π, No not that one, Pie! My take on an Egyptian Neolithic period or New Stone Age food!

Hi peeps, it’s Sunday, I’ve finished work until the 6th January and don’t need an excuse to get in the kitchen. We had planned to have Chicken on Saturday night, but instead went for a Cheese Fondue as I wanted to do something a little special, and Roast Chicken and all the trimmings so close to Christmas just didn’t seem right.

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I absolutely love a good Pie, but getting one is really challenging, I believe the best are ones made with love and care in your own home, by your own hands and fresh as a daisy!  I am sure there are good Pie’s available but quite often my eating habits change within the space of five minutes, so here is my take on something that first surfaced in 9500BC!

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For me a good Pie is made of the best ingredients you can get (or afford), in this case an excellent Free Range Chicken from our favourite supplier, no added ANYTHING! You also need a quality stock to make a sauce, the carcass of the Chicken is the base of this, with some aromatics such as Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley, Peppercorns and a Star Anise.

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I roasted the Chicken on the Saturday evening,  put half a head of Garlic in the cavity along with a halved Clementine, rubbed Olive Oil all over the skin and seasoned with Salt and Pepper. Roasting took 1 hour 20 minutes in my case, I then covered the beast with a couple of layers of foil, and a towel and let cool for a good couple of hours. Transfer the Chicken to the fridge, covering with greaseproof paper and foil to keep all those flavours where they need to be! DON’T clean the roasting dish, you are going to use it in the morning so cover with some foil to keep any nasties out.

The stock is simmering as I am writing this blog entry.

Earlier this morning I stripped the carcass of its meat and put the carcass back in the same roasting dish I used last night, adding to the flavour with the juices and crispy bits. Also in the dish went a stick of celery and a carrot, cut into chunks, and two onions cut in half with their skins still on, then into a 180deg oven (160 deg fan) for 1 hour.

Once roasted put into a stock pot if you have one, or a large saucepan along with about 4 pints of water, a bunch of Parsley, 2 sprigs of Thyme, a sprig of Rosemary, 10 Black Peppercorns (Lampung in my case), 5 White Peppercorns (I used Muntok) and one Star Anise. The Stock needs to gently simmer for 4 hours, skimming any impurities of the surface as you go.WP_20131222_15_07_42_Pro

After 4 hours, remove the stock from the heat and filter through a sieve, the aromas filling the kitchen were….CHICKEN! You can see a small amount of fat on the surface, this can be removed when the stock has cooled down if you want too.

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Whilst the stock is simmering, you can attack the Pâte Feuilletée or Puff Pastry. I know the shop bought stuff is apparently good, but this was to be a special pie and so an excuse to have a go myself. I followed the instructions of the well renowned Richard Bertinet, in his book Pastry, which I mentioned in the last blog.

There are a number of stages to go through, with chilling between each so allow yourself enough time (you could go and buy some but it won’t be the same!)

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This is my attempt after I had added ice cold water to the flour, and knocked ten tons of, no, only joking, flattened the butter between two sheets of cling film. After another chill in the fridge, the butter will be incorporated into the flour mix in layers.

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There a two ways of folding to create Puff Pastry, Double Book and Single. Double Book is where you take each end and fold it into the middle. Single is where you fold ONE end in, and the other overlaps.  Just for a challenge I went for single, which requires 6 folds and 1/2 hour resting in the fridge after each (Its not a fast process!). This is mine after fold three, the finger dimples are intentional to enable you to remember where you are!

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In between the puff pastry process you can start to prepare the filling. You need Onions, Garlic, Button Mushrooms, Butter, Flour, Stock, Roast Chicken (chopped) and frozen Peas; Salt and Pepper to taste, Herbs de Provence or whatever flavourings you fancy. I included a small amount of Chilli to provide a background warmth.

Chop the Onions and fry gently in some Butter and Olive Oil until translucent, then add the Garlic (crushed or chopped) and continue to cook. Quarter the button Mushrooms and add, cooking for at least 5 minutes then the Roast Chicken and a tablespoon or so of Flour, and continue to cook, then about 300 ml of the freshly prepared Chicken Stock. Gently simmer for about 15 mins and towards the end, chuck in about 3 handfuls of frozen peas and remove from the heat. It should look like the above.

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To accompany ‘The Pie’ was going to be one of my all time favourite potato dishes, Gratin Dauphinoise. Layers of Potato, Garlic, Salt & Pepper and grated Nutmeg, filled with double cream and cooked slowly until golden and bubbling. Its a very rich and flavoursome dish that can be a meal in its own right.

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I topped mine with grated Grana Padano Italian hard Cheese which i deemed acceptable as the dish is from the Dauphiné area of France, near the Italian border, you could also use Gruyere as an alternative.

Back to the Pastry and we are almost done. We are now at turn six of the single turn method.

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When you cut the Pastry you can see the thin wafer like layers of Butter, we are going to make a Flat Pie and you need to make the lid slightly larger than the base to cover the filling.

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Once you have the base rolled out to a thickness of a slightly less than a pound coin, brush egg wash  about an inch around the edge, pile in the chilled filling and place the lid on top. To seal the edges I used the thumb and two finger method to crimp the edge, and then rolled like a Cornish Pasty edge, nothing was escaping this bad boy!

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Brush the lid with egg wash and put in the fridge to relax for 10 mins. The take it out the fridge, egg  wash it again (this will help it go a deep brown colour) and using the BACK of a sharp knife, gently make curve patterns from the centre to the edge. If you don’t do this after the egg wash, you will loose the pattern. You can also make an incision in the centre to let some of the steam out during cooking.

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Approximately 45 minutes in a 180deg oven and you should end up with something like the above, be brave and turn the heat up a little during the last 10-15 mins, you want a deep brown and nearly caramelised colour and finish. The pastry should be flaky and crispy, the filling succulent and flavoursome.

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I also fancied another favourite, Green Beans & Pancetta, cooked beans, rolled in the salty Italian Bacon and fried quickly for a few minutes to crisp up.

The Boss is generally not to fussed about pies, until she tried this one, it was stunning, tasty and there is plenty left over for tea on Monday. So here it is, my take on a Pie, you could use Beef or Pork if you don’t like Chicken, just make the appropriate Stock base to match the filling.

As an aside, I use a Camera Phone for the pictures on my Blog. Those very kind people at Nokia gave me the Lumia 1020 last week, a 41 Megapixel beast with Carl Zeiss lense, the pictures on this entry were taken on the new Nokia.

Previous entries were on either the Nokia 920, BlackBerry Z10 or Samsung S4. (Maybe you can guess what my day job might be?) Maybe you can see the difference, i’m not the best photographer or stylist but try to make the images ‘real’.

Hope you all have a very Happy Christmas.

L8ers….

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