Saturday, 10 September 2011

'I love my chicken pie'.....Crow Black Chicken sung by Ry Cooder...

We often listen to Mike's old music in the menage and enjoy whiling away the evening with his 'crooners' entertaining us....Crow Black Chicken is a favourite...

Schools back so the steady stream of kids through our doors and onto our dinner table ceases and we are left with a pile of forgotten socks, pajamas and plastic toys and fond memories of the summer children's meals that we have prepared in abundance over the last few months....

Simple healthy fare to keep the energy levels high after a day of snacking on bread and various in the back seat of the car...carrot sticks, cucumber slices, strawberries, broccoli and cubed potatoes accompanied by the household classic Chicken Pie....

This pie has it origins in the kitchen of a Champagne making English friend who used to make it in a deep casserole dish with the pastry laid over the top as a blanket to hide the goodies beneath. My children have always loved it and we have adapted this original recipe to make a more Kiwi style pie...

I sometimes make small individual pies but mostly one large pie as one piece is invariably not enough.
Given that the children I am feeding come from all over the world and can be anything from 1 to 15 years old I remain amazed that I have had very few out and out rejections. Mostly the pie is greeted with a slight apprehension but once tasted the strike rate of a clean plate is about 98%! Mum's and Dad's alike line up for the odd mouthful and comments about 'the best Chicken Pie I have ever had' are often bantered about the table...the recipe requests follow....

The only complicated thing about this pie is the pastry...that is finding good enough shop brought flaky pastry. The same friend who introduced my children to her chicken pie also give me the best piece of advice when I first moved to France..."never make your own pastry in France...the shop brought ready rolled pastry is so good that there is absolutely no need". And as pastry hates a hot kitchen I feel more than justified in doing exactly that....and the other thing is that I do tend to make it up as I go along so quantities are not accurate but any reasonable cook can adapt to suit...


a small onion chopped finely
3 large chicken breasts cut into cubes
creme fraiche or double cream
potatoes and carrots cubed and cooked till tender with a few peas or small broccoli flowers.
approx 1 cup of chicken stock...preferably homemade but reconstituted cubes are fine...use less salt.
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 deg Celsius

1. Fry the onions in a deep sided frying pan and add chicken pieces cooking till white but not brown.
2. Boil potatoes and carrots in boiling water in a separate pot.
3. Put 2 or 3 heaped tablespoons of creme fraiche or 1/2 a cup of cream into the pan with the chicken and onions and stir to combine.
4. Add a couple of scoops of chicken stock to create a nice thin sauce when mixed with the cream.
5.  Add peas and broccoli to the potatoes and cook for 5 mins.
6. Leave the chicken mix to boil gently while the vegetables cook adding more stock or water to keep the consistency of the sauce runny. Season to taste.
7. Drain the vegetables reserving some of the vegetable water to add to the chicken to thin the sauce if needed. A runnier sauce will thicken once cooked in the pastry...should be the consistency of pre-whipped double cream. Set aside to cool.
8. Line a large flan or pie dish with baking paper then ready rolled pastry and cut into a circle to fit.
9. Fill pie dish with chicken mixture.
10. Using a second pastry sheet cut to fit the top of the pie being generous on the edges and pinching it together to seal the creamy chicken mix inside. Decorate with any small pieces of pastry if you fancy.
11. Brush the pie with milk and cook in preheated oven for 20 mins...check then for a further 5 mins if need be.
12. Serve generous slices to hungry children and watch it disappear...great next day reheated too...

pics to follow...

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