Chicken, Leek, Fennel and Mushroom Pies

The chicken pie is a classic dish and the delicious creamy filling with the crisp shortcrust pastry shell, makes such a satisfying meal.

It is perfect for using left over roast chicken that you may have, transforming it into something special. Here we are using individual pie plates.

In this recipe, the leeks and fennel give sweetness to the tender chicken. The sauteed mushrooms cooked in garlic and parsley add extra level of flavour. The bechamel sauce that binds these flavours has been made with a mixture of chicken stock and milk and a little grated Parmesan, making it light and creamy.

I have made my own stock by poaching chicken with onion, carrot, parsley and celery, but any good stock will do.

The filling and its elements can be made ahead the day before.

Therefore these little pies are actually less work than it seems. As each of the main elements can be made ahead, all that remains is to make the pastry and assemble the pies. Gathering and pleating the pastry into a dome keeps the filling in, contrasting with pies that are made with the traditional way.

In a short half hour the pies are ready and the creamy filling and crispy browned pastry with its dusting of nigella seeds and their herbaceous, warm toasted onion flavour, will delight you.

Chicken, Leek, Fennel and Mushroom Pies

Ingredients:

Shortrust Pastry:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 85g butter
  • 9 Tblsp chilled water
  • Nigella seeds

Filling:

  • 200 g cooked chicken, chopped into small pieces
  • 200 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 leek, washed and chopped into thin rings
  • 1/4 of a fennel, sliced thin
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tblsp finely chopped parsley
  • 2 Tblsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 knob of butter

Bechamel:

  • 250 ml Chicken stock (I have made mine to poach the chicken)
  • 250 ml Full cream milk
  • 60 g Butter
  • 1/3 cup Plain flour
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 Tblsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Making Shortcrust Pastry:

1. Using a food processor with the  chopping blade, add flour and salt and securing the cover, process for 5 seconds. (equivalent to sifting)


2. Add butter and process until combined, about 15 seconds

3. Add the chilled water  a little at a time through the feed tube and process until the pastry forms a ball.

4. Remove and cover the pastry ball in cling wrap and rest it for half and hour in the fridge

Now continue to make the filling during this time if you haven’t made it ahead of time already.

Preparing the Filling: (This could be made the day before)

Leeks and Fennel:

1. Preheat oven to 200º C F
2. Prepare the leek by washing it well remove any soil
3. Slice the leek into 1 cm slices across the leek

4. Slice the fennel thinly


5. Place the fennel and leek slices in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, mixing the oil through the slices
6. Drizzle olive oil over the base of an oven tray lined with baking paper and scatter the slices of fennel and leek over the tray


7. Season with freshly ground black pepper
8. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes until the fennel and leek are soft

Quick Sauteed Mushrooms:

Directions for preparing the mushrooms are on a previous post at this link:

The ingredients are listed above and they will only take 2 minutes to cook.

Bechamel

1 Warm the milk and the chicken stock

2 Begin making making the roux by melting the butter

3. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, pinch of ground nutmeg and 1/4 tsp salt

4. Remove from the heat and whisk through the warmed milk and chicken stock till smooth

5. Return to the heat and continue whisking till the bechamel comes to the boil and the sauce thickens

6. Then lower the heat and cook for a minute then remove from the heat and stir in 2 Tblsp of ground Parmesan cheese

7.Stir the chopped cooked chicken, leek and fennel and sauteed mushrooms through the bechamel sauce till well combined.

8. Check and season if required. Cover and set aside while you roll out the pastry to make the pies

Assembling the Pies:

1 Preheat the oven to 200 C

2. Remove the ball of pastry from the fridge and divide it into 5 pieces

3. Roll each piece into a ball then roll it out into a circle large enough to extend beyond the diameter of the pie plate

4. Drape the circles of pastry over the pie plate

5. Carefully ease the pastry into the pie plates

6. Prick the pastry base and sides all over with a fork being careful not to go through the entire thickness of the pastry

7. Spoon the prepared chicken filling into the pastry

8. Gather up the pastry, pleating as you go and pressing the pleats of pastry to seal them, leaving an opening at the top as a vent for steam

9. Brush the pies with milk and sprinkle the nigella seeds over them

10. Place a tray into the preheated oven and heat it for 5 minutes

11. Then put the pies in the oven and bake them for 10 minutes at 200 C

12. When this time has passed, lower the heat to 180 C and bake for 20-25 minutes, keeping an eye close to the end of the cooking time. The filling will begin to boil out of the opening so if you see a little coming out, the pies will be done and remove them to a cooling rack

13. Rest the pies in their pie plates for 5 minutes then remove gently to serving dishes. They should come out easily. The pies will be nicely browned with a crisp crust

14. Serve the chicken, leek, and mushroom pies with a garden salad of green leaves or other vegetables

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