I know at some point, quite a while ago I posted about Chicken and Leek Risotto. This is a variation on that recipe, and is one of my families favourites. Its good, wholesome, hearty food – just the thing for cold winter nights or as a treat for visitors. Over the years, I’ve done many experimentations with this basic recipe; sweet potato, chicken and leek or leek, celery and potato for a vegetarian option (see notes at the bottom).
The recipe is quite flexible, so enjoy experimenting. I will, however, give you one solid word of advice learned over the years; The pie is exceptionally hot when it comes out of the oven! Peel the pastry off and after giving it a stir, let it cool down a bit (if you can!) before you tuck in. If you honestly cant wait, I sympathise; gargling cold water to ease the blisters that are now forming on the roof of you mouth! (But, it was oddly satisfying, right?)
[ SERVES: 3 | TIME: 60MIN | COST: $10 ]
300 gm free range chicken
3 sheets of pre-made puff pastry
1 litre chicken stock
1 litre water
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
1 – 2 teaspoons mustard powder
1 tablespoon corn flour
drizzle of oil
- Cut the leek finely and set aside. Cut the chicken and potato into bite size pieces, and store separately.
- In a sauté pan, warm the oil before adding the mustard seeds and garlic. Cook until fragrant and when the mustard seeds have popped (photo 1 below).
- Add the leek and stir through to mix well. Cook until opaque and starting to caramelise. This will take about 10 minutes (photo 2 below).
- Remove the leek mixture from the sauté pan. Using a little oil, cook the chicken until browning.
- Once the chicken is cooked, add the mustard powder, leek mixture, potatoes and stock to the sauté pan. Mix well and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the potato is almost cooked. This should take about 15 – 20 minutes (photo 3 above). Top up with water as needed to stop the sauce from drying out.
- In a cup, mix one tablespoon corn flour with a little water. Remove sauté pan from the heat, and while stirring continually, slowly drizzle the cornflour mixture into the sauté pan. This will thicken your sauce, so ensure that you don’t pour it in too rapidly, and don’t stop stirring!
- Once your sauce is at the desired consistency, spoon it carefully into your ramekins or single serve pie dishes. Do not over fill or it will burst open during the oven phase.
- Cut your puff pastry to size and lay it gently over the top of your ramekins. Coat it with a little egg or milk wash and put into a moderate oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden.
- I cant stress how important it is to go slowly when adding your cornflour mixture to your pie filling. It will go gluggy and terrible in a heart beat if you add to much too quickly. You want to have a slow steady stream (emphasis: slow) of cornflour mixture going in while stirring continually.
- It is important to not overfill your ramekins. During the oven phase, the liquid will boil and burst through the pastry, leaking through your oven. Hint: Place your ramekins in a baking tray or on a cookie sheet for easy clean up.
- You could make your own pie pastry here, but I am very lazy and have opted for the pre made store bought puffed pastry.
- I don’t ever add additional salt to this dish. I find that the stock (even the salt reduced variety) is still quite salty in its own right. (I do season with pepper to taste though).
- After I’ve used a full litre of stock, I only top up with water. Three reasons: i) salt content and ii) the flavour overload effect and iii) no need to open another pack of stock that wont get used up this dish.
- Ethical Note: The obvious ethical note here is the chicken. I only ever use free ranged chicken because of the ethical situation regarding caged birds. Besides, its tastes better! I highly encourage people to do their own research on the meat industry, and become educated about what you eat. Free ranged chicken is not that much dearer in the hip pocket and is a whole lot lighter on the conciousness.
- Diabetic Note: The pastry in this dish, in addition to the potatoes is a Blood Glucose Level (BGL) killer. I have to forgo the crispy pastry delight for the betterment of my BGL readings. Weigh up your own exchanges here, but I find the meal has 2 – 3 exchanges without the pastry, 3 – 4 with.
- Vegetarian Option: I have made this dish several times for vegetarians by making the following changes:
- Use vegeta for the stock, but still only make one litre up as directed for the same reasons listed above.
- Double the potato and leek amounts, and add celery and parsley.