By Elizabeth Pratt
I love to make these homemade pies. It’s a very simple recipe which produces multiple meals and can be altered with your choice of either a white or gravy sauce. You can also freeze the pies for a convenient meal that can be bunged in the oven at a later date.
Serves: 4 or 5
Special Requirements: 4 or 5 Ramekin dishes (optional), a rolling pin and a tube of pre-made shortcrust pastry (this can be found in the cold section of your nearest shop).
Filling Ingredients: A pack of 3 chicken breasts, a pack of chestnut mushrooms and 2 large onions.
White Sauce Ingredients: Milk, butter, flour, rosemary, and salt and pepper to season.
Gravy Sauce Ingredients: Chicken stock and water.
- Preheat the oven to 180°c and then prepare the Ramekin dishes (or whatever dish(es) you’ve chosen to use) for filling, by rolling out the pastry on a floured chopping board – the counters in halls are manky – and cut out lids for your dishes, big enough so there’s an inch excess on the edge.
If you’ve decided to make this recipe in a single dish, just ensure you’ve rolled out the pastry so there’s an inch of excess on every side. The pastry shouldn’t be any thicker than a pound coin.
- Next, dice your mushroom and onions, and add them to a heated pan. Make sure you’ve chosen a sizeable pan as you will be using this same pan for the chicken. Sautee your vegetables at medium heat, adding a teaspoon of butter, and some salt and pepper for seasoning as you wish. Once the onion is soft and the mushrooms brown, put them in a dish to the side, ready to be added evenly to your dish(es) with the chicken.
- Add the chicken to the still warm pan. If needed, add another teaspoon of butter to keep the pan greased, alongside a small handful of rosemary. Cover with a lid and turn the chicken when the bottom is golden brown. Do not remove from the heat until both sides are cooked through and similarly coloured.
- Leave the chicken to cool, and make a start on your sauce.
- To make the white sauce, you make a simple roux by adding two teaspoons of butter to a pan. Once melted, stir in a tablespoon of flour until you’ve made a paste. Add milk until the paste is submerged and stir steadily, adding more milk until smooth, ensuring nothing gets stuck to the bottom of the pan. Your sauce is done once it sticks to the back of a spoon. Add salt and pepper until seasoned as desired.
- To make a gravy sauce, take your chicken stock and water and (duh) make gravy. Sift in flour until the sauce thickens, stirring vigorously to prevent lumps. Your gravy is at the ideal consistency once it sticks to the back of a spoon.
- Now that the chicken has cooled, dice it and mix with the mushrooms and onions until evenly dispersed. Once the filling is assembled, divide it evenly between your dishes. Pour your choice of sauce over the top until just the top of your filling can be seen through the mixture.
- Pop on your pastry lid(s) and press the edges around the lip of your dish(es) down with your thumb. To ensure an even colour while baking, brush milk over the top of your pastry – you don’t need to get fancy about this, dipping your (clean) fingers in a small dish of milk and rubbing it across your pastry will do the job.
Put your pie(s) in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
Once cooled, you can bag your pie(s) up in a freezer bag and put it (dish and all) in your freezer for another night. So really, as long as you’re super keen on pies, you’ve cooked dinner for the entire week.