- 2 x chicken (about 500g) — thighs or breasts, please don’t make a joke about what kind of man you are
- 300g of assorted mushrooms — any of the ones that make kids go “ew!” taste best
- 1 medium leek
- 3 white potatoes
- 2 carrots
- Frozen peas and corn
- About 1tbsp of thyme (just the leaves)
- About ¼ cup of plain flour
- A couple of cloves of garlic (crush it)
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- ½ cup cheap white wine
- ⅓ cup thickened cream
- Puff pastry sheets (this is not a health pie)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 egg (for brushing)
What to do
Thinly slice the white parts of the leek. Feel momentarily guilty about chucking the rest in the bin. In a heavy-bottomed pan on a low heat, melt ½ tablespoon of butter and ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Pop in the leek and cook until it’s soft and shiny (about five minutes).
Remove the leek from the pan and set aside, leaving the remaining butter behind.
Dice your chicken. Your cats will definitely come and harass you for the gross sinewy bits. Give into them or they will eat your body when you die. Put the chicken, flour and some ground black pepper in a freezer bag and kind of massage it in an uncomfortable way until all the chicken is coated with flour.
Turn up the heat (if you haven’t already with the breast massage, ha ha!). Put the chicken in the pan. Cook until lightly browned (five minutes?). The bottom of the pan will be coated in a lovely layer of flour — that’s how we make gravy. Remove the chicken and set aside.
Feel cross about the number of plates you’ve already used and you’re only ten minutes in.
Pour the wine into your throat. Just kidding! Put it in the pan. It will hiss and steam and bubble. With a spoon or spatula, scrape all the floury bits off the bottom. This is called ‘deglazing’.
Chop and add your mushrooms to the pan. Let them cook down for a bit (another five minutes). Add your leek, chicken, thyme and garlic and give it a really good coat of that wine flour. God, it smells incredible. You’re brilliant. Your kids will tell their friends about you tomorrow.
Dice your potatoes and carrots into 1cm-ish cubes, pop them in. Again, stir to coat. Add other veggies if you like, I’m not the police.
Pour in your stock. Make sure the ingredients are just about underwater. Too much and you’ll have soup; too little and you’ll have a hungry family that hates you for once again failing to provide for them, is it really that hard, what else are you even doing all day except your job and breaking up fights and laundry cycles to the end of time?
Take a minute to sigh really loudly about everything.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the whole mixture to a gentle boil. You need to cook those potatoes and carrots until they’re soft, so it needs to be hottish. When it’s boiling, reduce to a medium heat and put on a lid. Leave it to cook for about 20 minutes.
Remove the lid, shout about why everyone’s music has to be up so fucking loud, and leave to simmer uncovered on low-medium for a further 10 minutes. This is when the sauce magic happens. It should reduce by about a quarter. Add the cream and frozen veg and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Let the mixture cool. If you don’t have time because Sam has swimming lessons and you promised you’d buy something for the class party and no one else is capable of taking the dog for a walk, that’s okay. You’re doing your best.
Take out five sheets of pastry and let them soften, like your love life after 35. Cut them into four equal squares: one square for the case, and one for the top. You can use shortcrust pastry for the case if you like, but fair warning, it will mean you get to eat less puff pastry.
This is the kind of tray I use:
Push the pastry into each pan to make the case. Take a big spoonful of mixture and pop it in. You can blind bake them first, if you like. Put another layer of pastry over the top and make just the most god-awful attempt at crimping anyone’s ever seen. Beat the egg and brush the mixture on top of each pie. I added some sesame seeds as self-care.
Cut a wee hole in the top so the steam can get out.
(a wee hole)
Shout: “Hey Google! Set a timer for 25 minutes!” While you wait, think about how you’re going to juggle the Christmas holidays and why do the kids get 13 weeks off when you only get 4 weeks of annual leave and is it any wonder we’re in a recession?
Take the pies out of the oven. Carefully pop them out of their loose-bottomed trays and don’t make a joke about that. Serve with salad. Afterwards, throw the salad in the bin because it’s easier than having a fight about the kids not eating it.
Save one pie for yourself for tomorrow. Eat it in silence. There you go. You’re back.