EASY AS PIE: HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN POT PIE FROM LEFTOVER ROAST CHICKEN
Sunday roast dinner was a free-range chicken from Norfolk. Paid a king’s ransom for it, too. Chicken isn’t a cheap alternative to roast beef anymore. So when I roast a chicken for Sunday dinner, I am already thinking of ample leftovers to make proper meals a few days later. But what to do with the leftovers. Warming them up and pouring on reheated gravy is just too boring, and too same-same. And rather disgusting, too.
So I pulled out my new cookery book that I bought for a giggle and a cough at Costco. I’ve wanted this book for yonks but the price always put me off buying it. Well, Costco had it in mountain-loads for a price that I doubt covered the cost of printing. I bought it. “MasterChef’s Complete Cookery Course”. Clear instructions, lots of photos, an intriguing range of recipes and techniques from easy-peasy to pass-the-smelling-salts-I’m-going-to-faint. I can’t wait to try the falling-over-faint ones.
And there on page 98 was what I was looking for: Chicken and Parsley Pot Pie. The recipe wanted leftover chicken (tick), lots of fresh parsley (tick; I have mucho home-grown), chopped onion (tick), minced garlic (tick), leftover veg (tick: carrots), chopped celery (tick), a white sauce from whole milk (only skim milk in this house), and shortcrust pastry. I didn’t have the latter, so off I toddled in my little Smart car, bumping up and down on vicious speed bumps (I hate speed bumps with a passion since owning this car!), and bought some shortcrust pastry. And then I bumped up and down back home, counting the speed bumps. there are 12 speed humps between Tesco and my house. That’s insane.
Anyway … humps aside …
Then I chopped and minced and cubed and stirred and melted and whisked and folded it all together and poured it into a square casserole dish. And then on to the pastry. I took it out of the fridge 10-minutes before opening the package so it would warm up slightly, having been in the fridge for a few hours. Then a light dusting a flour on my work surface, and I spread the pastry out like a soft blanket and measured it. Goodness. Gracious. It was the exact size that I needed: 4cm (1-¼” inches) wider and longer than the actual dish’s dimensions. I took that as a sign that this was meant to succeed. Pastry and I have an unhappy history; it hates me. And I’m afraid of it.
I took a few scraps from the trimmings, and made pretty little leaves, four of them. Oh how I loved decorating the pie. Never thought that I had that ability in me. Old dog; new tricks; you betcha! Woof.
Then the egg-wash. Beat one egg very thoroughly, and lightly brushed the top surface of the pastry with the egg-wash. After that, it was popped into the fridge for at least 20-minutes, or until you’re ready to bake it. A few hours later, Peder was complaining that his tummy was running on empty, so I fired up the oven to 200C (conventional heat), and when it was completely preheated, I did the egg-wash thingy again … and then popped it into the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes until beautifully browned.
It was delicious, and cost next to nothing because it was all leftover from Sunday’s Roast. I think John and Greg from MasterChef would be impressed. Peder was! I will never be too shy to decorate a meat pie in the future, and I certainly won’t be afraid of using pastry!
I can’t include the entire recipe here because of copyright issues, and I do encourage anyone interested in challenging their cookery skills to buy the book. As a published writer, I encourage people to purchase books, no surprise there. For general guidance, here’s an ingredient list with a few pointers on method.
Beyond the ingredients list, I’d like to tell you what I learned from this recipe, and what in my opinion led to its success.
1. The pie filling was room temperature. Not steamy hot, which apparently can cause the pastry to go soggy underneath. And be sure that the dish is filled up!
2. Cut the pastry much larger than the pie dish so there’s room for it to shrink during baking.
3. Make BIG vent holes for the steam to escape during baking. BIG. Not danty little peek-a-boo holes.
4. Egg wash, then into the fridge for at least 30-minutes to rest, then egg wash again and into a hot oven immediately.
And finally, the last thing that I learned from the recipe was MasterChef thinks it’s okay to buy pastry from the supermarket. Just be sure that it’s good quality, made with real ingredients rather than cheap chemicals and additives.
Happy meat pie baking!