Pies and pastry are one of those things I don’t make very often as I usually have the idea that they are too fiddly and time-consuming – which is ridiculous given some of the other things I make without even thinking of course, but these feelings are never logical! I’ve become a keen fan of the Great British Bakeoff with the kids in the last couple of years and they’re keen to make more of the recipes we’ve watched, so maybe that will inspire me to more pastry challenges 🙂 As well as tackling other things I avoid like sponges…
For some reason however, pot pies seem much more straight forward (I think it’s mainly because there’s no threat of the dreaded soggy bottom!), so I quite often make individual beef pot pies in ramekins. Even though chicken pot pie seems to be the classic, I’ve never really tried making one, but I came across a couple of recipes, and I recently bought some very cute new enamel pie dishes, so of course I had to christen them 🙂
While there are a few steps to this, it is very easily made ahead in separate stages (just like lasagne) and both the filling and pastry could be made ahead and refrigerated, making the final baking very straightforward. I think you could also freeze the unbaked pies and cook from frozen, though I haven’t tried this myself.
The pastry is quite tender, but rolls easily once rested, and one of the pluses of individual pies is that you only need to handle relatively small pieces of pastry. As you can see I didn’t even really cut to shape, so it was actually very easy to top the pies – and you can certainly cut the tops to shape around the tins and crimp the edges if you like.
For the sauce, I particularly like the combination of mushroom and leek with the chicken, but you could really add any vegetables you like to the sauce – fennel, asparagus, pumpkin, spinach, or even good old peas and carrots would all be good depending on preference and season.
Chicken, leek, and mushroom pot pie
I adapted this recipe from a couple of different ones by Maggie Beer
- 250g plain flour
- 200g chilled unsalted butter
125ml sour cream
6 chicken thighs (you can either use skinless and boneless, or skin and bone after cooking)
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 large or two small leeks
- a pinch of salt
- 4 large mushrooms
40g plain flour
- 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 375ml juices or chicken stock (see method)
- 200ml cream
2 sprigs flat leaf parsley
2 large sprigs thyme
- 1 egg to glaze the pastry
To make the pastry, cut the butter into approximately 2cm cubes, and smear into the flour until it is mostly rubbed in with the rest in small flattened pieces. Add the sour cream and stir through with a butter knife or similar until it starts clumping together. Use your hands to briefly push together into a rough disk, and then wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a rectangle about 1cm thick. Fold one third into the middle, and the other side over the top like folding a letter in thirds. Turn the folded pastry 90° and roll out again, again folding into thirds. By the second fold the pastry should be smooth and even – see above. Wrap and refrigerate again for up to a few days.
For the filling, season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer in a baking dish, and coat lightly with the oil. Roast at 200C for about 20 minutes until cooked through. Put aside to cool. Cut the cooled chicken across the grain in approximately one cm slices. Pour any juices into a jug, and de-glaze the dish with boiling water, scraping up any caramelised goodness, to make a total of 375ml.
Heat the butter in a large frying pan, and saute the thinly sliced leeks over med-low heat, partially covered, until soft. If they start browning then reduce the heat. Increase the heat, add the sliced mushrooms and a pinch of salt, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are mostly cooked. Add the flour, stir through the vegetables and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the mustard and then stock/water mixture, stirring briskly to avoid lumps. Cook for a few minutes until thickened, then add the cream, and stir until it comes to the boil. Add the chicken and herbs, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cool and refrigerate for up to a couple of days.
For the pies, preheat the oven to 200C. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll to about 3mm thick. Cut to fit four individual pie dishes – approximately 15 x 10 cm. Divide the chilled filling between the pie dishes, and top each with the pastry. You can crimp the edges if you like. Use a fork or small knife to poke a hole in the centre of the pastry, then glaze the pastry with the beaten egg. If the pastry feels at all warm, then chill again for about 15 minutes, otherwise, put the dishes on an oven tray, and bake for about 30-35 minutes until the top is beautifully browned, puffed and flaky, and the filling is bubbling. Serve with peas or beans for a touch of green 🙂