I had my appendix out on Monday and have felt totally wack all week so in my world, that calls for pie.
It takes me back to childhood runs to Yatala Pies where I would always go the Chicken and Vegetable over a more traditional steak pie. Mmm...pie.
There are a million recipes for chicken pie - some complex, some simple. I'd like to present one on the simple side, with a bonus serve of 'choose your own adventure'. I don't make pies very often, so when I go to do it I look up a million recipes and can get somewhat overwhelmed. Tonight I reminded myself of just how easy it really is to make an awesome pie, so I thought I'd share it here.
This pie freezes well so I recommend making two small ones or doubling the recipe so you can have a delicious pie waiting for you some winter night when you just cannot even Menulog.
I believe the secret to a delicious chicken pie is to make a chicken casserole that you would happily eat in bowl from the spoon. So if you have an awesome chicken casserole recipe, why not thicken it up a bit and wack some frozen puff pastry around it!?
Instead of a traditional 'Ingredients' and 'Method' layout I'd like to present a 'Use What You Have in the House' recipe. Let me know what you think.
Use what you have, or buy chicken thighs. 1kg does two small/regular sized family pies in our house. I've seen recipes using leftover BBQ Chicken, a whole raw chicken that's then poached in stock and shredded, chicken breasts; just about every conceivable cut of chicken. Personally I shy away from chicken breast as I have the propensity to over cook those suckers in a casserole-type situation.
2. Tasty aromatic things:
Onions. Leeks. Garlic.
Use any or all of the above in your pie and things will be tasty. Tonight I used all three because I like to live on the edge. Arguably you don't need onion if you're using leek but hey, let's see how it turns out.
Please add 2-4 rashers of decent bacon. You won't regret it.
4. Something tart
White wine, dry cider, sherry or vinegar to deglaze the tasty pan after you've pan fried stuff. Delicious.
5. 'Foot' or 'Interest'
My favourite chicken pies have a really tasty filling and for that, we need an element of foot. Some pies feature crumbled stilton cheese (yum), others dried mushrooms, others mustard. Either way, for an 'adult' chicken pie, I highly recommend stirring in some tasty mustard, some funky mushrooms, some truffle oil or salt or all of the above! You won't regret it. Tread lightly though, you can always add more foot but you cannot take it away as easily!
6. Herbaceous, Audacious
Have herbs? Throw them in. Thyme, bay, parsley, a bit of rosemary, chives. All a delicious addition, although not strictly necessary. I forgot tonight and I swear there will be no complaints.
I simply use a bit of plain flour or cornflour for this bit. It's necessary so that you make a casserole, and not a soup.
8. Creaminess and sauciness
Tonight it's skim lactose-free milk (we're a bit dairy sensitive here) and simple chicken stock powder in boiling water. Feel free to use cream, creme fraiche, cream cheese, sour cream, full fat milk, evaporated milk in a can! Chicken stock is always best if it's homemade, but use what you have!
1. Dice the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper and sear in a hot pan. Set chicken aside.
2. Dice the bacon, onion/leek/garlic and any other vegetables you are using. Tonight we used carrot and mushrooms. Celery is also good.
3. Add some good oil, butter or both (mmm) to the chicken pan and saute the bacon, onion/leek/garlic and other veg until the onion is transparent and you are starting to feel excited.
4. Add the chicken back to the pan, season the whole lot with salt and pepper. I also added nutmeg at this stage because I love nutmeg added to any sauce that's going to be creamy. I added mustard powder at this stage because I couldn't be assed opening a jar of actual mustard. Season to taste. For us, that means heaps of everything!
5. Deglaze the pan with your tart liquid - cider, wine, white wine vinegar, balsamic, probably even beer would work! Tonight I used a glug of sauv blanc that has been open in the fridge for an unknown number of weeks.
6. Stir through 1/4 cup of plain flour or cornflour. This will soak up all the lovely juices in the pan and make things seem a little gluggy. Fear not.
7. Add 2-3 cups of liquid- for us tonight it was half stock, half skim milk. You might have mostly stock and add in some richer creamy ingredient like sour cream or cream cheese. Stir until the mixture is smooth. You might add some more foot here with truffle oil, porchini mushrooms, more mustard. Tonight we used this absolutely insane white truffle oil we bought in Tuscany over Christmas, because we are up ourselves like that. This is also a great time to add your herbs, if using. You can simmer this for up to half an hour to intensify the flavours. Note that flimsy herbs like parsley flavour better when used right at the end of the cooking process.
8. Whack your oven on conventional mode at 180 degrees. Pull out your very fancy home brand puff pasty from the freezer and thaw for a few minutes. If you can make your own or have a preferred brand of frozen gear, do that!
Get a round or rectangle pie dish and grease lightly. Line the bottom with a piece of pasty (I truly believe pies that only have a pastry top are a hate crime) and ladle your lush, thick and creamy chicken casserole on top. Lay another piece of puff pastry on top and brush it with milk or beaten egg, if you like. This will help it go extra golden in the oven.
9. Bake until the pastry puffs up and you can see the filling bubbling at the sides. Serve piping hot as a stand alone dinner, or go all out with chicken gravy, mashed potato and steamed beans. Gather a crowd and pour that vino. This is going to one cracker of a winter's night!
Let me know - what's your favourite chicken pie recipe? Can you actually MAKE puff pastry?! Can you teach me?
xoxo Brisbane Foodie