As the cold weather persists, I find my little tribe hankering after good, old-fashioned rib sticking food. And first among their favourites, especially for the younger daughter, is a chicken pie. There is nothing quite like the crisp texture of pastry alongside a warm moist chicken filling. In Bowral, The Gumnut Patisserie makes the most scrumptious chicken pies, and we buy up big any time we are down that way. Sadly, we haven't been to the Southern Highlands in a long time. Alas, the freezer is empty but a Jamie Oliver pie recipe from Jamie's Dinners has caught my eye....
Despite generally approving of Jamie, his shows and his causes (especially the school food), I have had mixed success with his recipes. Maybe it is because I like a bit more precision in my instructions, or maybe it is the difference between produce in Australia and the UK, but I have had a bit of a hit and miss relationship with him. This pie was good, and we all enjoyed it, but it is not the ne plus ultra of chicken pies, despite its modest name. It is, however, worth making especially since the filling can be made up to two days in advance of final cooking and eating. Meanwhile, I will continue my search for the ultimate chicken pie, and report back later. Incidentally, I left out the pork sausages and I didn't thicken the sauce enough (how loose is loose?), so maybe that was where I went wrong....
The Best Chicken and Sweet Leek Pie With Flaky Pastryadapted from "Jamie's Dinners" by Jamie Oliver
1 kg boned and skinned chicken legs cut into pieces (I used chopped thigh fillets)
2 medium leeks, trimmed, washed and cut into 1cm rounds
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (I also added a couple of chopped potatoes)
3 sticks of celery, finely sliced
a handful of thyme
2 tbls flour
1 wineglass of white wine
285 ml milk
255g good pork sausages
500g puff pastry
Preheat oven to 220C. Take a large casserole pot and add a lug of olive oil and two knobs of butter. Add chicken, leeks, carrot, celery and thyme and cook slowly on the hob for 15 minutes. Turn the heat right up, add the flour, and stir for a couple of minutes before adding the wine, a wineglass of water and the milk. Season with a little salt and pepper, then cover with a tight lid and allow to simmer very slowly on the hob for 30-40 mins or until the chicken is tender. Stir from time to time to stop the bottom sticking. The sauce should be loose but quite thick. If it is too liquid, let it simmer a little longer with the lid off until it thickens. At this point you can let it cool and keep it in the firdge for a couple of days or eat it as a stew.
Pour the chicken mixture into a pie dish. Squeeze the meat out of the sausage skins, roll it into little balls, brown them in a little oil, and sprinkle them over the stew. Roll out your pastry to 1/2cm thick. Lightly beat egg with a fork, and brush over the rim of the dish. Lay pastry over the dish, and trim to fit, then egg-wash the top of the pastryto make it go golden. Lightly criss-cross the pastry with the back of a knife to help the pastry go crispy and flaky. Cook the pie in the centre of the oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden on top. Jamie suggests serving with sweetcorn and mash.