Does this sound just a tad odd to you? It did to me too when I first purchased it from one of my favourite pie makers, but it works like a dream [if you dream of succulent savoury pies that is – and who doesn’t?]. So I’ve pinched the idea from them but in the absence of a detailed recipe on the label have had to construct my own. The original was a full short-crust pie affair but I bought a packet of ready-made puff and lazily draped it over the top. I make no apologies, that’s my kind of pie. And this is one of those great ways to use up your leftover roast chicken, in fact it’s a good excuse to cook more than you need in the first place!
For two or three – depending on how hungry you are:
- ½ a small leftover roast chicken [my original bird weighed around 1.4kg], meat roughly chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 140g Brie de Meaux
- 1 dessert spoon plain flour
- 170g standard closed cup mushrooms, cut into 1/2 cm dice
- 350ml chicken stock made from the carcass of the bird – see separate post
- 4 tblsp double cream
- 1 good glug of pale sherry, white wine or vermouth [this may depend on what went with on with the stock (see above) but feel free to go where your heart takes you], plus a good glass of wine for the chef
- A small sprig of thyme
- 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted
- 1 egg
Sauté the onion in a little olive oil until softening nicely. Add the garlic, mushrooms and thyme, and cook for a few minutes more. You can pick the leaves from the thyme if you have time [do you see what I did there?], or you can tie it with string, bruise the bunch between your palms and toss it in the pot for later retrieval, which is easier. Add the flour and stir for a few minutes more without allowing it to catch. Now’s the time to add the sherry / wine / vermouth and, after a brief bubble and stir, the stock. Return to a simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, and allow to thicken slightly before introducing the chopped chicken to warm through thoroughly, and then the cream. You may find that the large surface area of the multitudinous chicken pieces causes the sauce to become thicker than you’d thought – if so just add a little more stock but remember that you will want the base to have some body, so don’t overdo it. Having removed the thyme bouquet [if using] tip all the rest into a suitably sized pie dish, and as it cools slice your Brie into chunky slivers and distribute them evenly, tucking them into your saucy base. Now is the time to take your chef’s glass of wine and relax somewhere for 10 minutes whilst your pie filling does the same – you’ve been working hard, you deserve it…
Back in the kitchen? Top your pie dish with the pastry and use any trimmings to make leaves [classically], diamonds [very 70’s revival], hearts [if, and only if, you’re about to propose] or whatever shapes your imagination suggests, place these on top, and brush with the beaten egg. There may be some slight spillage around the edges so sit the pie dish on a tray and place into the middle of a preheated 220˚C oven for 25 minutes. Please resist the temptation to peek for at least the first 20 minutes, which will be more difficult than it sounds, but a puff pastry can easily sulk if it isn’t given enough privacy in the early stages of its development.
I first served this with cauliflower cheese [another leftover from the day before] which turned out to be a mistake – too rich and too many competing flavours. I would recommend some simply mashed potatoes [butter, milk, a pinch of nutmeg] and some peas or other greens. The pie should have the space to sing with just a competent supporting cast who don’t attempt to grab the limelight.