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What Is Chicken Pastel?

By Rachael Cullins
Updated May 16, 2024
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Chicken pastel is a traditional savory casserole dish originating in the Philippines. It includes marinated chicken, sausage, vegetables, and some sort of pastry or pastry-like topping. It may also be referred to as Filipino pie or Filipino chicken pie.

The dish comes from the Philippines and stems from a Spanish version of a chicken pot pie. In Spanish, the dish is known as pastel de pollo and is similar to a pot pie or empanada. The chicken in the pie may be replaced with any kind of meat, including pork or duck.

There are many variations of chicken pastel, and Filipino families often have their own traditional interpretations. In nearly every version of the dish, diced chicken meat is first marinated in a mix of soy sauce and lemon juice for at least one hour, giving it a rich, tangy flavor. The chicken is then browned in a skillet along with sausage. Vienna or chorizo sausages are common, but a hot dog could be substituted for real sausage.

After browning the meats, stock liquid, optional cooking wine or cream, and a variety of vegetables are added to the pan and simmered until tender. Any kind of vegetables can be used in chicken pastel. Mushrooms, peppers, onions, potatoes, and peas are popular additions. Shredded or grated cheese is sometimes added to the meat-and-vegetable mixture to enhance flavor and increase the creaminess of the dish.

Adding crust and baking the dish is the last step to completing chicken pastel. There are several methods for making a crust. After simmering, the chicken and vegetables are transferred to a baking dish, where they can be topped with homemade dough or a store-bought variety. Lining the pan with puff pastry sheets and covering the meat mixture is another option. One could even use crushed-up potato chips to create a crust.

Filipinos often eat the finished chicken pastel with rice. The pie is one of many traditional meals from the Philippines, which often include some sort of meat in a sauce or stew dish. Many Filipino foods have Spanish or Mexican roots and were brought to the Philippines by settlers long ago. The influx of a Chinese population in later years inspired the heavy use of rice in Filipino cooking. Different regions of the Philippines have their own styles and traditions for cooking, one reason why chicken pastel has so many variations and possibilities.

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