So I’ve been doing some research, and I found that apparently, chicken pie is very, very old. It’s thought to have been around during Roman times. Although, that’s not terribly surprising: pie is essentially meat with some pastry around it, and pastry is essentially animal fat (lard) and flour – these ingredients are and have been staples in the Western diet for a very long time. So it’s also not that surprising that it was a stock-standard meal during the reign of Elizabeth I of England.
Apparently, the first cherry pie was baked for Queen Elizabeth – oh the perks of being the queen (but I’m not convinced that one pie outweighs the sacrifices)! During the 1500s the English used a thing called “chicken peepers” to stuff their pies with – what’s a chicken peeper? Fair question – it sounds ludicrous and a bit disgusting, but in actual fact, a chicken peeper was a small chicken stuffed with gooseberries! How quaintly British!
So, despite it’s age and rich history, I couldn’t find a single chicken pie recipe in my not-so-small collection of recipe books! Now, that was surprising. Keep in mind that I have a range of books, all by British and Australian heavyweights (and then some…). Not one pie recipe! (Although, to tell the truth, I didn’t consult Donna Hay, because I knew she wouldn’t have any sort of write-up about pies and their history like Nigella Lawson would, and that’s what I was really after!)
Nevertheless, we have a hand-written chicken and leek pie, and I have no idea where it came from, but I’m told it’s a family friend’s recipe…so there is some investigating to be done, me thinks.
Also, in case you thought that pie was a greatly underrated and forgotten aspect of our blossoming society, there is an American Pie Council, just to reassure you that there are people out there who devote their lives to making sure pie is understood, accepted and appreciated! I think we can all sleep soundly tonight. I will.
*photo credit to Aimee!
Chicken and Leek Pie
2 leeks, sliced
500g chicken mince
1 tin or 2 cobs of corn kernels
1/3 cup plain flour
2 tsp chicken stock powder
dried or fresh thyme or oregano, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste
2 ready-made puff pastry sheets (or make your own!)
sesame seeds (optional)
- Grease a pie dish with oil or butter and line with 1 sheet of pastry. Blind bake for around 10 minutes, then remove paper and weights and cook for another 5-10 minutes until cooked through.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and add leeks. Cook for around 10 minutes or until the leek is soft and cooked through.
- Add the chicken and stir constantly to break up the chicken, until it’s almost cooked through.
- Add the corn, milk, flour, stock and thyme and stir well.
- Allow to simmer for around 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and you’re left with a large gloopy mess of yum.
- Spoon mixture into the cooked pastry case, top with the second sheet of pastry, crimping the edges, glazing with milk or egg, and topping with sesame seeds, if desired.
- Bake at 200C fan-forced for around 20 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked and golden.
- Serve immediately with roasted vegetables or mashed potato (and greek yoghurt works really nicely on top too!)