Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Food of love: chicken pot pie and Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc

People often ask me how the recipes are born. Sure, sometimes they are a result of carefully thought through planning. But often (*sighs*), like this one, they are results of trial and error. And accidents. A whole lot of accidents. But then again, that's how many great things have seen the daylight in the history of humanity: Champagne, penicillin, discovery of America... and Donald Trump's hair, I can only imagine.

Initially my plan was to make one of those filo-crust Greek chicken pies that I so fell in love with in Greece last summer. But filo pastry is not my friend. Oh, no. The filling, however, was so tasty, I recycled the idea into this, English-style pie. 

The pie, which charms already with its rustic appearance, does take some time (what with the cooking the whole chicken, but it is worth the effort. And it most decidedly is labour of love. As you're pulling the meat out of the carcass, your kitchen full of homely aromas from the poaching liquid; onion, thyme and garlic, you can't help but be transported into a small Greek village.

The sun is shining, the sheep are baah'ing in the valley down below and laughter of children playing outside can be heard in the kitchen, too. There's that familiar clatter of dishes as the long table is being set in the shade underneath the olive tree for lunch. Soon there's another familiar sound as the cork pops open and wine is being poured into the glasses and it's time to sit down and enjoy being together. "C'mon everybody- time to eat!"

And if preparing the pie is labour of love, love is what it tastes of, too. Serve it with salad on the side and its rich enough to be the star of your next Sunday lunch.

In case you want a traditional pie with the crust all the way through, use two sheets of puff pastry. Roll the first one to cover the base and sides of your dish, cover it with tin foil and pre-bake at 200º (180º should do for fan assisted ovens) for 20 minutes. The remove the foil, add the filling and follow the instructions on the recipe. 

In case your chicken is all natural (as in, no seasoning on it at all), remember to be generous with salt and pepper!

Puff pastry covered chicken pie:

3 stalks of celery 
3 carrots
3 onions
4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
bunch of thyme (or 1/4 dl dried)
4 bay leaves
1 entire chicken (about 1,4 kg)
a couple of tbsp oil, for sautéing

3 eggs, lightly beaten

salt, pepper (to taste)

1 large sheet of (ready made) puff pastry (for kosher pie, use vegan puff pastry)

for glazing: 1 egg, lightly beaten

Pat the chicken dry. Chop the veggies into 1 cm cubes. Heat oil in a big pot and sauté the veggies for a couple of minutes. Then add thyme and the bay leaves. Keep cooking them, too, for a couple of more minutes and then add chicken. Pour enough water into the pot to almost cover the chicken and bring to boil. Then lower the heat and leave to simmer, covered, until chicken is done - about 1,5 hours.

Remove the chicken and leave aside until cool enough to handle. Drain the poaching liquid (don't discard the veggies!) and pour it back into the pan. Reduce, uncovered, until you're left with 2,5 dl of stock. Let cool to room temperature and combine with the eggs. 

Once chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and shred the meat. Add into the veggies and pour in the poaching liquid. Check the taste and season with salt and pepper. 

Pour the mixture into the pie dish (mine was 20 cm x 30 cm). Brush the edges and sides of the dish with the glaze - this helps the lattice to stick.

Roll the pastry sheet and cut, lengthwise, into 1,5 cm strips. Place them over the pie dish into one direction at even intervals. Then weave the remaining ones across them by lifting every other of the strips of the first round. Brush with the remaining glaze and bake at 200º until the filling is bubbling and the crust is beautifully golden - about 30-35 minutes. 

Let cool a little and serve.

And the verdict? "Tastes just like something my Nonna would have made!" sighed Tzatziki Champion who came over for last week's Sunday lunch. As I said. Pure love. 

And since Sundays are to be enjoyed (and I did mention the promising sound of wine being poured...) we, too, cracked open a bottle. Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc, to be precise. The toastiness borders on smokey and goes well with the toastiness of puff pastry crust (would go well with salmon en croûte, too!) Oakiness adds edge to its ripe fruitiness and this would work well with richer, creamier dishes, too. Or grilled chicken. 

And hey, if you like this wine, try it with my recipe for okonomiyaki, Japanese cabbage-filled omelet.





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