Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Chicken and Leek Pie

Wasn't the Royal Wedding lovely? Didn't Kate look absolutely perfect (albeit incredibly skinny and, I maintain, with too much eyeliner) and how gorgeous did Pippa Middleton look? If we'd known she'd be such a star we'd have added her to the shortbread line-up.

Anyway, the wedding is over but life goes on and, in the Dine at Mine house, that means using up leftovers (in this case, chicken and pastry) in some kind of Jamie Oliver recipe. This is one of our absolute favourites - a creamy, mustardy chicken pie from 30 Minute Meals, which we've made about ten times since getting the book and which keeps getting better.

Of course, we've made some changes. Jamie says to use raw chicken, spring onions and mushrooms but we tend to use leftover roast chicken (because we roast chickens a lot - see also the fajitas), to swap the spring onions for leeks (just because we like them) and to skip the mushrooms (because we tend not to have them, although they're delicious when we do). Sometimes we've added some leftover ham from Nigella's ham in coke and let me tell you, if you thought chicken and leek pie was good, chicken, ham and leek pie is even better and I wish we'd had some ham around for this time.

Chicken pie used to be my absolute favourite meal when I was little, bar none, and the recipe was very traditional - white sauce, cooked chicken, peas and corn, covered with shortcrust pastry. My parents made it again a few years ago after a gap of ten years or so and although I was hugely looking forward to it, I was crushingly disappointed. It was really bland! Turns out, six year old tastebuds and twenty-six year old tastebuds disagree with each other. I've never felt so old. You can't ever go back, kids.

This pie is creamy and luscious but definitely not bland - it is flavoured with mustard, thyme, a wee pinch of nutmeg and, more importantly, the creamy sauce is made with creme fraiche and chicken stock rather than just a white sauce. Does this make it healthier? I like to think so. Either way, it's another time-saving Jamie Oliver white-sauce avoidance strategy and it is GREAT. Sorry White Sauce, but I think your days might be numbered (still love you in cauliflower cheese though!).

Chicken and Leek Pie
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals
Serves 4

- 1 pack of puff pastry - the all butter stuff really, truly is a lot nicer. I know, I was sceptical too, but it's true.
- 2 leeks, sliced
- butter, olive oil, salt and pepper
- a few handfuls of leftover roast chicken, torn into shreds (we had one whole breast and lots of shreds of leg etc)
- 1 tablespoonful of flour
- 1 tablespoonful of creme fraiche
- a few fresh thyme sprigs
- two teaspoons of mustard (we only ever have grainy and it's nice, but I think he suggests Dijon)
- 300ml of chicken stock (we had home made, she says smugly, and we'd left it cooking down for too long so it had jellified to the point of complete solidity! Exciting).
- a few shakes of ground nutmeg
- an egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 200C and get a large frying pan on the heat with a knob of butter and a splash of oil. 

Add your leeks and cook until they're soft and sweet, then add the chicken and the flour and stir. Chuck in the stock, creme fraiche, mustard, thyme, salt, pepper, stir well and leave to simmer for 5 minutes or as long as it takes you to sort out the pastry. By which I mean, roll it out, score the top with a sharp knife in harlequin patterns, beat your egg and find a pastry brush. 

Then transfer the creamy chicken mixture to a large pie dish, cover with the pastry, brush with beaten egg and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the top is golden and crispy. Yum!

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