Using dishes available
When I first moved out of home, I had quite a glory box stashed away – linen, lots of pottery, fine bone china, kitchen odds and ends etc. I also had a few cookbooks – not many, as I had not done much cooking apart from at school, and didn’t know how much I would come to enjoy playing around with food later on. This was pre-Internet too (wow, I cannot imagine going back to that!).
One of the cookbooks I had was a small, slim hardback, a pocket sized book almost, containing chicken recipes. It was part of a set, and I think I had 3 or 4 different ones. I can’t remember much about the books, but I do know that my chicken pie recipe came from this time, and was one of the first successful recipes I actually cooked in my new “adult” life. For many years it was a staple in my house, and I later adapted it to make a vegetarian version by just leaving out the chicken and putting in chunks of carrot, potato, pumpkin or whatever else I had lying around.
This week I decided to make a chicken pie for the first time in about 4 or 5 years. The only trouble was, as I am in between houses (move part 1 down, move part 2 coming up in about 10 days’ time!) and most of my kitchen stuff is in boxes, I have limited baking dishes at hand – and my favourite pie dish is not at hand! I am trying to use up what is in the fridge/freezer this week, and I had two sheets of shortcrust pastry to use, but they don’t quite stretch to fit the larger-than-pie-dish I had available. I ended up just improvising and making the shape of the pie slightly freeform (that’s all the rage now anyway, right?) within the dish. I was a bit worried the filling might ooze out during cooking, but in fact it worked out really well and was totally delicious.
Freeform is trendy…
Conveniently using a store-bought cooked chook, this pie is great cold the next day, and also reheats well.
I did blind-bake the underneath pastry sheet this time, but if short of time I don’t always bother – it depends how you like your pastry, and I don’t mind mine a bit soft and raw underneath (and yeah, I did used to nick bits of pastry and raw sausage meat when Mum was making sausage rolls, as a kid).
I also had to place a square of foil over the centre after the first 10 mins or so, or else the pastry would have burnt.
Served with eggplant skewers
1 barbequed chicken
2 sheets frozen puff or shortcrust pastry, thawed
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
2 button mushrooms, finely chopped
½ green capsicum, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
⅔ cup milk
1 ¼ cups chicken stock
cracked pepper, to taste
beaten egg, to glaze
Line a greased pie dish with 1 sheet of pastry. Optional – bake-blind for a few minutes until puffed up slightly.
Pull the meat from the cooked chicken, discarding skin/bones. Depending on the size of the chicken you will probably need about ⅔ of it, so put the rest aside to use in something else.
Chop the chicken meat and place in a dish with the mushroom, capsicum, celery and parsley. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat; add flour, stir well to break up any lumps and cook until bubbling. Add the milk first and then the chicken stock, gradually, stirring constantly to form a smooth sauce. When all liquid is incorporated, fold the chicken mixture through the sauce and gently combine over low heat for a minute or so.
Pour chicken mixture into pie dish. Top with the second sheet of pastry, press down to seal edges, and glaze with beaten egg.
Bake in 200C oven for approx 30 minutes, or until pastry is puffed up and golden brown. If the pastry puffs up too quickly and starts to burn, cover with a square of foil over the centre.
For vegetarian version – leave out the chicken and instead, add chunks of vegies of your choice – if using hard vegies like potatoes, partially steam for a couple of minutes in the microwave first before adding them to the sauce. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken.
Serves 4-6 depending on appetites and what you have with it.