I sometimes get the craving for comfort eating, especially when the weather is like it is now – not quite sure whether it wants to embrace spring or shuffle back to winter. This week, we have had it all – the warmest March and the coldest April days!
I love savoury pies and especially rustic looking ones, which mine always are since I can’t bear to throw any spare pastry away and use them to decorate the top, even when I know I have over-done it. I use a good ready-made puff pastry as I think life is too short for making puff pastry from scratch. Just remember to remove it from the refrigerator 30 minutes before using, otherwise it will break as it would not be soft enough to roll.
CHICKEN, LEEK AND MUSHROOM PIE
300g (10 oz) meat from a roast chicken, shredded or cut into chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
25g (1 oz) butter
1 large onion, sliced
2-3 leeks, washed, trimmed and sliced (not too thinly)
300g (10 oz) chestnut mushrooms, cut into halves
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1 teasp wholegrain mustard
100ml white wine
250ml chicken stock
4-5 tbsp creme fraîche
Salt & pepper, to taste
300g (10 oz) block of readymade puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
In a large pan, heat the olive oil and melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the onions and fry for a couple of minutes, then add leeks and fry another minute or so. Add the mushrooms, turn the heat up and fry for another 2-3 minutes. This will help reduce the liquid given out by the mushrooms.
While the mushrooms are cooking, strip the leaves off the thyme sprigs and add to the pan with the mustard . Fry for a few more minutes until most of the liquid from the mushrooms have evaporated. Add the white wine, bring to boil for 2 minutes to reduce slightly, and then add the chicken stock. Reduce the heat and simmer for a 5 minutes before adding the chicken. The pan should smell deliciously of wine and thyme!
With heat still on low, add the creme fraîche and bring to a simmer. Add enough creme fraîche until the liquid is the consistency of single cream. Check seasoning, and pour mixture into a 24cm (10-inch) pie dish.
Turn your oven on to 400℃ or 200℃ electric, 180℃ fan oven, or gas mark 6.
Sprinkle your worktop with flour and roll out the pastry to roughly 5mm (¼ inch) thick and large enough to cover the pie dish. Cut off a 2cm (1-inch) strip long enough to cover the edge of the pie dish all around. Brush the edge of the dish with water and lay the strip on the edge of the dish. Brush more water on the strip.
Using the rolling pin, lift and place the pastry carefully over the pie dish. Remove any excess overhanging pastry with a palette knife. Press and crimp the edge of the pie dish using your fingers. Cut a cross in the middle of the pastry for vents, and using the remaining pastry, decorate the top with leaves, flowers or whatever takes your fancy.
Brush the top with the egg wash and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown. Best served hot and with a crispy or leafy green salad. And of course, a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc. Bliss!