Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Chicken Pot Pies

Transforming any casserole (or even combination of leftovers) into pot pies is a great way to ‘dress it up’ and make them seem far more impressive for very little extra work! Here I’ve used a quick and easy chicken mixture, but you could use almost any favourite casserole for the filling.

To make life your life really easy, it’s worth keeping a package or pre-rolled flaky pastry sheets on hand in the freezer – they can be whipped out and used like this at very short notice. It is however difficult to give an exact quantity required. This depends on the shape and size of the containers you use and how many ‘lids’ you can get from one pastry sheet. (This recipe makes enough filling for four 350ml bowls which are about 11cm across.)

For 4 servings: 
2 Tbsp olive or canola oil
2 medium (350g trimmed total) leeks, sliced
2–3 cloves garlic, crushed, peeled and chopped

250–300g button mushrooms, halved or quartered

400g boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cubed

1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup cream

1/2 - 1 tsp salt

black pepper to taste

2–4 sheets pre-rolled flaky pastry, thawed

1 egg plus 1 Tbsp water, lightly beaten

Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are soft (about 5 minutes). Stir in the mushrooms and continue to cook until theses have just softened, then add the chicken and stir-fry until the chicken has lost its pink colour.

Add the thyme, wine and cream and simmer for 10–12 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Place the pastry sheets on a dry lightly floured bench and cut four rounds, slightly larger (about 1cm) than the tops of your selected bowls/ramekins. Cut the trimmings into strips about 1.5cm wide.

Divide the filling between the four containers, filling each to about 1cm below the rim. Brush the rims lightly with water, then make a ring of the pastry strips around the top of each dish, pressing them down gently. Lightly brush the pastry-covered rims with water then top with the pasty rounds to make a lid. Gently press the around the edges, fluting them and decorating the tops with pastry trimmings if desired.

Using the point of a sharp knife, carefully poke a vent in the centre of each pie, then brush the tops lightly with the beaten egg mixture. Place pies in the oven and bake at 200˚C for 15–20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Serve alone or accompany with a salad or lightly cooked vegetables and a slice or two of French bread

Note: The filling mixture can be prepared in advance.

Photography: Lindsay Keats

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