TRADITIONAL WELSH FOOD -
BWYD CYMREIG TRADDODIADOL
MODERN WELSH COOKING -
COGINIO CYMREIG CYFOES
PASTAI BLASUS CYW A CHENNIN!
FABULOUS CHICKEN AND LEEK PIE!
By Ken Thorne, Ninnau Food Editor.
Great food photography nowadays is the norm in most cookbooks. What an inspiration it can be! The creative and colorful presentations have become the buying point for many cookbook fans. Such was the case recently when I came across Fabulous Food written by Gary Rhodes. The photo of an individual chicken and leek pie caught my eye. After reading the recipe, I had to make the pie - for me! This is no ordinary potpie, the crusty pastry, the white breast meat and leeks, all smoothly coated with a white sauce, looked irresistible.
I made the pie and it was as wonderful as it looked! The crusty flavorful pastry would be a treat on it’s own but with the chicken and leek filling – heaven on a plate! The filling is so flexible a preparation, it can also be served over a bed of potato pancakes, alongside/over mashed potatoes or with pasta. If you prefer, this filling is also just about the right quantity for a double-crusted 9-inch pie.
A word about Gary Rhodes: he is the author of several cookbooks and a BBC Food Personality. The Welsh connection, he has appeared on BBC Wales and with the predominance of leeks, this recipe will satisfy the most stringent of Welsh taste buds.
Other recipes in the book that caught my eye were Four Hour Slowly Braised Leg of Lamb – I’ve tried it and it’s very good and extremely tender. Also a childhood favorite of mine – the additive Wagon Wheel – a decadent combination of a thick marshmallow layer sandwiched between two raspberry jam coated soft cookies, all hidden under a covering of chocolate! Take a bite or two or three……….Yummy!
CYFARWYDDIAD - RECIPE
Pastai Cyw a Chennin
Chicken and Leek Pie
4 oz butter or as needed, divided
2 lb chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 onions, diced
2 sprigs thyme, fresh (optional)
2 sprigs parsley, fresh, flat leaf (optional)
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 1/2 cups Chicken Stock (600 ml)
salt and pepper
2 leeks, medium, cut into 1 in slices
1 1/4 cups cream, heavy whipping (300ml)
1/2 tsp lemon juice – or to taste
8 oz mushrooms, white button or your favorite (optional addition)
4 pastry shells – see note.
Ninnau Editor’s optional choices are italicized.
In a saucepan, melt the butter and sauté the chicken for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the onions, herbs and continue to cook for another 3 – 4 minutes. Add the garlic, chicken stock and seasoning. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 - 20 minutes until tender. While the chicken is cooking, plunge the leeks into salted, boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes until tender. Drain, run cold water over them and set aside.
Lift the chicken and onions from the stock and strain the stock through a sieve. Reduce the stock by two thirds and add the cream. Bring to a simmer and reduce to a coating consistency. Season and flavor with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Optional: In the meantime, add some butter to a sauté pan, cook the mushrooms until softened.
Once everything has been cooked, mix the chicken with the leeks and mushrooms. Moisten with half of the sauce. Divide between the pastry shells and bake. The remaining chicken sauce may be warmed and poured around the pie before serving.
Chicken Breasts: I prefer to use split breasts (skin-on, bone-in) for extra flavor and cube later when the chicken is temporarily removed from the pan.
Herbs: The thyme and parsley really enhanced the flavor of this dish. One taster commented, "You hit the right combinations for a great taste. I would suggest adding just a touch of tarragon to round it off." I have not tried the tarragon but I think it was a good idea.
Mushrooms: I used baby portabellas. White button mushrooms work well but I do highly recommend the addition of mushrooms.
Pastry shells: For an individual servings you will require four shells (4 in diameter by 3 in high) made from savory short-crust dough – suggest about a teaspoon of finely chopped thyme be mixed into the dough for extra flavor. Use puff pastry for the top - brushed with whisked egg. The making of the shells does require some extra time and having the proper baking rings.
Alternately, easier way to enjoy the dish is to make a double crusted 9 inch round pie. Buy or made the short-crust and puff pastry. Any left over filing may be used to top a baked potato for lunch!
Sauce: A word to the wise – use only about one half to two thirds of the sauce to moisten up the chicken otherwise it will percolate up onto your crust in the final stages of baking!
Recipe adapted from Fabulous Food by Gary Rhodes. Published by Dorling Kindersley, NYC, NY. In hardcover, the book has many great color photographs, 256 pages. $24.95.
If you are interested in this book we have a few copies available in new unread condition - please visit our Cookbooks Page!