Chicken and Leek pie with Braised Lettuce and Five-Spice Roast Carrots.

The days are short and the weathers cold. Thats pie weather for me. This originally was a chicken and mushroom pie, but due to my sisters aversion to ‘shrooms, we had to change the recipe for her. The original recipe for the pie and lettuce are from Jamie’s 30 minute meals, so its quick and delicious. I do feel it is important however, to make the chicken and leek filling ahead of time. Jamie would have you bang puff pastry straight on top of hot pie mix, which would make the pastry soggy before its even had a chance to get golden and crisp. So I make the filling a few hours ahead of time so that it can cool down. Even if you can just give it half an hour that will make your pie better. For this dish you’ll need an oven-proof baking dish.
Its not strictly seasonal I know, what with leeks, lettuce and peas being spring vegetables. Leeks are one of the first vegetables to push up through the thawing winter soil.
So this recipe sort of goes against everything I believe in, but its also just bloody delicious, so my heart says no but my stomach says yes. Bit like every time I have a MacDonalds. Oh the shame.

To feed 4 you’ll need:
The Pie
4 chicken breasts, cut into 1cm strips
4 leeks, sliced
1 bunch of spring onions, finely sliced (Set aside 3 for the braised lettuce)
1 tbsp Oil
20g Unsalted Butter
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp English mustard
1 tbsp creme fraiche
300ml chicken stock
a few prigs of thyme
1/2 a nutmeg
250g puff pastry
1 egg

Braised Lettuce
20g Unsalted Butter
1 tbsp Oil
1 heaped tsp plain flour
2 little gem lettuce, shredded
400g frozen peas
3 spring onions, finely sliced
200ml Chicken Stock
juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon

Carrots
500g Chantenay Carrots
1 tbsp Chinese Five Spice
1 tbsp Runny Honey

Start of by frying your portioned and seasoned chicken pieces in olive oil over a medium-high heat in a casserole dish or large saucepan. You want to get a little bit of colour on these, as this is going to add depth of flavour to your sauce. Once your chicken is nice and browned, remove it to a plate using a slotted spoon.
Now add the butter and get it foaming. Add your sliced spring onions and leeks and a pinch of salt and leave to sweat for 5 minutes.
Now add the flour and stir well before adding the mustard, creme fraiche, chicken stock and chicken back to the pan, along with its resting juices from the plate. Thats all good flavour. Finely grate in the nutmeg and also add a few sprigs of thyme. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes.
Season.
At this point you need to get the seasoning and consistency of your pie filling right, as once the pastry goes on, its final! If you like a bit more sauce, thin it out a little bit, and make sure the seasoning is on point.
Put to one side and leave to cool.

Chicken and Leek filling

Once your pie filling is cool (or you’re so hungry you cant wait any longer) take your pastry out of the fridge and onto a lightly floured surface and turn your oven to 220ºC.
You’ll either need to roll out your pastry until its 3-5mm thick or simply unroll the pre-rolled sheet. Cut to a similar size of your baking dish, and score lightly with the back of your knife. Dont use the blade as you’re likely to cut all the way through. I like to make a nice diamond pattern.
Put onto your pie filling, I like to tuck the pastry down the sides of my pie mix, as opposed to having a tight, flat lid. Make a small inch sized cut in the top of your pie so that steam can escape. Glaze with a little beaten egg and place in the fridge for 10 minutes to ensure your pastry is cold when going into the oven, which will ensure the best rise, colour and texture.

Now place your carrots in a bowl and season liberally with salt and pepper, a drizzle of oil and the Chinese five spice. Toss and coat well, and place in a roasting tray and bang it in the oven. They’ll take about 30 mins, and 2 mins before taking them out, drizzle with the honey and give them a few extra minutes before serving them up.

Now whack your pie in the oven, it’ll need around 15-20 minutes to get a lovely golden and crispy top. It may need turning half way through cooking to ensure that it has an even colour.

Now get cracking with your lettuce! Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan over a medium heat before adding your finely sliced spring onions and a pinch of salt. Sweat for 2-3 minutes before tossing in the flour. Stir really well. Add your shredded lettuce, frozen peas and stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Just before serving season with lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Done!

I like to get everything on the table and let everyone dig in. Make sure everyone gets an equal sized piece of pastry though, as in my house that’ll cause a fight! Enjoy.

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