13 January 2014

Homemade Chicken Pie

Cooking is one of my favourite hobbies.

My style traditionally involves lots of glugs of olive oil, sprinkling of oregano and splashes of lemon, but as the newly acclaimed 'wifey' to a very British gent, I thought I'd give the humble British Pie a look in.

As a kid I used to watch my dad bone a chicken carcass, ensuring not to waste an ounce of meat and then browse the cupboards for all sorts of unusual things to mix in with it. He'd sauté a bit of this and chop some of that and then toss it all together to produce the most magnificent flavours. 

My Paps is not the only resourceful little bunny! One of my stocking fillers this Christmas was Jamie Oliver's "Save with Jamie" recipe book.

The principle behind it is that nothing's wasted and having flicked through and gained some inspiration, today's recipe complies with just that rule. Aside from the chicken, you can use most things in your fridge to bulk up your pie. 

For the one I made, you'll need the following:

- 4 handfuls of leftover chicken (or a whole chicken)

- 3 tbsp of butter or a few glugs of olive oil

- 1 leek (sliced)

- 1 large onion (chopped into small pieces)

- 1 pack of streaky smoked bacon (sliced into small pieces)

- 5 or 6 mushrooms (sliced)

- 2 carrots (chopped into small pieces)

- 2 Bay leaves

- 1L of Stock (preferably chicken but vegetable is fine)

- Salt & Pepper for seasoning

- Fresh Thyme or Sage

- 500g Shortcrust pastry (feel free to make your own. I used this one)

- 1 egg (for basting the pastry at the end)

- 2 handfuls of flour

I should probably start off by saying that this pretty much took half the day to make from start to finish. Yes, she's a slow burner but as with most things, time and effort make a difference and it goes a long way. 

I started off with a raw whole chicken and so I placed it in a large saucepan, covered it in water, added a bay leaf and boiled it for about 1.5hrs. 

Remove it from the pan once cooked and set aside to cool. Save 1L of the stock in a jug and discard the rest (or depending on how domesticated you're feeling, you could use it to make soup with later).

Next step! Get your large saucepan back on the hob, add a bit of butter or olive oil and get it sizzling hot. Meanwhile, chop up your streaky bacon and onion, and throw the former in. Let that crispen up and brown off and then add your onion. Reduce the heat a little (to stop them from burning) and allow them to soften for about 5mins.  

Leaving some of the oil/fat in the pan, remove the bacon and onions and store in a bowl. Slice the leeks and mushrooms and add to the hot pan. You may want to add a tad more oil/butter at this point. Allow about 5mins for them to soften and place in the bowl with the other cooked ingredients.   

Finally, brown off your carrots for about 10mins on a medium heat with the last of your oil/butter. In the meantime, gather your leftover chicken (or remove all the meat from the carcass) and shred into bite size pieces. 

Your pastry will need to rest in room temperature for about an hour so set your timer and prepare for the big reunion.

The joining of all things tasty is now. Add the chicken to your carrots along with a handful of plain flour and all the other ingredients. Pour in the litre of stock and add your herbs and bay leaf. Let it simmer on a low heat for about 45mins. 

This will bind all those wonderful flavours together and form a thick sloppy colourful stew. 

See why I didn't bother making my own pastry? This British cooking lark takes long enough as it is, but it's the weekend so I don't mind. Having said that, we all deserve a reward. Pour yourself some wine, find a comfy spot and chill out! We're almost there, I promise! 

When the buzzer goes, it's time for the final steps. Turn off your heat, taste your masterpiece and season accordingly before pouring your mixture into a baking dish. 

Spread the last handful of flour on a clean surface and start rolling out your pastry. You want it big enough to cover your baking dish comfortably and thick enough to add some depth.  

Beat your egg in a bowl and brush the sides and top of the baking dish where your pastry is about to sit. 

Place the pastry on top and cut off any excess floppy bits from the sides (you'll need these little extras). Pinch the pastry all the way around the edges to create a seal and fork some holes in the top. 

Roll out your off cuts and create any shapes you like to decorate the top. I went with hearts. 

Once on top, egg wash the entire thing and place in the oven on 180 C for about 40mins. 

Hey presto, you got yourself a nice looking pie to please the masses. And that's exactly what it'll do. 

This mammoth dish generously fed my husband and I for two nights and made another two freezer friendly servings. The best part is, you don't really need to accompany with veg as it's packed with goodies, although a little gravy on the side is quite nice! 

Your very own humble pie made with dollops of love. Bon appetit

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