“Brrrr ….. We’re right into the thick of winter and it seems so much colder this year! So when I think of winter, one of the dishes that springs to mind is a good, wholesome pie. I am really fussy with my pies and homemade ones by far outweigh store-bought. It’s often a good way to use up leftovers or whatever you have in the fridge.
So, I had some beautiful large leeks, button mushrooms, potatoes and some fresh chicken thigh fillets that I had just bought. On the cheese front, I had picked up some Scarmoza from Paesanella in Marrickville (Sydney) a short while ago. If you haven’t tried this, you must. It’s lightly smoky and provides a wonderful stringy, stretchy texture when melted. Then, all you need is salt, pepper and some milk.
A good pie must have a good pastry. I’ve given you a recipe to make a rough puff pastry. To get the beautiful layers that a puff pastry must have, you MUST have patience with this – don’t rush it. Start early, so, by the time dinner comes, it’ll be nicely laminated and ready to puff! Then again, if you don’t have much time, grab a good quality store-bought puff pastry. I always have this stocked in my freezer.
Chicken, Mushroom & Leek Pie
500 g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed off excess fats, diced
2 cups diced leek (about 1 large leek)
4 cloves garlic, crushed, skin discarded, finely chopped
2 cups diced button mushroom
1 1/2 cups diced peeled potato (about 1 large potato), boiled till just tender
3/4 cup full cream milk
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons plain flour
20 g unsalted butter, small cubes
cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, gruyere…)
rough puff pastry
250 g plain flour
pinch of salt
250 g unsalted butter, cold, cubed
about 1/2 cup cold water
1 egg for eggwash
To make the rough puff, mix the flour and salt together and tip onto a clean cold surface along with the diced butter. Using two pastry cutters, chop the butter into the flour until it’s reasonably well mixed through. Don’t worry if there are some lumpy bits of butter. Drizzle over the cold water, and mix to form a dough. Avoid kneading this too much as we don’t want to blend the butter through the dough.
Now to laminate the pastry. Roll the dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface, then from the longest end, fold into thirds. Make a quarter turn and roll out again, repeating the above step two more times. Wrap with cling film and rest in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes. Repeat this process 5-6 times dusting lightly with flour in between.
To cook the filling, in a large saucepan over medium high heat, fry the leek and garlic in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil until slightly softened. Add the diced chicken and brown all over. Season with lots of cracked black pepper. Add the mushrooms and potato and toss to combine. Pour in the milk and water. Mix gently. Season with salt to taste. sprinkle over the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time and mix through. Add the butter and mix through.
Preheat your oven to 200C degrees.
Roll out your pastry to about 3mm thick.
Run some butter around the top of each ramekin. Fill each with enough filling to about a cm from the top. Sprinkle over your favourite cheese. I had Scarmoza, a smoked mozzarella in the fridge which works incredibly well. Using the right sized cookie cutter, cut out a disc of dough to cover each ramekin. Use a chopstick to poke a hole in the middle and brush lightly with egg wash.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the pastry has risen and is golden and crisp.
Note: Make sure all your ingredients are diced to a similar size, about 1 cm x 1cm.
Happy baking! ~ Audra”