Neil Perry’s Chicken and Leek Pie

Serves: 4 – 6

I have written many times about my love of pies.

Though I have never typed up a chicken pie. Not because I haven’t cooked them and don’t necessarily love the very best of them: though I have never cooked one of the very best of them.

Until now.

Weeks into Sydney’s lockdown and it’s Father’s Day and knowing that both my father and my father-in-law love a pie as much as I do, I had to do a compassionate food run.

I needed a down-the-line, bloody good chicken pie.

Something that was honest and simple. To be served with a mash* and peas.

A celebration.

This is just that pie. Thanks Neil Perry as usual.

You can’t go wrong with leek slowly cooked in butter, though it is the thinly sliced chicken breast that wins here.

And smoked bacon.

Line your pie dish with pastry and then cover all with pastry and make it even more svelte.

It’s simple and that’s the point.

Happy Father’s Day.

(I have slightly adapted the recipe.)

Ingredients

30gm butter
2 small leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
6 rashers smoked bacon, chopped
3 chicken breast fillets, cut into thin strips
300ml cream
2 egg yolks
Salt and pepper
Sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten, for glazing

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium-low heat and cook the leeks until very sold and lightly golden, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until lightly browned, remove and set aside. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly browned, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  3. Wipe out the pan with paper towels. Return the leeks, bacon and chicken to the pan. Add the combined cream and yolks, stir over a low heat for 2 minutes and then season with salt and pepper, to taste, Transfer to a bowl to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 210C. And make a pie. You known how to do this right? Egg wash, prick the pastry to allow the steam to escape and bake for 30 minutes until the top is puffed and golden brown.
  5. Happy Father’s Day ladies. And gents.

* Use a ricer, plenty of butter and milk, well seasoned: and then add a finely chopped golden shallot.

Gary Rhodes’ Puff Pastry Scrambled Eggs and Leeks with Ham Crème Fraîche

Serves: 4

Many years ago – like 25 – my mother and I would watch Gary Rhodes and his British cooking show.

Rhodes, Gary (crop).jpg
A wonderful guy, a brilliant chef.

He was not only an incredibly talented chef, though came across as a lovely, calm and collected guy.

Sadly, he died prematurely in 2019 though I remember the tributes at the time from people such as Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. One quote from the time from Michelin star chef Tom Kerridge described Rhodes as “one of the greatest British chefs who almost single handedly put British food on the world stage”.

My goodness.

All those years ago, my mother bought his two books and we cooked a number of his dishes. Just wonderful, wonderful French cooking.

Twently years later, I am telling Nat about Mr Rhodes and the wonderful books I used to cook from, long out of print of course.

Unbenowst to me, Nat tracks them down in a second hand book store (this is the sort of person Nat is!) and we are back in business.

Five weeks into lockdown in Sydney, Nat and I agreed we needed a break. Home schooling, work, renovating an apartment for sale, endless activities to entertain the kids, endless loops around the park to keep sane, we needed some time for ourselves.

So we took Wednesday off. I lit the outdoor firepit and put the Champagne on ice.

And served this decadent dish as the first course.

My lordy it is fine. Absolute dinner party material.

I said to Nat it reminded me of the food I ate in Chartres (France) many years back. Delicate, so tasty, so bloody good.

Update from my mother. This is me on the far right in Chartres. Haven’t changed a bit.

To say that we had the best afternoon since lockdown would be an understatement. And I can assure you that this starter (along with a cold Champagne) was a strong contributing reason for it!

Ingredients

225gm puff pastry
Flour for dusting
50gm butter plus two large knobs for cooking
5 eggs
1 large or 2 small leeks
3 or 4 thick slices of leg ham
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
6 tbsp vegetable stock
3 tbsp crème fraîche
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Champagne for serving!

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Cut 2 10cm x 10cm squares of puff pastry and then cut them diagonally in half to make four triangles. Beat one of the eggs and use to brush the pastries, and bake in the over for 20 – 25 minutes until risen and golden brown. Remove the tray from the oven and set the pastries to one side.
  3. Split the leeks in half lengthways, removing the outer layer. Finely slice the halves, washing off any grit in a colander. Leave the leek slices to drain.
  4. To make the ham crème fraîche, cut the ham into a 5mm dice and set aside. Heat the white wine vinegar in a saucepan. Once almost all evaporated, add the stock and simmer until reduced by a third. Whisk in the crème fraîch, followed by the measured butter. Season.
  5. Cut through the pastries, separated the risen lid from the base. Keep the pastry tops and bases warm.
  6. Melt a knob of butter in a large saucepan and once bubbling, add the leeks. Cook on a medium heat, stirring from time to time to ensure an even cooking, for 5 – 7 minutes, until very tender.
  7. Whilst the leeks are cooking, add the remaining eggs to the one used as an egg wash, beating with a fork to emulsify. In another saucepan, melt the remaining knob of butter and once bubbling, add the eggs. Season. As they cook, turn the eggs with a spoon reasonably vigorously, capturing every corner of the pan. When they have reached a very soft, scrambled consistency, remove the pan from the heat. This leaves you with just a minute to ‘build’ the rest of the dish while the scrambled egg thickens.
  8. Add the ham to the sauce, warming it through. Place the pastry bases on warm plates and spoon the cooked leeks loosely on top of each. Turn the scrambled eggs just once more, then spoon on top of the leeks and drizzle the ham crème fraîche around and over. Finish by placing the pastry lids on top.

Pork and Leek Sausages

Pork and Leek Sausages

Makes: 20 sausages

There certainly are a lot of corners to the Internet and sausagemaking.org is definitely one of them.

A very friendly, passionate one.

The forums aren’t updated particularly regularly, though enough that when I visit there are new recipes. And when one is added, there is plenty of advice.

Like the use of rusk in sausages. Where apparently, all pros use it.

Not as a wartime filler, though as a necessary accompaniment to any good sausage. Moisture retention and all that. You can buy rusk from the supermarket in biscuit form and food process it to dust.

Experience has also told me that pork sausages made from pork shoulder alone are not moist enough and you must add fat. 20% of the meat weight: so 1kg pork shoulder, 200gm pork fat which any good butcher can provide. (Or cut it from a pork belly.)

Adding rusk and the fat to these sausages was the revelation.

We are officially butchers.

And wow, aren’t these pork and leek sausages a great way to reach that distinction.

Ingredients

1kg pork shoulder
200gm pork fat
200gm leek
125ml water
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sage (dried)
1/2 tsp ginger (we used fresh, though powdered is fine of course)

Method

  1. Cut the pork and pork fat into 3cm pieces.
  2. Cut the leek into 1cm cylinders and slowly cook in olive oil and some salt until soft.
  3. Combine the ingredients, mince and stuff into sausage casings.