Friday, 6 January 2012

Idle Chicken Pie

January means one thing for some people: detox. Or if not detox, at least a curbing of recent gluttonous excess. Personally I'm not one for depriving myself, being a firm believer in the possibility of eating healthily while still allowing a little of what I love. Mr Eve, on the other hand, is a passionate detoxer, trying every January to cut down on sugar and alcohol. Which leads us to a slight problem this year, for my idle baking is at odds with his dietary resolutions.

So we've come to a deal: I'll only bake the healthiest sweet foods this month, and I'll also branch out into some savoury baking options too. So first up, the tastiest and simplest Chicken Pie ever, using my old family recipe for a truly scrumptious and wholesome supper.

My mother's recipe.

Serves 4

350g ready made shortcrust pastry, thawed if frozen
1 roasted chicken, or cooked chicken breast and thigh pieces, room temperature
leftover gravy, room temperature
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 large leek
large handful of fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, 1 bay leaf
30g salted butter or margarine
30g plain flour
1 pint whole milk
1 egg white, lightly beaten

1. Turn the oven to 180C (160C fan ovens).

2. Finely chop the onion, leek and carrot then fry it gently over a medium heat.

3. Tear the chicken off the bone, cutting it into small pieces.

4. Place the leek, onion and carrot in a good sized pie dish, along with the herbs and chicken meat.

5. To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. When melted add the flour, mixing thoroughly, and turn the heat down a little. Once combined, stir in the milk little by little, until well combined.

6. Reheat the gravy before adding it to the white sauce, and mixing well.

7. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and vegetables in the pie dish, until just covering them.

8. Roll out the pastry to about 2cm wider than the pie dish.

9. Place the cut pastry top over the dish and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork dipped in cold water. Decorate the top with pastry leaves or birds from the leftover pastry.

10. Cut a cross in the middle of the pie top to allow the steam to escape as it cooks. Alternatively if you're using a very deep pie dish you could place a china baking bird in the middle of the pie under the slashes.

11. Brush the pastry with beaten egg, before placing in the oven to bake for approxmately 30-35 minutes. Check after 20 minutes - if it is browning too quickly turn the oven down.

12. When baked, take out of the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with wilted spring greens.

This pie was idly baked while listening to the Tom Waits album Bad As Me.

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