Stairway To Heaven Hens In Paris Pastry

This recipe is good for left-over chicken, it looks magnificent and it freezes well. It has the added advantage of being a complete meal in itself – protein (the chicken), carbohydrate (the pastry) and vegetable (the broccoli). And there’s only one piece of music to listen to as you make it – just listen a couple of times and you’ll have it done…. When you’ve finished, sit down and watch Gene Kelly’s mesmerising dance routine, to Gershwin’s inimitable music, at the end of American in Paris. You’ll find both at the bottom of this post.

If you can’t find Paris (or croissant) pastry, bear in mind that it’s really just puff pastry with some yeast and sugar added to it. Either use all-butter (which rises a bit better) puff pastry and dredge discreetly (ie not whole drifts) with icing sugar, or make it yourself using the simple recipe on Joe Pastry’s blog.  

Serve with a simple green salad.

For six

  • 500g/2 cups/ cooked chicken breast (about five small breasts)
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 120g/1 cup/4 oz grated cheddar
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed with 2 tsp smoked salt
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 120ml/½ cup mayonnaise
  • 500g/1 lb croissant dough – my local village shop provides this (in the form of unbaked croissants), but you can buy 2 x 250g Jus Roll tins of croissant dough
  • 1 egg white – or some milk
  • 50g flaked almonds or pine nuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Divide the broccoli into florets.
  3. Fry the onion, the garlic and the pepper.
  4. Mix in the rest of the ingredients except the last three.
  5. Grease a large baking tray and lay out the croissant pastry in a long rectangle on it, pinching together where necessary with your fingers.
  6. Place the filling to form its own long rectangle down the middle of the pastry, leaving a little space at each end.
  7. Cut horizontal lines to the right and left of the filling a couple of inches (4 cm) apart.
  8. Pull the right and left strips together and twists (so they are ‘holding hands’) in the centre.
  9. Bring up each of the ends so they are pinched loosely together with the nearest central twist.
  10. Brush with the egg white or milk.
  11. Bake about 20 minutes.
  12. Brush again, and sprinkle with the nuts, bake for a further five minutes.

Music to cook to

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