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It’s pie time! My parents were here to stay for a few days, and so I wanted a couple of dinners that I could make, with Molly’s assistance, ahead of time.

Given the cold and wet weather, I decided upon stew and this deliciously creamy pie. The pie went down very indeed. We devoured the lot, with not a scrap to spare. This is only the second time I’ve made this pie, but both times it’s been greatly appreciated, and whenever I’m hungry I often imagine eating this pie. Hurrah for pies!

The Pie – Serves 4 and 1 toddler

2 chicken breasts, skin off

450ml chicken stock, preferably homemade

75g butter

2 leeks, trimmed and sliced

2 celery sticks, sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

50g plain flour

200ml milk

Good glug of dry white wine

150ml double cream

250g ham, diced into chunks

Bunch of herbs, I used savoury, thyme, tarragon and flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 packet of all-butter puff pastry (I cheated!)

1 egg, beaten

Heat the stock in a saucepan, and cook the chicken breasts for ten minutes. Remove from pan, and leave on a plate to cool. Pour the liquid into a jug. Melt a third of the butter in a deep, wide pan, and add the leeks and celery. Cook until softened (about five minutes), adding the garlic towards the end. Add the remaining butter, and then add the flour, and cook for a further minute. Then slowly pour in the milk, bit by bit, stirring continuously. Next add the wine and stock, again stirring continuously. The sauce should thicken and shine. Cook for a few more minutes. Season heavily, then throw the herbs and remove from heat. Pour in the cream, and then stir in the ham, and slice up the chicken into chunks and add those too. Pour into the pie dish(es) that you’re using (I greased mine with butter) – makes enough for one large oval dish, and a mini pie in a ramekin for Molly. This can then be kept until you’re ready to cook the pies (I kept mine in the fridge for a day, but can equally be frozen until needed).

Next pre-heat the oven to 180c, and on a floured surface roll out the pastry to more than cover the pie dishes. Cut strips for the pie dishes, as well as some spare for the design (I did a bunny for Molly’s and a tulip for ours – neither were recognisable post-bake however).

Brush the edges of the dishes with beaten egg, and press a  strip of pastry all the way around. Brush again with egg-wash, and lay the pastry over, pinching at the edges. Brush all over with egg again, lay down the designs. Whack in the oven and bake until golden and risen (about twenty – twenty five minutes).

To Serve:

Some green beans and fine wine.

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