Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Who ate all the pie?

On Saturday my friend Joni (of tagine fame) came round for supper. Actually, that is rather misleading. I invited Joni to come and have supper with me whilst I babysat my little nephew.
This effectively meant that Joni picked up all the ingredients for supper and also took charge of most of the cooking. I'd like to pretend that we cooked this pie together, but actually she did most of the work. I did sauté some leeks though. And chop up some garlic. And shred the chicken. And suggest we added a stock cube. But Joni did all the hard graft - she made the white sauce and also dealt with the pastry.
I love a good pie. There is something comforting, homely and 'complete' about sitting down to a crisp layer of buttery pastry sheilding meltingly tender meat and vegetables basking in a tasty sauce. I confess here that we cheated a little. We could have roasted a chicken ourselves, but in fact, we used a rotisserie chicken from the deli counter. It still tasted delicious. We also used up some ready-made pastry that was lurking in my freezer. Not that it would take much longer to whip up your own, of course. But sometimes short-cuts can be useful and the pastry tasted pretty good to us as it happens.
Once the pie was assembled, we stood back and admired our handy work. It was decorated with stars (of course) and our initials. How we laughed at the size! What a huge pie for two people, we joked. There will be plenty left over - this would feed at least six. In theory. In reality, it was so utterly delicious that we both had huge helpings AND seconds. There wasn't a great deal of pie left at the end, I have to say. Enough for three. Four at a push. Six? Not a chance. Unless three of your guests are vegetarian.
Chicken and leek pie
Serves 4 (in theory)
1 cooked chicken (roasted with herbs and lemon would probably be good)
3 large leeks
large handful (or two) of frozen peas (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 good quality stock cube
2oz butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 pint of milk
1 heaped tablespoon creme fraiche (or, if you are throwing caution to the wine, a good slug of double cream)
8oz shortcrust or puff pastry (or enough to cover the pie dish that you have, when rolled out)
1 egg, beaten
1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the leeks with the chopped garlic. Once nicely softened, set to one side.
2. Shred the chicken into bit-sized pieces. White and brown meat. Just do this quite haphazardly - no need to have perfect chunks. The more rustic, the better.
3. Make a white sauce by melting the butter and adding the flour to make a roux. Stir with a wooden spoon and heat for a minute or so. Add the milk, a little at a time, stirring after each addition until you have a smooth, creamy sauce. Stop adding the milk when the sauce is a desirable consistency - it should stick slightly to the back of the spoon. Stir in the cream fraiche and crumble the stock cube over the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add the leeks, chicken and frozen peas. Stir to combine and then pour into a large pie dish.
5. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface. Moisten the edge of your pie dish with a little water and place pastry over the dish, pushing down at edges to sea. Trim to leave a clean edge and use trimmings to decorate with a design of your choice. Use water to stick shapes onto pastry.
6. Cut a few slashes in the top of the pie to allow air to escape and then brush the top with beaten egg so that it browns up nicely.
7. Bake in oven for around half an hour, until the top is nicely browned and the glorious smell of chicken pie is filling the kichen. Serve with simple veg such as broccoli (which could, equally go inside the pie) or carrots.
Wine notes - I would drink a nice, well-made oaked chardonnay with this dish. You want a creamy note in the wine to match the creaminess of the sauce.


Jules said...

I admit I'm a pie-a-holic. I just love the sound as you cut through the pastry to get to the comforting filling.

Great photographs.

Rosie said...

Hi Antonia, this is just the ultimate comfort food! My family adore chicken & leek pie too.

Wonderful photos and love the star decorations on the pie too :D

Rosie x

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Great-looking pie!

Peter M said...

I'd say you salvaged an otherwise ho-hum evening babysitting.

The pie crust looks picture perfect, the filling ingredients, comformting of course.

Antonia said...

Jules - oh I know what you mean about the sound. There really is nothing quite like a pie!

Rosie - thank you - glad you like the decorations! Everyone seems to enjoy a good chicken pie, don't they? Thank you for visiting, as always!

aforkfulofspaghetti - thank you!

Peter - yes, it really improved the evening. I wish I had one right now, I have a horrible cold and think this would just do the trick!

Bellini Valli said...

Lovely to look at Antonia and probably tasted even better. I love friends who cook!!!!!!

amysep said...

This really looks lovely. I really like the addition of leeks. It really makes it a sophisticated (as us American's would say) "Chicken Pot Pie"... which to me sounds gross. BUT, a "Chicken and Leek Pie" sounds beautiful! Looks really comforting. Nice blog! - amy @

Margaret said...

I love homemade chicken and leek pie. It looks absolutely delicious.

Antonia said...

Val - thank you. I was quite pleased with how it turned out. And yes, it is so fun to catch up with friends over a little pottering in the kitchen!

Amy - thank you! It is funny how a change of title can make a dish sound more appetising. When she was little, my sister refused to eat baked gammon. If my mother told her it was baked ham though, she would happily eat it up and ask for seconds!

Margaret - thank you. It is such a comforting dish, isn't it?

Margaret said...

Hi Antonia - Update - I made the tagine last night. It is a winner! We both loved every mouthful. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Mx