Monday, May 4, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 1: A Chicken in Every Pot

Welcome to the first edition of my Traditional British Food Project! Last night, I made my version of a BBC Good Food recipe, Chicken, Leek & Parsley Pie. I got to use my basic math skills when converting metric units to English units. I really don't like the metric system. It lacks the romance of the English system. I think that tablespoons and cups are friendlier than milliliters, which always sound so sterile. Anyway, here's my version of the recipe:

Chicken, Leek, and Parsley Pie

4 cups cooked chicken*, chopped into bite-sized pieces or pulled apart by hand (my preferred method)
2 cups chicken stock (you really should use homemade if at all possible, see how here)
3 1/2 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
2 leeks (of average size)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (also average size)
2 cups (lightly packed) flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup crema mexicana (closest thing to creme fraiche in Wichita)
1/2 pound puff pastry (thawed, but cold)
Milk or beaten egg or egg white (to glaze crust)

Pan with a 4-cup capacity, such as a 9-inch pie plate, a Le Creuset oval gratin 28, a 9-inch round cake pan, or an 8x4-inch loaf pan

  1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Halve and thinly slice white and light-green part of leeks. Soak in a large bowl to remove silt.
  3. Roughly chop parsley and zest lemon. Set aside.
  4. Place chicken in the bottom of your pan.
  5. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add drained leeks and cook until softened (about 5 minutes). Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Then, gradually stir in the stock and cook until the sauce bubbles and thickens.
  6. Remove saucepan from the heat and stir in lemon, parsley, and crema. Season to taste with salt and pepper then pour over the chicken and set pie dish aside.
  7. Roll out the puff pastry until it is approximately 1 inch larger all around than the top of the pie dish. Moisten the rim of the dish with water, place the pastry on the dish and use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to trim the overhanging pastry to 1 inch all around. Turn the edges under then seal with the tines of a fork. Any leftover pastry can be used for decoration.
  8. Brush the pastry with the milk or egg wash and bake on a baking sheet (to catch bubblings over and make it easier to remove from the oven) in the center of the oven for about 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden.
(Serves 4)

*Cooked chicken can be left over from a roast or from making stock with a whole chicken (as opposed to just bones and leftover bits). To make stock with an entire bird:
  1. Put an entire 3 to 5-pound chicken in a large stockpot or dutch oven.
  2. Add a peeled and roughly chopped carrot, a roughly chopped celery stalk, and a peeled and quartered onion.
  3. Add enough water to cover the chicken by half an inch.
  4. Add 1 bay leaf, a handful of peppercorns, and thyme sprigs or dried thyme.
  5. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Check the heat every once in a while.
  6. Strain the stock into a mixing bowl (discarding the solid parts). Cover and cool overnight. In the morning, you can skim off the fat (which will now have solidified) and store the stock in the refrigerator. I like to use quart-sized mason jars.
  7. Cool the chicken overnight and then remove the meat and store in the refrigerator.
In other news, we've had one strawberry from our hanging basket reach maturity thus far. It was red all the way through and juicy and a bit tart. We'll have to see how the other ones turn out. (The demitasse cup and saucer are part of a set I found at A Legacy Antiques on Douglas.)

In other antique dish news, I found a set of nine of these (for $8.25) at an estate sale this weekend:
That's all for now. Until next time!

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