Festive leek, mushroom and chicken pie

Inexpert, but festive

Inexpert, but festive

It is freezing in Oxford at the moment. I mean literally freezing. The kind of cold where the frost on the trees doesn’t disappear all day long, and the world appears gilded. I love the change of seasons, and this our first proper wintry weather. But I already hate the cold!

So I decided to make pie. I always like to keep a block of puff pastry in the freezer for a rainy day – you never know when you might need a caramelized onion tart, or, like today, a pie. And yes, I use shop-bought puff, not my own. Maybe one day. Pie always warms me up on an icy day. I love the texture combination of flaky, buttery pastry on top, saucy, soggy pastry on the inside, and creamy, steamy filling below (ok, ok, I know there were TOO many adjectives in that sentence but I am unashamed).

This might seem like a totally run-of-the-mill recipe, but it’s one I’ve adapted so that the chicken is no longer the main event – here I used 2 diced chicken breasts to make six servings (dinners and next-day lunches for three hungry girls), whereas before I’d have thought that one chicken breast per serving was about right. Instead of all that meat, I used more mushrooms and leeks than I’d have used before – our wonderful Able and Cole veg box last week included lovely leeks and a lot of mushrooms, which worked perfectly. The result? Equally delicious, cheaper and probably much healthier pie. Well, apart from all that cream I guess…

Makes 6 servings

Takes 1hr 10 minutes

What you need

1 block of puff pastry (I used Jus-Roll)

2 chicken breasts, diced

3-4 medium leeks, washed and thinly sliced

1 x punnet mushrooms

200ml cream

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

2 tsp dried tarragon, or a couple of sprigs of fresh

300ml vegetable stock

1 beaten egg

Sophie adds a festive touch to the pie

Sophie adds a festive touch to the pie

How to make it

  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C (fan oven).
  2. Take a large frying pan with a heavy base, and heat a splash of oil over a medium heat. Add the leeks, and fry gently until falling apart and fragrant.
  3. Add the diced chicken, and stir until coloured all over. Then pour in half the stock, turn up the heat a little and bubble away until almost completely evaporated.
  4. Reduce the heat to low. Add the cream, mustard, tarragon and the rest of the stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the sauce is lovely and thick. Keep an eye on it though – you don’t want to let it boil, as this can curdle the cream.
  5. While the pie filling is simmering, roll out your pastry block on a lightly floured surface. You want it just slightly bigger than your pie dish. Place a sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray, transfer the pastry and chill for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Once the pie filling is ready – when the sauce is thick – check the seasoning and adjust. Then carefully pour the filling into your chosen pie dish. Lay the chilled pastry over the top, and trim off any excess pastry. If you’ve got lots left over, as we did, you can cut out some shapes for decorations. As you can see, we are far from expert at this! Use a pastry brush to brush a little of the beaten egg onto the pastry. This will give it a lovely finish.
  7. Bake your pie in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is puffed up, golden brown and flaky. Eat hot.