This recipe came about because I went out to dinner a few weeks ago with colleagues following a regional meeting of EHOs and building Surveyors. This dish was one of the items available on the menu at the restaurant.
I did not order it. My mistake. In one of those moments we encounter now and then, as soon as what I actually had ordered arrived I regretted my decision almost instantly. I had requestedwhat was supposedly the award-winning “best steak sandwich” in Western Australia . (I wondered how the other entries had tasted). I compared what I had with what my chicken pie ordering colleagues had and I concluded I should have ordered what they did. Incidentally I was asked when paying the bill, what was my assessment of the steak sandwich? I gave an honest and thoughtful answer. 6.5 out of ten, because although it was a pleasant enough meal, its flavours had been all of one tone, a kinder way of saying it was bland. The flavour notes of the mayonnaise should have had some piquant counterpoint, some taste such as caper or even chili and onion marmalade to make it memorable. That made me me think of chili onion marmalade and I resolved to make some soon.
The pie was, I am told, particularly delicious. No one offered to let me try a bit. So I set about recreating it for myself.
I quite like the way mine turned out, though my sauce was runnier than I intended. I thought it should be thicker by far. I shall increase the flour in the next attempt. I recommend you do too, but here is the recipe exactly as I made it. Remember to use a bit more flour. Also I will use boneless thigh chicken meat next time. I prefer it in this kind of cooking, and should have used it from the start. But breast was on special at Woolworths.
This chicken leek and feta pie lasted me five meals over four days, though the pastry was eaten after the second. It does not microwave well. The pie contents do though, and grew tastier each day.
Chicken, Leek and Feta Pie
1 kg of chicken breast cut into large bite size pieces. (thighs)
1 good size leek washed and chopped.
2 or three celery sticks, chopped
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon mustard powder and a pinch (no more) of curry powder
a pinch of mixed herbs (or preferably just thyme – I don’t have it on its own)
1/4 cup flour (more) mixed into 1/2 cup water (125ml). Be sure there are no lumps.
2 Chicken bouillion cubes dissolved in 250ml water (or a cup of chicken stock)
200g feta cheese, crumbled
200 mls thickened cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
White pepper to taste – and maybe salt – but as I was using chicken oxo cubes no added salt was needed.
A dash of Angostura Bitters
A squirt of lemon juice
1 sheet of flaky pastry – enough to top a 3 litre dish
1 egg yolk beaten
Brown the chicken pieces in batches in very hot olive oil until they are just about cooked but still plump.
Put the chicken aside and saute the leek, celery and potato in the same pan until the leek is softened. Add the mustard & curry and stir it in.
Then add the stock, the bitters and lemon juice, and continue to simmer until the potato is almost cooked but still a little al dente.
Add the cream and the flour and water and stir so that it makes a thick but fluid sauce. (This is where I went wrong. My sauce became runnier after baking in the oven so make it quite thick).
Add the herbs, chicken and the crumbled feta, mix it in and pour the whole mess into the casserole.
Insert the bay leaf into the mixture. Add pepper.
Wet the lip of the bowl and cover the pie with the pastry, sealing it onto the lip of the bowl.
Brush the top with egg yolk, and sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Pierce the pastry in a couple of places with a knife.
Bake in the oven at the temperature and time recommended on the pastry packet. I cooked it at 180C for 20 minutes and then a final few minutes on 200 because the pastry had not puffed or browned. Still getting used to my new gas oven. I had the same problem with my first batch of bread which ended up being made into breadcrumbs. But I digress.
I wonder how it would come out with a good blue cheese substituting for some of the feta?