Sunday, 21 November 2010

Chicken Pie with Posh Peas and Carrots

As someone passionate about all things Wigan, I do love a good pie! I especially like creamy chickeny ones and so was excited to try this recipe, another of Jamie’s 30 minute-ers! So, I set myself up in the kitchen and had a lovely Sunday afternoon, plonked in front of the night before’s X Factor, chopping and mixing away. It was really simple to cook as you just make the filling and wack the puff pastry on top. The timing for the other components was also quite easy to do; you just have to keep checking the pie as it can start to catch and burn quite quickly.

For the pie:Photobucket
4x180g skinless chicken breasts
Knob of butter
Bunch of spring onions
150g button mushrooms
1 heaped tbsp plain flour, extra to dust
2 tbsp mustard
1 heaped tbsp crème fraiche
300ml chicken stock
Few sprigs thyme
Nutmeg for grating
1 sheet prerolled puff pastry
1 egg

For carrots:
600g carrots
Few sprigs thyme

For peas:
2 little gem lettuces
Knob of butter
1 tbsp flour
300ml chicken stock
Few springs fresh mint
480g frozen peas
Half a lemon

To start: Get all your ingredients and equipment ready. Turn the oven on to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Fill and boil the kettle. Put a large wide pan on a medium heat and a large saucepan with a lid on a low heat. Put the thick slicer disc attachment into the food processor.

Chicken pie: Put the chicken breasts on a plastic board and slice into 1cm strips. Put a lug of olive oil and a knob of butter into the hot, large, wide pan.Photobucket Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes or so. Meanwhile, quickly trim the spring onions and wash the mushrooms, then slice together in the food processor. Add to the pan with 1 heaped tablespoon of flour and stir. Add 2 teaspoons of mustard, 1 heaped tablespoon of crème fraîche and 300ml of chicken stock and stir well. Pick the thyme leaves and stir into the pan with a few fine gratings of nutmeg and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Leave to simmer.

Smash: Trim the carrots, then quickly slice in the food processor. Add to the saucepan with a lug of extra virgin olive oil, a good pinch of salt & pepper and a few thyme tips. Just cover with boiled water, then cover with a lid and turn the heat to high. Cook for 15 minutes, or until tender.

Chicken pie: Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and unroll the sheet of puff pastry. Use a
small knife to lightly crisscross and score it. Take the pan of chicken off the heat. Tip the filling into an ovenproof baking dish slightly smaller than the sheet of pastry (approx. 30 x 25cm). Cover the filling with the pastry sheet, tucking it in at the edges (like in the picture). Quickly beat the egg, then brush it over the top of the pie. Put into the oven and cook on the top shelf for around 15 minutes, or until golden and gorgeous. Fill and reboil the kettle.

Peas: Return the empty chicken pan to a high heat. Quickly wash the lettuces then slice them in the food processor. Add a knob of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour to the pan, then pour in 300ml of chicken stock, tear in the mint leaves and use a balloon whisk to mix to a smooth and bubbling sauce. Add the peas and sliced lettuce. Squeeze over the juice of ½ a lemon, pour in a splash of boiled water, season with salt and pepper, stir, then put the lid on.

Smash: Check the carrots are cooked through, then drain and return to the pan. Taste, correct the seasoning and leave as they are or smash up. Take to the table.

To serve: Take the peas to the table, then get the pie out of the oven and tuck in!Photobucket

This was such an enjoyable meal to cook and eat. The pie looked great and the ‘posh peas and carrots’ worked really well. I love all the little extras like herbs and seasoning, they give this simple food an interesting kick. It did take quite a bit longer than 30 mins I’m afraid Jamie, probably a good hour and a half in total.
I’ve also bought the book since cooking this meal, which is written in a lovely way, with tonnes of amazing photos. I’d definitely recommend it; the recipes all look so exciting, I can’t wait to try them.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Cauliflower Macaroni

Jamie Oliver is one of my favourite TV Chefs and I love his style of cooking (bar the ridiculous amounts of olive oil he drenches everything in!) so I have been lovvvvvving his new programme; Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. He cooks several components to a meal in real time, giving lots of hints and shortcuts but without compromising on taste. I decided to give this recipe a go as I love cauliflower cheese and this seemed like an easy twist on that. I have added my own notes and alterations in bold.

Ingredients (Serves 6):
8 rashers of pancetta (I couldn’t find any and so used bacon lardons instead. I chopped them up, fried them and added them to the food processor with the breadcrumbs)
1 large head of cauliflower (This definitely needs more cauliflower for flavour, I’d say 2 heads would be better)
500g dried macaroni
250g mature Cheddar cheese
4 thick slices of country bread
Few sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 cloves of garlic
1 x 250g tub of crème fraîche
Parmesan cheese, to serve

1)      To start: Get all your ingredients and equipment ready. Fill and boil the kettle. Turn the oven on to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7. Put the coarse grater attachment into the food processor.
2)     Lay the pancetta in a roasting tray (approx. 30 x 25cm, or large enough to bake the pasta in) and put on the top shelf of the oven. Get rid of any tatty outer leaves from the cauliflower, then trim off the tough base of the stalk and quarter the head. Put in a large saucepan, core down, with the pasta, on a high heat. Cover with boiling water, filling and reboiling the kettle if necessary. Season with a good pinch of salt, drizzle over a little olive oil, then stir and cook according to packet instructions, with the lid askew.
3)     PhotobucketGrate the Cheddar in the food processor and tip into a bowl. Fit the standard blade attachment, then get your pancetta out of the oven and blitz in the processor with the bread, rosemary leaves and a good drizzle of olive oil until you have a coarse breadcrumb consistency.
4)     Put a colander over a large bowl to catch the pasta water, then drain the pasta and cauliflower. Tip into the roasting tray you cooked your pancetta in, and put over a low heatPhotobucket (I put it in the pasta pan at this point rather than the roasting tray, then transferred it into the tray for when I put it in the oven to cook the topping). Add 400ml of the reserved pasta water from the bowl (I used about 200ml as 400 would have made it far too watery). Crush in the 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic and mix in the crème fraîche and grated Cheddar, gently breaking up the cauliflower with tongs or a potato masher. Have a taste and correct the seasoning. It should be nice and loose; if not, add another splash of the pasta water.
5)     Spread out evenly and scatter over the breadcrumbs. Put on the top shelf of the oven for about 8 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.
6)     To serve: When the cauliflower macaroni is golden and bubbling, take it to the table and shave over some Parmesan.

Recipe taken from Jamie's 30 Minute Meals... by Jamie Oliver ©Jamie Oliver 2010. All rights reserved
Buy the book online
This recipe got a mixed reaction from the family, with some saying it was a bit bland. I think this is due to the lack of cauliflower, and some members getting more than others in their portions. I thought it was nice and garlicky and the topping was lovely with the bacon adding a nice kick to the meal. It was dead easy to make and actually didn’t take too much longer than 30mins. With a few alterations such as more cauliflower, and maybe a serving of peas (that may just be me, I love peas with everything) this meal could be much improved.