My Dad is notorious for calling me on a Thursday night, at around 6pm, on his drive home from work.
I know it is him as soon as the phone rings, and I also know what our conversation is going to be about: Nigel Barden’s latest recipe.
Mr Barden has a weekly slot on Simon Mayo’s BBC Radio 2 show where he showcases a dish. I must admit that I have never listened to him on the show, but from what I understand he brings the dish with him and they eat it, discuss the ingredients and method etc.
I really should listen on iPlayer as my Dad raves about him. Fortunately the recipes are then posted on the show’s webpage, so that they can be recreated by listeners.
So, the pie.
This is the one recipe that my Dad has talked about most for months and months. Funnily enough, when we recently visited him I checked what was in his fridge (as daughters do) and found all the necessary ingredients for the pie all on one shelf. Subtle huh?!
Pastry is not my favourite thing to make but fortunately my Dad anticipated this and bought some ready made.
I know it can be simple, especially with a mixer, but I tend not to use mine and have too little patience (and time, especially now) to make it by hand.
Having said that, I’m happy to make sweet pastry following a lovely course I went on for my birthday. More about that another day…
For my first attempt at the pie, I followed the recipe to the letter (bar the pastry), however since then I have made several modifications depending on what I have in the fridge.
As such, I would say that what follows is my adaptation of Nigel Barden’s recipe, which in turn appears to be based on Tamasin Day-Lewis’ recipe.
Chicken and Vegetable pie
Served 5 greedy people
4 chicken breasts or 8 chicken thighs (I prefer using the thighs)
2 carrots – sliced
Bunch of herbs – sage, thyme, rosemary all work well
1 Courgette, chopped
2 leeks, chopped – I used the greens in the cooking liquid with the chicken
4 bacon rashers or a handful of lardons
55g plain flour
150ml stock – chicken or vegetable
150ml double cream
Small bunch of herbs – chopped
Pastry – enough to cover large dish (I am lucky enough to have a mother-in-law who will make it for me)
1 egg, beaten
Large ovenproof dish (or several small ovenproof dishes)
Preheat your oven to 180degC
Place chicken, carrots and herbs in a large saucepan. Season with black pepper.
Cover with water and simmer over a moderate heat for at least 30 minutes, or until chicken is tender.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon/lardons until cooked and set aside. If using bacon, once cooled chop into smaller pieces.
Reserving the bacon fat, in the same frying pan fry the leeks and courgette until softened, but not too coloured – about 10 minutes on a low to moderate heat.
Alternatively, steam the vegetables.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the water and when cool enough to handle, slice into bite-sized pieces.
Combine the carrots, other vegetables, bacon and chicken in your large ovenproof dish and set aside.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low to moderate heat.
Add the flour and stir to combine. Keep stirring over the heat for a few minutes.
Slowly add the milk and cream (I mixed them together in a jug) and keep stirring the whole time to ensure no lumps.
Then, add the stock and continue stirring until nicely combined.
Season with lots of black pepper (to your taste – my boys like A LOT) and stir in the chopped herbs.
Try not to eat it all.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and mix until everything is evenly coated.
Top with pastry, making a hole for steam to escape, and if you are good glaze with a beaten egg (I rarely do).
Place in the oven and cook for 35 – 45 minutes, depending on the depth of your dish, until pastry is nicely browned.
Obviously you can change the herbs or vegetables to whatever you have at home. I’ve used mushrooms instead of courgettes before too. Let me know what combinations you try!
Oh, and remember to take a photo of the pie once cooked and before it’s all been gobbled up – I always forget..! Photo now added