Sunday, 17 February 2008

Chicken Pie (Ballal's trick pie)
boneless chicken meat 400g (I used thigh)
2x celery sticks chopped in to 3cm pieces
bouquet garni (or table spoon dried herbs)
bay leaf
tbs cooking oil
1 large onion chopped finely
4 cloves of garlic minced
mushrooms (button, chestnut etc.) sliced
1 stick of celery chopped
½ carrot diced (optional)
25-30g butter
2-3 tbs flour
300ml stock (strained water the chicken was cooked in)
1tsp each dried herbs (parsley and thyme)
Flour 1tbs
1 egg beaten
puff pastry 250g
Serves 3/4
Preheat the oven to 220Âșc.
Cut meat in to small pieces of about 2cm and put in to a pan of boiling water along with the the celery, bouquet garni (or herbs), salt and bay leaf. Use plenty of water as this will be used as the stock later. Keep the water bubbling and the pan partially covered, the chicken will need to be cooked in this way and will take between 15 to 20 minutes.
Heat the oil in a pan and when hot add the onions and garlic fry them but do not let them burn or darken too much. Once the onions have softened add the remaining vegetables (if using) and gently fry until soft then remove pan from the fire and empty the onion/vegetable mix on to a plate and set aside.
Make your rue:
Pour the cooking water from the now cooked chicken pot through a sieve into a jug ready for use in the rue. Give the bouquet garni a good squeeze catching the flavoursome juices in the jug. Also discard the celery and bay leaf from amongst the chicken pieces.
Melt the butter in your pan and then add the flour and mix into the melting butter, you can now slowly add your stock to the pan whilst constantly stirring, keeping the heat very low. The trick with the rue / white sauce is that you can adjust the quantities as you wish in order to get the perfect consistency. It needs to be neither too thick nor to thin.
To you rue you may now add the cooked chopped chicken and the plate of softened sliced onions and vegetables, stir in so that every thing is coated.

Now comes the hard bit; trying not to eat this subtly fragranced, warming and delicious mixture, which now needs to be poured into a pie dish ready for the puff pastry covering.
Cover a clean cooking surface with the flour and roll out the puff pastry to a size that will cover your pie dish and a thickness of about ½cm. Place it over the dish and cut off the access edges. Push down the edges covering all the filling. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and pierce with fork to let out some of the steam.
Place your pie in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden and crispy.
I had my pie with some minted peas and boiled potatoes;
cook frozen peas as per pack instructions pop into a bowl and stir in a knob of butter and a teaspoon of mint sauce.
Boil potatoes drain when cooked and drizzle with a little garlic oil, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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