Friday 25 November 2011

More Slow-cooking

Still spending quite a lot of time hanging out with Russel.  We have had some great times and some, not quite so good.  I tried slow-cooking a whole chicken, for example, which was a bit of a disaster.  The legs where good but the breast was horribly dry.  I am still convinced that the best way to cook a whole chicken is to put it in as hot an oven for as little time as possible.  But slow-cooked chicken legs is something else.  Cheaper and tastier than breast, I really had forgotten how good they are.  First up I made a really delicious Chicken, Chorizo and Chickpea Stew.  Next I tried a Chicken, Leek and Bacon Pie filling.  The beauty of the pie mix is you can make up loads and then freeze them.  I have to admit, I haven't bothered making my own puff pastry in years, especially now that you can buy such good ones.  But beware.  Look out for "All Butter Puff". Check the ingredients and if it lists anything other than flour, butter, water, lemon juice and salt then don't buy it.  Jus Rol, for example, ingredients' list as; Flour, Vegetable Oil, Mono and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids.  Yum!  I rest my case.  When you find a good make, stock up and keep it in the freezer.  

I also have to admit that I had actually never made a pie with a base before.  I was always too worried it would have a soggy bottom and I always lost nerve at the last moment and just played it safe with a fool-proof crispy top.  But this time, I finally went for it and it worked perfectly.  It is so exciting when you finally address a fear and conquer it.  A few tips.  A metal pie dish works best as it heats up and quickly distributes the heat for an even crispy bottom.  You can buy them super cheap online from makes such as Falcon Enamelware. No need to buy a whole set, just buy one the right size for your family and then buy it from Amazon.

Second tip, remember to pre-heat your oven and start your pie on the bottom. Finally, make sure that your mixture is not too wet.  If it seems too liquid then take the time to reduce it first, even adding more flour if necessary.  You can do this buy making up a little Roux (cooked butter and flour) and adding the liquid.  Make sure you cook out the flour.  The pie gravy should be creamy and you will have the best pie ever.

Chicken, Bacon, Mushroom and Leek Pie

There is no need to add stock to this recipe.  The juices from the chicken as it steams create enough liquid and mix with the cream, milk and flour to create a delicious sauce.  If you do not have a slow-cooker, cook very slowly on the stove top for 2 hours and add a little chicken stock to prevent from catching.

8 chicken thighs, free-range or organic if possible, skinless and boneless 
2tbsp olive oil  
200g smoked bacon, cut into lardons 
2 leeks, sliced and washed
200g mushrooms, sliced 
Small bunch of thyme, tied up 
3tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting 
100mls milk
100mls double cream
1 egg, whisked with a fork
500g good quality puff pastry 

Heat the oil in a medium-large saucepan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add to the pan and cook for 5-8 minutes until golden. Remove from the pan and keep to one side. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until it is lightly golden and crisp.  Add the mushrooms and cook with the bacon for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes more.  Sprinkle with the flour, stir well and cook a few minutes more and add the milk and cream. Bring to a simmer.  Poor into the slow-cooker with the chopped leeks and the thyme.  Set the cooker to low for eight hours or high for six hours.

The chicken should be completely flaky and the sauce should be creamy and fairly thick.  If it is too liquid, it needs to be poured off and reduced.  (See above.) Roll out the pasty to the thickness of a pound coin.  Line the pie dish and press down round the edge with a folk.  Brush the edge with egg wash.  Fill with the chicken mix and top the pie with pastry.  Press down once again round the edge with a folk.  Egg wash the whole top of the pie. Pierce a hole or two in the top to allow any steam to escape while cooking. (If you are making pies to freeze then put them straight in the freezer and follow baking instructions for frozen pies.) Place in the very bottom of a hot pre-heated oven at 190ºC for half an hour and them move up to a higher rack at 170ºC until the pastry is puffed up and nicely golden.

If baking a frozen pie  start it at 220°C for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 205°C and bake it for 25 to 45 minutes, longer than you would if it were not frozen, depending on how big the pie is.


  1. That does look delicious - and great tips about the filling. It's unseasonably chilly here too, but I think it's pie weather whatever the temperature!

  2. delicious looking pie! Just want to pick it right off the computer screen and eat it!


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