The perfect comforting pie that’s simple to do
PREP TIME: 25 mins
COOKING TIME: 1 hr
DIFFICULTY: not too tricky
IDEAL FOR: midweek meal, family, crowd
We all like a good pie.
But pies around the world can take on different meanings.
In American they seem to call what I consider a pudding a ‘pie’ e.g. Key Lime Pie.
Then there’s the ‘slice of pie’ for a pizza slice.
Here in England (and I’m sorry to say this) to my great disappointment, I ordered a pie in a pub many years ago
And the only thing ‘pie’ about it was the lonely pastry lid that covered the meat.
Where was the rest of the pastry??… like a real pie!
We don’t mess about with pies
I’m a Kiwi.
The basic rule is… a pie is meat (or veg) wrapped in pastry ALL the way around.
The mighty pie is part of our national identity.
It’s part of our cultural fabric.
I have many memories attached to pies… late-night-out pie, petrol-station-pie, après-ski-pies post-beach pie.
To us, if you’re talking about a pie, it usually means a single-serve portion.
Easily held in one hand and usually sold to you in a brown paper bag.
In New Zealand, the pie is still voted no.1 as our favourite comfort food.
And that’s ahead of our amazing ‘Tip-Top’ ice-cream and ‘Whittakers’ chocolate.
So that’s saying something.
These days, you can get everything from your basic pies such as mince, potato top or steak and cheese pies…
To rather fancy gourmet pies with goats’ cheese and kumera or smoked salmon and dill.
I’m old school so hand me a mince pie or steak and cheese please.
Love for pies
The Brits also love pie.
They’ve had a much longer history and development with the humble pie.
And I see less of the ‘pie-lid-not-really-a-pie’ on pub menus.
Now there is a great deal of pride in making the best pastry for a proper pie.
Who invented the pie?
But the pie goes even further back than mid-14th Century England.
The Egyptians were said to have invented the beginnings of the first type of pie.
Although I’m not sure we’d recognise it as a pie.
Then the Ancient Greeks upped the game and invented pie pastry.
But it was the Romans who then made pastry from flour, oil and water.
However, the pastry wasn’t for eating (much like the first English pies).
It was only used the pastry to preserve the filling for storage and voyages.
The pie keeps on giving
By medieval times, cooks would try to outdo each other as pies became the centrepiece of exclusive banquets.
These days you can use many different types of pastry – puff pastry, filo and shortcrust.
And the fillings range from classic ingredients through to the more gourmet palate.
But one thing remains.
Pie pride. Every cook (experienced or a novice) takes great pride in their pie pastry and tasty fillings.
For this recipe, I used from favourites – chicken, leek and ham – inspired by the Hairy Bikes recipe
Have you got a favourite pie recipe? Feel free to share on the comments
Chicken, leek and ham pie
- 450 ml chicken stock
- 3 chicken breasts, skin removed
- 75 g butter
- 2 leeks, cut into 1cm slices
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 55 g plain flour
- 200 ml milk
- 3 tbsp white wine
- 150 ml double cream
- 150 g piece thickly carved ham, cut into 2cm chunks (try the deli counter or an independent deli)
- salt and pepper to season
- 350 g
plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 200 g butter
- 2 free-range eggs. (1 beaten with 1 tbsp cold water. Plus 1 free-range egg, beaten, to glaze)
- In saucepan with a lid, heat the chicken stock and then add the chicken breasts and bring to a low simmer.Put the lid on and cook for around 10 minutes.Once this is done, remove them to a plate and pour the remaining liquid into a jug.
Cooking the leeks making a sauce for our pie.
- Take a large saucepan and melt the butter on a low heat then stir in your leeks and fry until softened (approx 2 mins).Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the rest of the butter, melt it and then stir in the flour.Stir constantly for around 30 seconds and then slowly pour the milk in, stirring well so it mixes.
- Next, add 250 ml of the reserved stock from your jug and the wine and stir until the sauce is smooth and thickened a little.Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.Season with salt and pepper.
- Now, take off the heat and stir in the cream. Lastly, pour into a large bowl and cover the surface of the sauce with cling film to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C.
- See notes, below, for how to make shortcrust pastry by hand. Here's the food processor version.
- Put the flour and butter in a food processor.Blend on pulse setting until the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs.Now (food processor still running), add the beaten egg and water mix and blend until the mixture forms a ball.Take off 250g pastry for the lid.
- Roll the rest of the pastry out on a lightly floured surface until it's around 5mm thick and 4cm larger than the pie dish. Over the rolling pin, lift the pastry and gently place it into the pie dish. Press the pastry firmly up the sides, getting all the air bubbles out. Leave the excess pastry overhanging the sides.
Assembling the pie
- Cut your chicken pieces into 3cm pieces and stir into the cooled sauce wirth your ham chunks.Now, pour all this filling into the pie dish.
- Brush the rim of the dish with the beaten egg, then roll the extra 'lid' pastry and cover the pie.Press the edges together firmly to seal and now trim and excess pastry away.
- Cut a small hole in the middle of the pie with a knife and glaze the top of the pie with the beaten egg.
- Bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes, or until the pie is golden brown all over and the filling is piping hot.