Comfort food in June?

Not that I want to turn into a moaning Michael, but come on, I mean where are the summers of our childhood?  Those sticky hot, blue sky days, that smelt of cut grass and sun cream?  So of late the inclement weather has most definitely not been encouraging me to enjoy light summery fresh salads, but in the last few days I have sought solace in something comforting – a rich bubbling, savoury chicken stew, tucked up underneath a soft pastry duvet served with some mash and greens.  Chicken pie is one of the all time greats if you need a comfort food fix to pick you up, out of the doldrums.

I normally make a chicken pie using a whole free range chicken which I poach, then pick off all the meat, but being that it was a weekday and I didn’t have the luxury of time on my side I turned to Mr Oliver’s 30 minute meals book and decided to try out his chicken pie recipe.  This is probably one of Jamie’s best books as he gives complete meals with a main, side salad, drink and dessert, but he really should have a disclaimer note in the small print that says ‘meals under 30 minutes only if you are a world famous TV chef, for everyone else, 30 mins +.’  I didn’t time myself but it was at least 45 minutes and I didn’t even make the dessert.  Still though, quick enough for a chicken pie dinner.

The revelation for me in this recipe was the side of peas, which are cooked with lettuce and mint.  I’ve never cooked lettuce before, but I’m now a convert, cooking the lettuce seems to bring out the sweet subtle flavour of the delicate leaves that you don’t appreciate when you eat them in a salad.  Gem lettuce is really good for cooking as the leaves are sturdier than other softer lettuce, so it means they don’t wilt away to nothing when you show them a bit of heat.  The sweetness of the lettuce is brought out even more when you accompany it with sweet fresh frozen peas.  If you ever thought peas were boring then try this out, these peas would also be really good with game or lamb.

Chicken pie with mashed sweet potato and awesome peas – food for the soul!

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the chicken pie

650g of chicken thigh fillets, diced

Olive oil

knob of butter

a bunch of spring onions, chopped finely

1 leek, chopped finely

150g chestnut mushrooms, chopped into quarters

1tsp plain flour

2tsp English mustard

1tbsp creme fraiche

300ml of chicken stock, I use a stock cube for handiness

a few sprigs of thyme

a few gratings of nutmeg

salt and pepper

1 sheet of pre-rolled puff pastry

1 egg

Mash

500g sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

knob of butter

salt and pepper

Peas

2 gem lettuces, sliced

knob of butter

1tbsp plain flour

300ml of chicken stock, I used a vegetable stock cube

a few sprigs of fresh mint

480g of frozen peas

1/2 a lemon

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and in a wide pan pour some olive oil and a knob of butter.  Add the chicken pieces and fry gently for about three minutes.  Then add the sliced spring onions, leek and mushrooms.  Fry for a minute then add the flour and stir.  Once the flour has disappeared, add the mustard, creme fraiche and the chicken stock and stir all the ingredients together.  Add the fresh thyme, a few gratings of nutmeg, season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer.

Cook the diced sweet potato in boiling water for about 10 minutes, until tender.  Drain, add a knob of butter and use a potato masher to crush the sweet potato into a chunky mash.  Season with salt and pepper, cover and keep warm, ready to serve.

Dust your worktop with some flour and roll out the puff pastry.  Pour the chicken pie filling into a deep oven proof dish and cover with the sheet of puff pastry.  Tuck in the edges of the pastry and then brush over a beaten egg to give the pastry a golden brown shine when it is in the oven.  Get the pie into the hot oven and cook for about 20 minutes, until the pastry has risen and is golden.

While the pie is cooking in the oven, get your peas on.  In a large wide pan add a knob of butter and a tablespoon of flour to the pan, then pour in your 300ml of stock, tear in the mint leaves and use a whisk to give a smooth sauce.  Then add the peas and sliced lettuce.  Squeeze in the juice from half a lemon, season with salt and pepper, give the pan a stir and cover to simmer very gently for a few minutes.

Serve up a wedge of pie with some mashed sweet potato and minty peas with lettuce.

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About The Pickled Quince

I'm a Belfast native, living in Dublin who is passionate about good food, wine and beer, and all the excellent produce that Ireland has to offer. View all posts by The Pickled Quince

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