Saturday 1 February 2014

Have your pie and eat it

One of the things I have never attempted to make is pastry. It's always scared me a little as it takes quite a while and it can go so wrong. It's quite unlike me really as normally I am happy to step out of my comfort zone and try something new even if it doesn't quite work out the way I planned. After all, if at first you don't succeed....but for some reason making pastry is one if the paths I have never ventured down. I've always known that ready made pastry is available but it felt like too much of a cheat so I stayed clear. Until I watched Lorraine Pascal. She said that one of the things she rarely makes is pastry as the shop bought versions are so good. Hey, if she can do it so can I! So I bought some Jus Rol puff pastry. Not only can you buy pre-prepared pastry but you can also get it ready rolled. Now that's a shortcut I was ready to try!

Pastry ready and waiting I had one more problem to tackle. And this one was more tricky. N doesn't really like pies! However on further questioning I discovered he isn't strictly anti-pie but rather he has an issue with ready made and restaurant pies as he finds they have the wrong pastry to filling ratio. Most of these pies have a full pastry case making the overall effect very stodgy. Luckily I had some individual pie cases lurking at the back of my cupboard which I was just waiting for the opportunity to use. Using individual pie dishes meant I could just make a lid out of pastry. The end result were a couple of elegant chicken, leek and mushroom pies. To get a neat result I cut round one of the pie dishes before I had filled it and to go that step extra I used a cookie cutter to cut a star out of the excess pastry. They really were comfort food at its best. 

Individual chicken, leek and mushroom pies
(Serves 2 | total prep and hob cooking time 40 mins + 30 mins in the oven)

- 1 sheet Jus Rol ready rolled puff pastry
- milk to brush pastry
- olive oil
- 1 small onion - diced
- 3 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
- 1 chicken breast fillet - cut into small pieces
- 1 leek - trimmed and sliced
- 5-6 mushrooms - sliced
- approx 300ml chicken stock
- herbs such as thyme, tarragon and parsley
- level tablespoon of cornflour
- black pepper

- preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan
- cut round the top of the pie dishes to make 2 lids. Use a cookie cutter to cut a optional shape out of any excess pastry. Keep these aside
- heat some olive oil in a saucepan
- fry the chicken for approx 10 mins until it looks opaque. Don't worry if it is not completely cooked as it will cook more later. Remove from the pan and set aside
- add some more oil and soften the onions. Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes
- add the leek and mushroom, stir well and cook on a low heat for a few minutes
- return the chicken to the pan and add the herbs. Stir well
- add the stock, cornflour and black pepper
- cook together on a low-med heat for approx 10 mins until the sauce has thickened up. If it is too runny increase the heat until some liquid evaporates. If it is too thick add a little boiling water and stir well
- allow to cool slightly and transfer into individual pie dishes leaving a few millimetres of room at the top of the dish
- brush the edge of the dish with some milk and place the pastry lid on top. Pinch the edges so it sticks to the dish and produces a nice fluting
- brush the centre of the pastry lid with a little more milk and place the pastry shape on top
- pierce a hole in the centre if the pastry lid with a knife or a fork
- brush the top of the pastry with more milk
- place in the oven for 30 mins until the pastry is golden brown

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