Well, I think it is fair to say that we are elbow deep in silly season. There are orders coming out our ears, I've put off making my great grandma's christmas cake at least four times because I'm scared of the recipe (it bakes for SIX HOURS), and I have a list a mile long of things I want to do before Christmas. I will admit that it doesn't feel very festive around our apartment - we aren't getting a christmas tree this year. As much as I would love to, our current foster cat Winnie doesn't have the best track record with leaving the plants alone, so I have a feeling that a tree would result in far too many ingested pine needles on her part. Not a fun time.
The best part about Silly Season though, is all of the comfort food. I'm still getting used to it not being boiling hot over xmas like it is back in NZ (and continuously in a state of denial that a cold Christmas is FINE and I'm not at ALL homesick), but am taking every chance I can get to make us cozy meals to take the edge off a little.
This is one of my absolute faves, and for Rich is a total taste of home. The recipe for this comes from a laminated piece of paper they have in their kitchen at home - I think it might be from his sister's cooking class when she was at school or something along those lines. Regardless, it's an epic recipe. It's a flavourful veggie-chicken-bacon-sauce situation, covered with a lid of flaky pastry. I made my own for this pie because I had some in the fridge, but store bought works just as well and is equally as delicious, and much easier. There's a little chopping and cooking and mixing to do to prepare the base but it's totally worth it. I've also made this a couple of times after thanksgiving, adding turkey and stuffing, and it is next level. This is what comfy and cosy is meant to taste like.
A few wee tips:
I made this with home made pastry, but 500g of ready made puff pastry, thawed, works perfectly in it's place!
I pulled my best Julie Jones with the lattice - it was easier than I thought! I just latticed on a piece of parchment, then popped it in the freezer for a little bit to firm up. I then used a round tin the same diameter as my dish, and cut out a circle, which I slid onto the top of the pie. It was super effective and there were no edges to fiddle round with
A plain lid of pastry works just as well here! You do you.
I often make this earlier in the day, and keep it in the fridge until I'm ready to bake it for dinner. That way you can just throw it in the oven when you need! Make sure to adjust the cooking time slightly if you are cooking it from cold.
I use two pans to make this - one for the bacon and chicken and one for the veggies. It makes it much easier but you can do things in batches if you just want to use the one frying pan!
- Serves 4-5 people -
2 1/2 cups (310g) Flour
Pinch of Salt
2 sticks (226g) cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup (240ml) cold water
1 cup ice
1/4 cup (60ml) Apple cider vinegar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
One medium onion, finely diced
3 ribs of celery, finely sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
Salt and pepper to season
100g bacon, de-rinded and roughly chopped
750g skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into small cubes.
3 Tbsp Flour
1 1/4 cup (315ml) chicken stock
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp dried Thyme
1 Recipe Pie dough, alternatively 500g puff pastry, thawed
Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
- PROCESS -
Place flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut butter into chunks, and add to the flour. Toss lightly to coat. Working quickly, using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are only pea-sized chunks left. You want a few lumps of butter remaining to keep the pastry nice and tender.
Combine ice, water and cider vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, and using a stiff spatula or your hands, mix in well. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time ( I normally need about 8-10 tbsp) until you have a dough that holds together well, but is not too wet. Squeeze together with your fingertips to make a homogenous dough. Shape into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight.
FILLING AND ASSEMBLY
Preheat the oven to 400˚f / 200˚c. Prepare a dish with a 6 cup capacity (I used a 9 inch diameter casserole dish, but a rectangle shape would work well too)
Melt 2 Tbsp of the butter in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot. Cook gently, stirring often, partially covered, until tender, approximately 20 minutes. Season well with Salt and Pepper. Remove from the heat while the chicken and bacon is finishing.
After the vegetables have been cooking for 10 minutes, heat a second frying pan over high heat. Add 2 Tbsp of butter, then add the chopped bacon and chicken. Cook until the chicken is golden brown, and cooked through.
Return the pan of vegetables to low heat, and add the flour and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir well, then add the stock, cream and thyme, and stir until well combined. Fold through the cooked chicken and bacon and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and turn the filling into a dish with a 6 cup capacity.
Remove the pie dough from the fridge. Roll out until it is approximately 1/8" (3mm) in thickness. Cut a thick strip (as shown in photos) and use to place around the edge of the dish to help seal. Brush the strip lightly with egg wash. Cut the remaining dough into strips, and decorate the top with desired lattice. Alternatively leave the piece of dough whole, and make a plain 'lid' for your pie - be sure to cut a small vent to allow steam to escape.
Brush the top of the pie all over with egg wash. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Allow to stand 10 mins before serving.