Subconsciously I must have known it was ‘British Pie Week’ (as created by Jus-Rol the makers of ready to roll pastry!) as I’d been thinking creamy chicken pie with mushrooms or leeks for a few days. And to do credit to Jus-Rol it was their pastry I used – there was a half packet near the top of the freezer leftover from a previous pie-making moment that was begging to be put to good use – and so out it came to be defrosted.
Now I know you can say its not exactly home cooking to use ready made pastry and if it had been shortcrust that was needed I might have made my own as I’m finally quite good at it. I used to be rubbish at pastry but I think your hands just get colder as you get older so you get better without trying – at least in relation to making shortcrust pastry ;). But I find that a hot meaty pie needs a puff pastry top because really I love the way it gets all crispy on the top and soggy next to the filling without ending up too heavy or stodgy. Plus we have to remember that sometimes a few quick cheaty bits in the kitchen help to deliver a different dish – if I’d thought I’d have to make puff pastry myself, something not attempted since domestic science at school (such a great name to inspire teenagers to cook –what were they thinking) then there’d have been no pie.
So cheats pastry it was (come on, Delia cheats what can be wrong with it?).
To the pie filling. This was an amalgam of having read many recipes over the years and just thinking through what I wanted. Creamy but not too creamy; so crème fraiche instead of double cream. I wanted the mushrooms to play as big a part as the chicken – well I would they are in my top 5. And that was pretty much were I was coming from.
So chop an onion and sauté in a little butter (for me onion just adds
a nice tangy sweet flavour to any savoury dish – its a staple ingredient). I also added a couple of rashers of bacon chopped up small - because I had some thereto use up. Then add the mushrooms chopped into medium chunks or left whole if they are tiny. I used some big portobello’s and some small chestnut mushrooms to get to different textures – the portobello’s are softer the chestnut ones quite dense. Cook down a bit until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the chicken cut into bite sized chunks, a splash of white wine bring to a simmer and add the crème fraiche. Cook it down a little so it’s thickening up. Putit in the pie dish (remember you need a pie funnel if the dish is deep).
Roll out your home made (swot) or cheaty pastry (top marks for thinking ahead) to a good inch larger than the pie dish. Cut off about ½ inch of this extra and use it to create a pastry rim round the dish – even if you don’t need one it means there’ll be some extra crispy crust. Moisten the pastry rim and the lid and apply lid to rim. Pinch together with your fingers then knock up the edges with a knife to help give some extra lift. Cut a slit to allow the steam out. Apply decorative pastry patterns with any remaining pastry. Into the oven it goes – gas 6 (200C/400F) for around 30 minutes to cook the pastry.
Serve with a flourish but hope that it doesn’t collapse like mine did, the filling was a long way below the pastry – still tasted great though.