Sunday, 31 January 2010

"Mmmmm, Pie!" An Ode to Weebl & Bob and a Very Fine Pie!

For many years, my username on some sites has been Kaveypie, rather than Kavey. That's all down to my having introduced the members of one particular website to the delights of Weebl & Bob, back when the cartoon had just a couple of episodes to it's name.

"Mmmmm, Pie!" became a common refrain and I became indelibly associated with it! Even today, some 7+ years later, I still find myself mimicking Weebl & Bob and singing out loud about loving donkey almost much as pie!

So, what a travesty then, that I'd never made pie myself!

I recently got my mitts on a book I've been eyeing up for quite a while: John Torode's Chicken and Other Birds and decided on the chicken, leek and mushroom pie as the first recipe to try from it.

We had many of the ingredients already to hand: In the freezer, leftover roast chicken, home-made stock and home-grown leeks (peeled, sliced and frozen raw). In the fridge, most of a pot of double cream (which I figured I could substitute for single).

Our amounts didn't match up to the recipe, and we realised only once we peered more closely at the contents of the defrosted box that the "leeks" were actually home-grown spring onions, which we went ahead and used, so I'm providing the original recipe ingredients first and then what we ended up using.

John Torode's Chicken, Leek & Mushroom Pie / Kavey's Chicken, Spring Onion & Mushroom Pie
100 grams butter* (I used 50 grams)
2 leeks cut into 1 cm pieces (I used a couple of spring onions, both green and white parts, cut quite small)
6 celery stalks, chopped (omitted)
50 grams plain flour plus extra for rolling pastry
250 ml chicken stock (I used 300 ml)
125 single cream (I used 100 ml double cream)
200 grams button mushrooms (I used 250 grams of slightly larger brown mushrooms)
750 grams roast chicken meat, without skin/ bone (I used 415 grams)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
375 grams ready-made puff pastry
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing (omitted)
salt and pepper

*The recipe ingredients specify 100 grams butter but the instructions only mention using 50 grams. For some reason, my brain noted the 50 grams reference and that's what I measured out and used. But it did feel too little to easily mix the flour into (I hadn't yet noticed the discrepancy between instructions and ingredients), so I would recommend using the full 100 grams in the ingredients where the instructions refer to 50 grams.

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add spring onions (leeks and celery) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add 50 grams flour and mix to a paste.
  • Stir in the stock and the cream.
  • The instructions suggest bringing to the boil and then reducing the heat to simmer for 15 minutes, but once I'd brought it nearly to the boil and reduced heat for just a few minutes, it was already a really thick consistency. I tasted to ensure the flour taste had cooked out and decided it didn't need another 12 minutes cooking.

  • Remove from the heat and stir in the chicken, mushrooms and parsley. Season to taste.

  • Heat the oven to 220°C.
  • Take a suitable pie dish (recipe suggest 1.2 litre) and roll out the pastry to 5mm depth and 5 cm larger than the pie dish. Place the pie dish upside down onto the pastry and cut around it leaving a 3 cm border.
  • Use remaining pastry cut into 2 cm strips and fit the strip around the top edge of the pie dish, using water to help it stick, if needed. (I found the instructions for this a little confusing with no pictures to illustrate what was required; luckily Pete was able to decipher them!)

  • Transfer the pie filling into the dish, piling it more deeply in the centre than around the edges.

  • Set the pastry lid on top, using water to help it stick, if required. (Our ready-made pastry was quite sticky so we didn't need any water).
  • Use a fork to press the edges down onto the existing pastry strip and seal the pie.

  • I added extra pastry to spell the word PIE. The recipe suggests marking decorative patterns of leaving plain as desired.

  • Cut a small vent in the pie lid, at the centre.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, reduce heat to 200°C and bake for another 15 minutes until the pastry is crusty and golden.
  • If the pastry browns too quickly, cover it with a sheet of damp baking parchment.
  • Serve hot straight from the dish.

I was soooooo pleased with this pie! We really enjoyed it, especially given how often we have leftover roast chicken meat and home-made stock to use not to mention leeks grown in our back garden! The spring onion substitute worked fine, though the flavour was a touch stronger than I think leek would have been, so would use leeks next time. And I loved the brown mushrooms, but might cut them in half next time, as they were a touch large, though perfectly cooked and very tasty!

Oh and, as we didn't want to waste the strip of puff pastry leftover from the pie lid, we grated some Comté and made a cheese straw. As it took only a few minutes to cook, we shared it as a little canapé before the pie!

And what do I think of the book? It's a book I've really enjoyed reading - I like Torode's
very personal and personable writing style. Many of the recipes look delicious! But I found myself bookmarking less of them into my mental queue of things to make than I usually do when I get my hands on a new cookery book - I never cook half of them but I love the idea of doing so! There are also a couple that don't seem to fit the rest - the idea of using leftover roast chicken in a simple sandwich is probably one anyone who'd contemplate the rest of the recipes has probably worked out already! But the book has given me some ideas, and been an enjoyable read.

Thanks to Quadrille for the review copy.

John Torode's Chicken and Other Birds is published by Quadrille and currently available from Amazon for just £9.69 instead of the RRP of £20.00.


James Brewer said...

That Pie looks immense! Any type of Chicken Pie is pure comfort food.

Lizzie said...

I'm glad my labelling of pies with a pastry PIE on top has caught on!

That is one daddy of a pie.

Kristen In London said...

I can't wait to see John Torode's book, but I'm awfully glad to have your commentary! Leeks and spring onions? Hmmm! Sounds like comfort food in any case, thanks for the heads-up.

Kavey said...

Lizzie, so sorry not to have linked to your original PIE pie! I clean forgot where that came from! My bad!

Rita said...

just reading through your posts again...
chicken pie is one of my favorite but I never use leeks, just the chicken and mushroom, so this really sounds interesting..