Fuck I love pies! They were the first food I can remember thinking of as my favourite, the after rugby training, breakfast on long road trips kind of nourishment for the soul I still reach for after a hard night out, or before one! Dirty little meat sacks of joy and a down to earth wonder of triumphant culinary awesomeness.
Growing up in a small country community, I mean really small! You miss out on certain things that city kids take for granted such as a canteen or tuck shop at your school. A tiny out post of education on the wild west coast of New Zealand’s north island, Waikaretu primary school had two class rooms, a swimming pool, an amazing adventure playground complete with a rope bridge, subterranean tunnels and a two storey high slide, and during my final year of learning there, the roster topped out at a whopping 20 students! And so with the lack of students there was no shop at the school and as soon as we were tall enough to reach the bench, mum has us making our own lunches, which generally consisted of two sandwiches, a piece of fruit, and some form of biscuitty treat thing. Making our own lunches had the hidden draw back of accountability, as in if you were feeling rather uninspired at the time you constructed your lunch and made yourself something shitty (tomato sauce and cheese sandwiches were my go to for lethargic mornings, my sister was all about ham and raspberry jam!) you were stuck eating the abomination you had made and had no one to blame but yourself. Likewise when you were feeling creative or adventurous, more often than not you found yourself choking down the horrendous concoction that only a few hours ago seemed like such a neat idea (note to self: dark soy sauce sandwiches are not a neat idea!!). Needless to say my initial forays into the realm of culinary exploration were met with wildly varied degrees of success.
Once a week however there would shine the the golden light at the end of that long tunnel filled with shitty sandwiches. The one day of the week you could actually purchase a hot lunch at our tiny, tight-knit school was always greatly anticipated. You could only purchase 3-4 different flavours of pie or sausage rolls, and at certain times of the year; flavoured milk. Pie Day as it was affectionately tagged, was the best day of the week, and if you were the kids who got to take the orders and get the pies in the warmer so they were ready for lunch time (known as the pie monitors) it was a position of great responsibility and pride; after all if you messed up the order and forgot someones coveted meat treat, you not only ruined their lunch, but pretty much fucked their whole week. Thats a lot of pressure for a kid to handle, but doling out these steaming pockets of pure ecstasy made you everybody’s best mate for that one glorious day. The power of pies!
So for this instalment we decided to try some thing new and do a food and booze pairing. As I am pretty much a retard when it comes to wine, and honestly I’d much rather smash back a pint than a pinot, we thought we would do a beer match for this dish. As it is no secret that beer is pretty much my favourite thing on this little spinning ball of dirt, I thought what better to accompany this than one of my other great loves, pies. For our beer we have chosen a tasty wee drop that I am particularly partial to, the Little Creatures Pilsner. Being quite a light refreshing brew I elected to go with a chicken and leek number suspended in a decadent creamy sauce. So we trotted off to our trusty markets to procure ingredients and of course some liquid inspiration, and after about the 5th glass of inspiration, (believe it our not some of the beer did escape my thirsty maw and actually made it into the recipe) we got down to the serious business of pies.
Chicken, Leek and Pilsner Pie
- 450g chicken thigh deboned and cut into 2cm dice
- 130g leek roughly chopped
- 150g swiss brown button mushrooms cut into 1/4s
- 20g garlic peeled and chopped
- 4g thyme
- 200g carrot peeled and chopped
- 200g onion peeled and chopped
- 250ml of Little Creatures Pilsner
- 250ml cooking cream
- 1 tsp whole grain mustard
- 1 Tblsp of Worcestershire sauce
- two sheets of puff pastry
Preheat your oven to 180ºc. Spry your pie dish with cooking spray or rub butter around the inside of the dish. Place your pie dish on top of the sheet of puff pastry (I thought about including a puff pastry recipe but quite frankly fuck that! Are you really going to take the time to make it? I don’t!) cut a ring around the dish and place the resulting pastry disk (or square) in the bottom of the dish. Next cut a long strip of pastry and use it to line the sides of the pie dish. Push the pastry together where the bottom meets the sides to create a seal. Next line the pie casing with baking paper and fill it to the top with rice or lentils. Bake the casing for 20-30 mins. This is called blind baking. It insures that the pie casing is crispy even when filled with deliciously sloppy fillings! You can reserve the rice or lentils for another blind bake later rather than just throwing them out.
While your casing bakes, heat a slug of oil in a large pot and sear off the chicken until golden brown. Remove the chicken and add your carrot and onion and cook until they are soft but not coloured. Add the mushrooms, leeks garlic and thyme along with a hearty knob of butter (butter is a leeks best friend) and cook for another 4 minutes stirring regularly to avoid colouring or burning your veggies. Next add your beer. I know it is hard to just pour it out when every ounce of your being is telling you to put it in your mouth but trust me, its for the good of the pie that we make this sacrifice. Bring the pot to the boil to cook out the alcohol and then add your cream, mustard, worcestershire and bring to the boil once again. Continue to boil the pot until the cream has reduced and has become thick and shiny (about 10 minutes should do the trick).
Season well with salt and pepper. By this time the pie casing should be ready to go and we should be about 4 bottles of pilsner down and getting a healthy glow on! Pour as much of the filling into the casing as you can fit. Next place the remaining sheet of puff pastry over the top of the pie and fold the edges over the side of the pie dish. Run a knife along the sides to trim off any excess pastry which should be reserved for making decorations (depending on how pissed you are at this point). Use a fork to crimp the edge of the pie top onto the blind baked casing. Using a skewer of a knife poke some holes on the pie top to allow steam to escape, as funny as it would be, an exploding pie isn’t that great to eat. Make any kind of lame decorations you want on top of your pie out of the pastry trimmings. Next beat an egg until it is smooth and using a pastry brush, glaze the top of your pie. This is called an egg wash and will insure that your pie, no matter what crap you saw fit to adorn the top of your creation with, will come out of the oven golden and crispy (even if the rest of looks like it was made by a down syndrome chimpanzee with hammers instead of hands). Place your pie into the oven and cook until the top is all golden and puffy, around 30-40 minutes.
By this time you have no doubt smashed all your beers and are mighty hungry. So eat your pie and spare a thought for all the pie monitors out there helping to make that nightmarish ordeal we so casually label “primary education” a little more bearable, one meat sack at a time.
This post is part of the Our Growing Edge monthly link up party we were invited to. It is designed to encourage bloggers to try new things. This month it is hosted by Jordan and Cindy from My daughter and I. Thanks for inviting us guys!
Check out the other pie matched to the Little Creatures Pilsner, Renee G’s Chicken and Brussel sprouts pie.