Ella’s Chicken, Mushroom & Spinach Puff Pie
- Serves 4 (plus left overs for the next day if not too greedy!)
- Use a heatproof oven dish approx. 20 cm x 15cm x 8cm (deep)
When you place into the oven, place the dish onto a baking sheet BIGGER than your dish so that it catches any drips and avoids a messy, smokey oven the next day.
· 6 x boneless and skinless FREE RANGE, (ideally organic) chicken thights (I like to get these fresh from the local butcher and not from the supermarket – ask them to prepare them for you and remove as much fat as possible)
· 160g smoked bacon lardons (or chop 6 rashers of smoked back bacon into small pieces)
· 200g baby button mushrooms
· 100g baby leaf spinach
· 2 x leeks (washed and finely sliced)
· 500g puff pastry (I suggest buying this than making your own, but the satisfaction of making your own pie with your OWN puff pastry is out of this world, so if you have the time and the patience, do try it)
· 2 tsp chopped thyme
· 2 tsp chopped rosemary
· 1 whole egg
· Maldon salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning
For the sauce:
· 100g gruyere, grated
· 50ml white wine
· 50ml double cream
· 900ml warm milk
· 300ml warm chicken stock
· 50g butter
· 50g plain flour
· Salt (I prefer Maldon) and cracked black pepper
Approx cooking time: 45 mins - 1 hour prep and 30-40 mins cooking
1. Heat a heavy based non stick large frying pan on the hob.
2. Place the chicken thighs into a clean bowl and season with cracked black pepper
3. Add a splash of oil and 2tsp of Maldon salt to the saucepan
4. Carefully place the chicken thighs into the pan – they should sizzle when they touch the pan. Use tongs for this (invest in some if you don’t have any, they will change your life!).
5. There should be plenty of space in your pan so the thighs should not be touching each other – if they are then do a few at a time.
6. Heat the chicken on all sides until you have what looks like a crispy golden outer coating
7. Place the chicken into your heavy based heatproof dish and set aside.
8. Add the lardons to your frying pan and cook
9. Once starting to go crispy, add the leeks and cook until soft. Add the mushrooms and keep stirring until cooked.
10. Before removing from the heat, add in the chopped herbs (thyme and rosemary) and mix all together over the heat.
11. Sprinkle this mix into your dish with the chicken and set aside
12. Pour over the (uncooked) baby leaf spinach – this will wilt inside when you cook the pie
13. If you think your pie is looking a bit sparse, bulk up with peas or some more spinach or other green vegetables, but remember you have the sauce to fit in.
14. Make the sauce:
a. Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan
b. Stir in the flour, and keep stirring for 2 minutes
c. Pour in the warm milk and chicken stock gradually (you must be patient here and add a bit at a time). Each time you pour some into the mixture, you must stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to avoid lumps).
d. Once you have added all the milk/stock, stir over a medium heat for approximately 10 minutes until thickened and lump free. At this point add your wine, and stir in.
e. If you do find your sauce has created some lumps, you can cheat and use a blitzer to get rid of them – no one will know!
f. Remove the sauce from the heat (once thickened) and add the grated cheese and cream at this point
g. Stir well then pour over the chicken mix
15. Leave the chicken dish to the side to cool (For at least one hour). If you want to leave this in the fridge overnight without covering it with pastry, it will be absolutely fine.
16. Once the chicken and sauce mix is cool, you can top with pastry.
17. Roll the pastry onto a floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin.
18. Carefully place the pastry over the top of the pie, not worrying if you have overhanging edges.
19. Use a fork to make indentations all around the edge of the pie dish, to stick the pastry to the dish.
20. Use a sharp knife to cleanly cut away the excess pastry.
21. Make a hole in the middle of the pie to allow the air to escape when cooking.
22. Use the excess pastry to make pretty designs on top such as leaves, initials or anything else that takes your fancy!
23. Completely chill the dish in the fridge for at least one hour to ensure the pastry has a chance to settle.
24. Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.
25. Crack and Beat the egg into a small bowl and use a pastry brush to neatly glaze the top of your pie.
26. Sprinkle over some cracked black pepper and Maldon salt.
27. Place into the oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes until the puff pastry has risen and is golden.
28. Check, and move the pie around (if, for example one side is cooked more than another, which is very common in older more uneven ovens)
29. Cook for another 15 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius
30. Check the pie is cooked by inserting a sharp knife through the middle and if steam escapes and the sauce is bubbling, it is ready.
31. You can cover the pie with foil and place in a warming oven if you are not serving immediately, but I would not advise doing this for more than 45 minutes as it will start to dry out.
32. Serve with lovely fresh mint peas and creamy mash potato for a lovely warming family supper.
33. This pie tastes even better when re heated the next day, so perhaps double the recipe to make two and have left overs!