Tuesday 20 September 2011

Chicken and leek pie

Looking for something easy of a Sunday evening (oi, no sniggering at the back there!), I decided to try to the Hairy Biker’s chicken and leek pie from the October 2011 edition of the Good Food magazine.

It’s been about (counts on fingers) 20 years since I made pastry, at my mammy’s knee. Nothing’s changed in pastry making in that time. So, for the pastry…

350g flour
200g butter
1 egg
A glass of water, with a spoon
Either tip the flour and butter into the food processer and blitz or in a bowl, rub the butter into the flour until it all looks like breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and mix. Add the water a spoonful at a time until it all comes together in a ball.
Pop it onto a plate and cover with cling film.

For the filling, you’ll need:
3 chicken filets
A knob of butter
2 leeks, chopped
A few cloves of garlic to taste
About 50g of butter
About 50g flour
About 200ml milk
About 150ml cream
About 200ml stock
Salt and pepper

Poach the chicken in some stock (you’ll probably need more than the 250ml cited above) for about 10-15 mins. Once done, cut them into bite-sized pieces and keep the cooking liquid for the sauce.

While the chicken is cooking, you can get on with the rest of the dish. Melt the knob of butter in a large pot and sweat out the leeks. Cook them for about 5 mins and add the crushed garlic and lardons and cook for another couple of minutes. When done, transfer this to a bowl.

In another saucepan, melt the 50g of butter and then add the flour. Cook this for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Off the heat, add the milk, bit by bit, stirring until the first bit is incorporated before adding the next bit. Add the stock and bring to the boil to cook through. Pour in the cream and season as you like. Add the chopped up chicken and the leek mixture and stir to combine.

For the fun bit: heat the oven to 200 degrees and line a 23 cm pie dish. Pie dishes seem to be a bit hard to come by in Belgium, so I used a cake tin. It worked perfectly. Let your baking paper hang over the edges - I usually line the bottom with two long, wide pieces of baking paper at right angles to each other and out of the tin to use as handles once it's cooked and a circle of baking paper on top of this.

Divide the pastry into 2/3 + 1/3. Roll the 2/3 out to fit into your dish – including the sides! (about 3-4 millimetres thick). Brush the edges of the pie with beaten egg. Pour in the chicken and leek filling. Roll the 1/3 to fit the top of your dish and lay this across. Press to seal the edges and brush the top with the rest of the beaten egg. Make a hole in the centre to let out the steam, and pop into your oven for about 35-40 mins.

Once cooked, let it cool for a good bit before eating (cooling it also makes it easier to remove from the cake tin). We ate this au natural with a bottle of good beer to wash it down.

Variations: I omitted the lardons and replaced them with some left over carrot and peas. You could also add a spoonful of your favourite mustard to the sauce once it’s cooked. A couple of tarragon leaves or other herbs such as parsley or chives mightn’t go amiss either. The leeks are changeable too with whatever veg you have around, such as spinach (make sure it’s very well dried first) or mushrooms.

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