Monday, May 17, 2010

Chicken & Leek Pie

Made this the week before last as an experiment. It's still so bloody cold in London - I planted seeds out a month ago which, after a momentary sprouting, are now dormant. Soon to be dead I fear if the sun does not return. Yesterday there was a massive hail storm, night time temperatures are all in single figures and day time feels the same most days. Grrrrr.

Even if it's not as cold as it was in February bbq weather it ain't. So I wanted the comfort and pleasure of a pie but one that was not as dense and rich as a beef pie would be. I'd been thinking about poaching chicken and the simple method that I learned from Fergus Henderson's Nose to Tail, where the poultry is brought to a simmer with leeks and carrots and things then immediately taken off the heat, covered and left to cool completely. Result - deeply flavoured succulent flesh. Using this as a starting point meant that, though a pie would take two days to make, neither day would be particularly time consuming, and pie could be had mid week. Joy.

Though the market is not yet full of the bounties of spring - no mountains of courgettes or sweet fleshy tomatoes - there are fine leeks and carrots and celery and the first of the new potatoes, all of which promised a certain delicacy if added to my pie and a variety of fine flavours. It was possibly a little more work than I had at first anticipated, but served up, it has everything you could wish for on a chill spring night.

Chicken & Leek Pie

Day One
1 free range chicken cut into six, about 1.5kg in weight
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
2 leeks, chopped
1 onion, unpeeled and halved
1 whole head of garlic, cut through widthways
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
a bundle of thyme, parsley and rosemary
20 or so whole peppercorns
sea salt

Place the chicken and all the ingredients down to the sea salt in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. As soon as it boils cover it with a lid, take it off the heat and leave it to cool, which takes about 6 hours.

I then left the chicken in the broth in the fridge for the day before making

dinner next night.
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbspn olive oil
2tbspns plain flour
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
4 carrots, peeled and cut into rings
2 sticks celery, chopped – save the leaves to chop and add at the end
About 1 litre of chicken stock from the stock the chicken was poached in
30 leeks, washed and sliced
200g peas, frozen is fine
Meat from the poached chicken
Small bunch chopped parsley + chopped celery leaves
1kg new potatoes, thinly sliced, but don’t rinse
olive oil

Take the cold chicken from the stock, strip all the meat from the bones and put it to one side. Over a high heat, reduce the stock that the chicken was cooked in by about a quarter.

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions and garlic till translucent – about 10 minutes. Add the chopped carrots and celery and stir for a couple of minutes to coat in the oil.

Mix the flour, cayenne and salt together and stir into the cooked onion mixture over a low heat. Cook gently for five minutes or so till the flour has lost its rawness.

Add about two thirds of the hot stock and stir the veg through it. Simmer, stirring, until the stock is smooth and has thickened.

Add the leeks and peas. Cook till the stock comes back to a simmer. Add the reserved chicken and more stock till you have a good consistency for a pie filling. Check the seasoning and add more if needed.

Stir through the chopped parsley and celery leaves then turn off the heat.

Pour the chicken and vegetables into a pie dish,then top with overlapping slices of potato. Brush with olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes till the potatoes are a little crispy on top but soft underneath.

Let it sit for a few minutes then serve onto large plates, with some crusty bread perhaps to mop up the juices.
You could gussy it up with a little cream or white wine in the sauce or perhaps some asparagus when the price comes down a little, but just like this it is a fine pie.


Jo Jo said...

Hi Bron, thanks for visiting my blog. I am new to london, all the way from Downunder-Australia. I absolutely loved the Borough Market!The produce is fantastic.I am also mad on sticking with a budget, and add this stage, we are spending around 100 quid a week. You are porbably right about which shops to go to... I will have to suss the stalls a little bit more!

bron said...

Hey JoJo - welcome! London is great - I came over from Oz many years ago - and one of the best things is definitely eating from Borough. You'll have a good time sussing it out.