You know those healthy recipes I love to bang on about on this site? Yeah, well this isn't one of them. In fact, there's pretty much nothing healthy about it. It is high in fat, loaded with calories and the carb count is also up there. But it tastes like it's made from the tail of a unicorn. And on Saturday, after I had squashed a big trail run in the wind and rain with The Gym Nazi, Prego and Long Distance, I wasn't too fussed about what I ate. See...they were all coming for lunch with their lovely wives and I figured we had more than earned it.
There are plenty of cheats for this recipe. You can buy a whole chicken cooked and shred it yourself. You can buy chicken thighs and fry them. You can buy chicken stock. You can buy puff-pastry instead of making your own. You can buy a white sauce instead of your own. You can blah blah blah blah blah. The recipe below is how to do it if you have the time and are willing. Otherwise, take a little shortcut.
Stuff you'll need to feed 8:
For the stock and chicken:
- 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 onions, quartered
- 5 cloves of garlic, cut in half
- 2 pieces of celery, roughly chopped
- 2 medium sized chickens (I used my favourite Spier ones)
- 2 teaspoons of thyme
- A few black peppercorns
For the rest of the filling:
- 4 big handfuls of mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used shiitake and porcini)
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- A teaspoon of thyme
For the pastry:
- 2 coffee cups of cake flour
- Half a teaspoon cream of tartar
- A teaspoon of salt
- 250g of STALK baking margarine, cut into cubes
- 2 egg yolks
- A cup of ice cold water (it is essential that the water is cold)
Okay, what to do:
1. Place the carrots, onion, garlic, thyme, peppercorns and celery in a pot of water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and submerge the chicken in the pot. Place a side plate over the chicken to make sure it is covered by the water.
2. Poach the chicken for approximately 1 hour, or until cooked. Repeat for second chicken. Keep the beautiful stock you have just made.
3. Once the chicken has cooled, shred the meat and set aside.
4. Cook the sliced mushrooms and onion in some butter and thyme until softened. Set aside with the chicken. (You might have to do the mushrooms in two batches to avoid them stewing)
5. Make your pastry. Start by combining all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add STALK margarine and work in with your fingers until combined. Add the egg yolks and a little bit of the water (your dough mustn't be too wet). Work in to create a nice smooth dough. If it is too wet, add a bit more flour. Too dry, throw in a bit more water. When it is a nice ball, cover with clingfilm and place in fridge for 30 minutes.
5. Make your white sauce by adding some butter and flour to the pan. Using a whisk, combine the two to make sure the butter is coated with the flour. The appearance should be dry, like breadcrumbs.
6. Skim off any white fat from your chicken stock and start slowly adding it to your flour and butter, continuing to whisk gently. It is important that you never stop whisking. Once your sauce has a good consistency remove from heat.
7. When your pastry is ready, remove from fridge and roll out on a floured surface. Carefully use it to line two suitable dishes and cut off extra pastry to leave a 'lip" hanging over the edge. Use your fingers to press it down into the bottom of the dishes, being careful not to tear the pastry.
8. Cut two circles out from the pastry to serve as lids from the pies and pour the filling in to both pies. Place lids on top and using your thumb and index finger pinch the pastry together, moving along the dish as you work.
9. When you're done place pies in oven pre-set at 220 degrees celsius and bake for 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and flaky.
Jeez, that was a long process! Are you still with me? Look, it is a bit more difficult than my other recipes but as I said you can simplify it by cutting a few corners in the preparation. Even if you do, I guarantee it will taste a whole lot better than anything you buy pre-packaged and bought off the shelf of a supermarket.
I served this with a simple green salad and on the advice of a fellow blogger and wine ninja some good buttery Chardonnay. It was beautiful.