Pies in Winter, oh yes please. We have been struck with a very surprising Wintry cold snap here in North Queensland. Which means, it's perfect weather for making and eating pies, and lots of them. I made this pie in Cairns, before the cold snap really set in even though it was cool, but now that we are all rugged up, I want to make it and eat it again and again. It is a really delicious and healthy chicken and vegetable pie, and the left overs taste even better. When I saw this recipe on Lorraine@Not Quite Nigella's instagram feed it was a cold wet day, and I just knew I had to make it. A Chicken pie makes a nice change to the iconic Meat Pie with Mushy Peas and Worcestershire sauce or Tomato sauce which is a Queensland tradition, and during this cold snap I assure you that a lot of those are being consumed by hungry workers for lunches and dinners. There are still a few Pie Carts to be found waiting for hungry customers on the suburban roadsides in Mackay, and at some workplaces, and for some strange reason a Meat pie bought from one of those Pie Carts has always tasted better than from the shop.
Temperatures plummeted down to 7 degrees, even in Cairns when it was raining. We arrived home yesterday, after driving halfway in the rain to Home Hill, a sleepy little sugar cane town just over halfway to Mackay and it was freezing there. The motel room was very cold, the reverse cycle air-conditioning wasn't working, so we were in bed very early. Thankfully though we were able to Chromecast to Netflix on their TV, and the motel owners were serving delicious hot pizza to our room. That was after a long phone call to France to wish our much loved 6 year old Grandson, Hugo, happy birthday and watch him very excitedly open our presents to him. So special, and thank goodness for technology.
Thankfully the sun was shining yesterday for the rest of the trip home, even though it was still down to 6 degrees when we left in the morning. Our maximum at midday today is 21 degrees, which for me is perfect Winter weather, with the sun shining. Thanks so much Lorraine Elliott for this recipe, I've changed it slightly, but it is a cinch to make even though it takes a little time and can't be rushed, and it is now firmly embedded in my repertoire of favourite meals. I would love it if you could make this pie, and let me know of any variations you make and what you think of it.
Feeds 4 people
1 cup/150 g / 5 oz diced carrots
2 cups /300g / 10 oz diced zucchini
4 tablespoons / 80 ml / 3 fl. ozs. vegetable oil
1 leek, white part finely diced
50 g /1.7 ozs butter
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
2 teaspoons / 4g / curry powder
500 g /1.11 lbs. chicken meat, thighs, tenderloins, breasts cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup/250 ml milk (full cream)
1 cup / 150 g frozen peas
1 cup / 175 g / 6 ozs drained tinned corn or frozen corn
1/2 cup / 50 g grated parmesan cheese
2 sprigs parsley, leaves only, chopped
Salt and pepper for seasoning
1 sheet / 180 g / 6 ozs butter puff pastry
2 tablespoons egg wash ( 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water)
(I generally prepare the filling the day before I plan to bake it, so that it is cold before adding the pastry, and it all saves time on the day of serving. However if the filling is made in the morning and kept in the refrigerator all day, it should be cold by the late afternoon when you want to bake the pie.)
Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C/350 deg. F prepare your baking tray for roasting the carrots and zucchinis. Line the tray with baking paper.
Tip the carrots and zucchinis onto the lined baking tray. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, and bake for 25 minutes.
While the carrots and zucchinis are baking, start cooking the rest of the ingredients.
Saute the leeks in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan, and until they are soft and golden.
Add the garlic, throw in about a quarter of the butter, until the butter softens and melts, add the curry powder and fry until fragrant, and then add the chicken.
Continue until chicken is cooked but not browned.
Now it's time to make the white sauce, but in the same pan. Move the chicken to one half of the pan, then on a low heat add the rest of the butter, wait for it to melt, then add the flour to make a roux.
Give it a stir, and add the milk and stir until it becomes thick and creamy. You are aiming for a creamy white sauce.
Add the peas and corn, the chopped parsley, and the cheese.
Then add the cooked carrot and zucchini, give it a light stir, season to your taste, and allow this to all cool completely.
Your delicious chicken pie filling is complete.
Because the filling needs to be cold before adding the pastry to the top, the simplest idea is to add the chicken mixture to the baking dish, cover it and keep it in the refrigerator for the next day, when you are ready to put the pastry on top.
Prepare a sheet of puff pastry to fit the top of your baking dish.
Brush the surface of the pastry with egg wash, cut a small hole in the top, to allow the steam to escape, decorate with small pieces of pastry cut into shapes if you wish, and then place the dish back in the frig until the oven heats up to 220C/440F. The uncooked pie needs to remain cold until it is placed in the oven, to ensure the pastry will rise beautifully.
Bake the pie for 20-25 minutes or until golden.