I don’t know why but around this time of year I always seem to make a pie, a moment James hungrily anticipates. I should do it more often really as shortcrust pastry is not as much effort to make as I always think it is in my head and it is such a good comfort food. My pies never taste the same as I always use leftover meat, gravy and vegetables from the roast dinner we have had the day before, a really yummy way to give them another lease of life. So here is a rough recipe but you can truly make it your own using your leftovers! This one was more of a chicken and leek pie with a white wine and thyme gravy. Also while we are on the subject of pie, one of the best I have ever eaten was at Altrincham Market by the Great North Pie Company – buttery mash, rich gravy, chunky meat filling and the shortest of shortcrust pastry, definitely worth having one if you ever come across them!
250g unsalted butter (cold)
400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 egg (for egg washing)
2 sticks of celery
Leftover whole roast chicken, shredded into sizeable chunks – we had about just over half left (We prepare a roast chicken by putting a lemon, halved, and a bunch of herbs – thyme, rosemary, bay or sage into the chicken’s cavity. Rub the skin all over with olive oil, salt and cracked black pepper. In an oven and hob proof roasting tray, sit the chicken on a trivet of 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 sticks of celery and a bulb of garlic – there is no need to peel the vegetables, just give them a wash and roughly chop them – this makes the base of your delicious gravy later. Baste the chicken half way through cooking and if the veg is looking dry, add a splash of water to stop them burning).
Leftover gravy – (To make gravy, once you have removed your roasted meat off the vegetable trivet, using a spoon, remove some of the hot fat from the tray that settles on the top. Put the tray on the hob over a high heat. Add in a about dessert spoonful of plain flour, stir it round and then mash up all the veg to a pulp using a potato masher. Then add in some wine and cook off before adding in your stock. Keep it over the heat and let it boil until it reaches your desired consistency, scraping the goodness from the bottom of the tray as you go. Sieve the gravy into a jug before use).
- To make the pastry, cube up the butter and put into a large bowl along with the flour and a pinch of salt. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles rough bread crumbs. Add just enough cold water so it comes together – don’t overwork it – then wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Prep all the veg for the filling, dice into fine pieces.
- Take your chilled pasty out of the fridge. Roll out two thirds of your pastry to a round, about 3mm thick, on a flour-dusted surface. Grease a 25cm pie tin with a removable base. Place your pastry base over the tin, easing it into the sides and leaving a generous overhang. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
- Cut out a round of greaseproof paper so it completely covers the base of your pastry. Place baking beans on top of this so it is well weighted down. Put your pie base into the oven and blind bake it for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place a large casserole pan on a a medium heat with a glug of oil. Add in your veg and saute until everything is cooked through and softened.
- Take out your blind baked pastry case from the oven. Remove the greaseproof paper and baking beans. Hopefully your pastry sides won’t have shrunk too much!
- Add the stripped chicken and gravy into the pan with your vegetables and cook through. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Take off the heat.
- Roll out your remaining pastry into a round to make the top of your pie.
- Pour the chicken and vegetable filing into your pie case.
- Egg wash the pastry rim.
- Place your pastry lid on top, pinching the sides together as you go. Trim away any excess and cut a cross in the centre. Egg wash all over the top of the pie.
- Bake at the bottom of your oven for 45-50 minutes until golden and cooked through.
- Serve with simple green vegetables.