked through.
Heat broth and half and half to just under boiling, then add the thickening agent, either the cornstarch and broth or the roux, and stir it in. Let it come to a low simmer, and let it cook for a couple of minutes to get the raw taste out, then add the mushrooms and onion, continue to let it simmer for a few more minutes.
Then you add the chicken, mushrooms and let it heat up. At the end add a can of asparagus, and just let it heat through a little. The asparagus breaks up very easily, so you don't want to stir it in.
Now for the fun part, the tarts. I outsmarted myself this time. I thought, ooh, I can make teeny little bites using the pastry and baking them in my mini tart pans. Well, let me just show you what happened.
After baking. Kinda hard to fill those up. (although I did cut them in half later on, and use the top and bottom to put filling in, hey, life hands you lemons, make lemonade or in this case, tart shells).
So then I went a more labor intensive route. But the end result, well worth it.
You have to kind of noodge the rounds together. Oh you do need to brush the bottom round with a lightly beaten egg, it helps it to stick together. I did take out the center cut, and baked them separately.
As you can see, these worked. I even took more out of the center with a sharp paring knife, cutting very carefully around and prying out that center bit. Made more room for the filling. Very important that, the ratio of filling to tart.
These had the chicken, mushroom and asparagus mixture (and the picture is fuzzy, bad picture taking night I guess)
These were the vegetarian ones. I did the whole kit and caboodle on these. Made some veggie stock from scratch, simmered a mixture of vegetable stock and cream together and then thickened them with a roux, and added the mushrooms and asparagus.
And just to let you know, you can buy the Puff Pastry tart shells already made, just bake them off in a hot oven, 400 degrees, for about 18 minutes or until browned, pull out the little cap, and then place them back in the oven for a few minutes to finish cooking. While they are baking, heat up a can or two of Cream of Mushroom soup, add a cup or two of cooked chopped chicken, and some sauteed mushrooms or even a can or two of mushrooms. Heat together and spoon into the baked pastry shells. Now, how easy is that? hmmm, and to think I played in the kitchen with the tart shells, and chicken mixture for over an hour, sigh. But it was good and worth it.
There were a few leftovers, but I'm enjoying them for lunch this week. Like I said before, I could eat this two, three, five times a week.