Summer seems reluctant to leave this year. The days are bathed in warm sunshine, and green leaves are still clinging onto their branches. It’s only when dusk comes, and the crisp, cold evening air settles in, that you are reminded that autumn is indeed upon us.
This week’s Book Club recipe is perfect for these colder nights. The third recipe I’ve tried this month from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries II, this pie is beautiful. A filling of chicken, leeks and parsley is topped with a gorgeous, golden crust of puff pastry.
I bought a whole chicken for this recipe and jointed it before roasting the pieces in a hot oven until the skin became crispy and bronzed. The smell of roast chicken is one of just sheer pleasure isn’t it; up there with freshly cut grass, strong coffee and for me, scotch tape.
Once cooled, the chicken was torn into large chunks and little nuggets of meat while the rest of the filling was made.
I sliced four leeks and cooked them gently in a pan with water and butter until softened, and the mound of vegetables had reduced in the pan and turned a fluorescent shade of green.
Flour and chicken stock were stirred through to make a thickish sauce, before adding the cooked chicken, bay leaves, chopped parsley and seasoning.
I tipped the chicken and leek mixture into my deepest pie dish, and topped it with a round disk of puff pastry. Verity chose a couple of heart cutters to make the decorations for the top. The pie was brushed with egg and milk and baked for twenty-five minutes until the pastry was crisp, golden and beautiful.
I have never been overly keen on leeks, but in this pie, they were meltingly soft and sweet. The sauce was thick and glossy without being cloggy, and the chicken was beautifully moist. With there being so few ingredients, the parsley and bay were left to perfume the pie. It was subtle, but oh so comforting and absolutely delicious.
We ate it, as pie always should be, with mountains of creamy mashed potato.
Next Week: The WILDCARD | The Kitchen Diaries II