Once the Christmas decorations are packed away (see my article on inventive ways to beat the post-Christmas slump) and you look to the New Year ahead, many of us may be considering ways to recoup the Christmas debt by cutting back on spending.
One of the major problems the Westernised world faces today is waste. We often consume and dispose of food beyond our needs. This year, join the environmental plight to create healthy food for your family that doesn’t cost the earth.
Try this classic recipe to get you started.
Chicken & Vegetable Pie
A great hearty Winter warming dish, this pie is a family favorite and a great way of using leftover meat.
Serves – 4-6
Preparation Time – 1 hour (incl. pastry chilling time)
Cooking Time – 30 minutes
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup prepared chicken stock
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 coarsely chopped onion
- 2 sliced carrots
- 2 sticks celery, sliced
- 500g/1lb cooked chicken, cubed (Use leftover chicken, another meat of your choice or omit for a vegetarian pie)
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 egg, beaten for glazing
- salt & black pepper
- 225g/8oz/2 cups plain flour
- 1.5ml/1/4 tsp salt
- 115g/4oz/1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
- 75g/3oz/1/3 cup lard or vegetable fat
- 60-120ml/4-8 tbsp iced water
For the pastry
1) Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and using a pastry blender or two forks, cut in the utter and lard until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with 6 tbsp of iced water and mix to bind the dough. If the dough is too try and flakes apart, add the remaining water. If the mixture is too moist, add a little flour until you’ve reached the desired consistency. Gather the dough into a ball and cover with greaseproof paper or cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.
For the sauce
2) Preheat the oven to 190 C/375 F/Gas 5. Melt 30ml/2 tbsp of the butter in a heavy pan. Stir in the flour and cook, constantly whisk for about 1 minute; until the mixture bubbles. Over medium heat, stir in the chicken stock and cook over medium heat, whilst continuing to whisk until the mixture comes to the boil. Whisk for a further 2-3 minutes then add the milk and seasoning to taste. Set pan aside.
For the filling
3) Heat the remaining butter in a heavy-based frying pan until it is bubbling. Add the onion, carrots and cook over medium heat, stirring slowly for approx 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and transparent. Add the celery, stirring occasionally for approx 5 minutes. Mix in the chicken, or other cooked meat (omit for vegetarian option) and peas. Combine the mixture with the sauce and stir. Transfer to a 2 litre/4pint ovenproof dish and set aside.
4) Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm/1/8″ thickness. Cut the shape of your ovenproof dish from the pastry allowing a 1″ overlap. Carefully lay the pastry over the filling and using your fingers crimp the overlap edge together to create a decorative border.
5) Cut several vents in the pastry to allow steam to escape and brush with the egg glaze. If desired, cut the remaining pastry trimmings into shapes and arrange in a patterned design on the lid and re-glaze.
6) Bake for 30 minutes until the pie lid is golden brown and serve.