January is one of those 'nothing' months. Cold, dark, miserable and with no festivities to cheer us up. I have embarked (as most of us do post-Christmas) on a detox. I am not touching alcohol or sugar. I had so much food and drink in December I forgot what it feels like to be hungry. So I'm strangely excited about the thought of avoiding the leftover chocolates (of which there are many in all corners of the flat) and spending time in a pub without a glass of merlot in my hand. Granted, cake baking won't be quite as much fun an activity having to abstain from sampling the finishing product but no-pain-no-gain and all that. Last week, however, I was most definitely not treating my body as a temple and Christmas leftovers were duly hoovered up in various dishes (mostly savoury but one sweet - the Christmas pudding truffles were little gooey delights!) My personal favourite was a chicken and leek pie. This recipe can be modified to use turkey instead of chicken, or you could chuck in a few extra greens depending on what you have left. I also found a blackbird pie funnel in my stocking this year - what better excuse to get baking?
chicken and leek pie
for the pastry
500g plain flour
pinch of salt
for the filling
1 2kg roasted chicken
250ml double cream
250ml whole milk
2 tbsp plain flour
2 bay leaves
Pinch grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
Preheated oven - 170C
1. First make the pastry. Rub together the flour, salt and butter until they resemble breadcrumbs.Mix in enough of the beaten egg for the mixture to begin to form a firm, but not sticky, dough.
2. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in a fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a saucepan, mix together the cream and milk. Add the juices from the roasted chicken and gently heat.
4. Melt the butter and sweat the sliced onion over a gentle heat until soft. Add the sliced leeks and fry for 8 minutes.
5. Sprinkle over the flour and stir. One ladle at a time, add the heated cream mixture, stirring continuously until it begins to thicken.
6. Tear the chicken into pieces and stir into the pan. Leave this to cool.
7. Now grease an oval pie dish, approx. 30cm x 20cm. Cut the pastry in half and roll it out thinly. Line the pie dish with one half, fill it with the cooled filling and then place the other half of the pastry on the top. Seal down the edges by pressing the pastry together and brush the top with the beaten egg. Cut a few slits into the middle of the pie lid (or use a pie funnel).
8. Put the pie into the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes or until the pie is golden brown.