Sometimes I run out of things to do with mushrooms. I always put plenty in my Bolognaise sauce and this reminded me that they are a delicious way of bulking out a meat dish. And as I stared into the fridge at the hoard of mushrooms and leeks, a delicious Chicken Pie, sprang to mind and then there was no stopping me. What is great about this recipe, is that it uses the whole chicken, which is so much more economical than buying separate pieces and that you make your own stock. It is a little more time consuming, but really worth the extra effort. You can make up for lost time with readymade and even ready rolled puff pastry. Everyone who knows me, knows I am a great fan of this super time saving product. This comes from a girl who used to make her own! It is a bit hit and miss and as you can see from the photos, mine didn’t rise particularly brilliantly. As always I was trying to do too many things at once and did not give it my full attention, but it still tasted great. Make sure the oven is really hot to get the puff to rise. You can always turn it down afterwards.
I served up my pie with some of the longest French beans I have ever seen. When they turned up in my box I have to admit I thought they were going to be really stringy and tough. But they were surprising tender and along with the pie, the kids love them.
Chicken, Leek and Bacon Pie
1 free-range organic chicken
2 sticks celery
handful thyme, some for the stock and some finely chopped for the
200g smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
400g mushrooms, sliced
50g plain flour
500g ready rolled fresh all butter puff pastry, or frozen & defrosted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Take the chicken and bend back it’s legs so that they are underneath the breast. Put into a large saucepan, big enough to comfortably hold the chicken. Fill with water up to nearly the top of the chicken. (The idea is that the legs, which take longer to cook are submerged in water and the breast stays above so that it is just steamed and remains moist.) Add the leek tops, the roughly chopped celery and carrot and the thyme. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and cover the pan. Allow to gently simmer for 45 minutes. Meanwhile shred and wash the remaining leek. Heat another large saucepan and add the bacon and the butter. Cook until crisp. Add the leeks and sweat. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (If you have a lid, cover the pan to begin with. The steam helps the initial sweating process and the salt also helps to add moisture drawn out from the leeks.) Cook until just beginning to caramelise. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they are completely cooked down and no liquid remains. Add the chopped thyme and the flour into the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 min. Remove from the heat when ready.
Meanwhile, when your chicken is cooked, remove it from the stock to cool. The stock can carry on reducing. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, take the flakes of meat off the bone. Make sure you only keep nice chicken meat. (If it is for the kids, be particularly vigilant.) Keep to one side. The bones can go back into the reducing stock but discard the skin. Take 500mls of your stock, pass it through a sieve and add it to your leek and mushroom mixture. Gradually stir in the stock and bring to the boil, stirring until thickened. Add the chicken back into the mixture and tip into a large pie or baking dish (approx 20 x 30cm) and leave to cool.
Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Top with the sheet of pastry. Try and tuck it all in so that is cooks evenly (not like I did) and brush with egg. Pick a few times with a fork and then bake for 30 mins or until the pastry is risen and dark golden brown.