While I sit here writing this post I am reliving the moment when I took my first mouthful of this hearty, delectable pie. It is a little hard to type in a trance like state though, so I have shaken myself (rather vigorously) out of the dream, just long enough to get this down on computer screen. Think tender chunks of chicken thigh fillet paired with smokey bacon and earthy mushrooms. Laced with garlic, herbs and white wine and topped with a creamy but deliciously light potato & cauli mash and a final smattering of grilled tasty cheese. Comfort food at its absolute finest.
Prep time: 30 Minutes Cooking time: 50 Minutes $$ Medium Budget
Olive oil for frying
20gm of butter
8 chicken thigh fillets, trimmed of fat and cut into bite sized pieces
1 leek, halved and sliced (white part only and rinsed thoroughly)
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
12 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stalk discarded
6 short rindless bacon rashers, thinly sliced
1 punnet of swiss brown mushrooms, quartered
1 heaped tbs of plain flour
1 cup of dry white wine
11/2 cups of chicken stock
Extra water, if needed
2 tbs of chopped fresh Italian parsley
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 cup of grated tasty cheese
For the Cauli Mash:
4 small-medium cream delight potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
400gm of cauliflower, cut into rough chunks
40gm of butter
A sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg (a pinch of ground is fine)
1/2 cup of milk
Sea salt and pepper
Heat a large frypan and add the bacon. Fry until crispy and remove from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, add a little oil and fry the chicken in batches until golden. Remove and set aside. Don’t clean the pan!! All of the little golden bits of goodness on the bottom are flavour and will lift when you deglaze with the wine.
Add a little more oil and the butter to the pan and fry the leek until it is just starting to soften and then add the garlic and thyme leaves. Fry for a minute or so and then pop the mushrooms in and the chicken and bacon back to the pan, juices and all. Season with salt and pepper and fry for another couple of minutes before sprinkling over the flour. Stir well, scraping the base of the pan for a minute so, so that the flour cooks before pouring in the white wine and stock (this will ensure a lump free sauce). Stir well and quite rigorously to make sure that the flour breaks down and the sauce starts to thicken. Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the sauce to bubble away, thicken and reduce, stirring occasionally. Just before placing the mixture in a pie dish or dishes, stir through the chopped parsley.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Place the potatoes in a large pot of cold salted water and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes and then pop the cauliflower in and boil for a further 10 minutes until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender and easily pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes thoroughly and place on a low heat. Mash well with a potato masher until smooth and add the butter, milk, nutmeg and season well with salt and pepper. Whip the potato and cauli mixture with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.
The chicken mixture should be nice and thick by now so divide the mixture between four individual deep pie dishes or one large one. Spoon the mashed cauli on top and spread gently with the back of a fork, right to the edges. Sprinkle over the grated cheese and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve with steamed greens or a green salad.
You can make these pies ahead and cook them in the oven later. Just pop them in a 160°C oven for about 40-45 minutes to ensure that the pies are heated all the way through.