I remember the cold winter days in the Free State. Those icy cold mornings at school when it felt like your fingers would fall off. Those days when we searched for that typical winter sun to bake our backs warm during break-time. And, the afternoons we got home to a freshly baked pie. It didn’t happen often, but when it did, the memories stuck.
Okay, so sometimes it was a Mama’s Pie, but there were a couple of times when mom made her own pie crusts, filling the air with that nutty aroma. Then she filled it with chicken and mushrooms – our favourite.
Now, thanks to the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association, I found a recipe which I can use to spoil my kids with in winter too! We might not experience that kind of cold in Pretoria, but we sure enjoy a pot pie!
Chicken & Mushroom Pot Pies
Makes 4 large individual pies
1 small, whole free-range chicken, ± 1kg
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
1 large leek, washed and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried herbs
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
500ml chicken stock
250ml full cream milk
80g fresh or frozen peas (about ½ a cup)
500g mixed cultivated mushrooms, sliced
1 x 400g roll store bought puff pastry
1 large egg, beaten, for egg wash
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
Rub the chicken all over with salt, pepper and olive oil.
Place it in a roasting dish and roast for ± 60 minutes until cooked through.
Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Shred the chicken and discard the skin.
Use the carcass for creating wonderful homemade chicken stock.
Heat butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven or deep sauté pan.
Add the onion, leek and celery and cook until tender.
Add the garlic, dried herbs and fresh thyme.
Cook until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the flour and cook for a minute, coating the vegetables well.
Pour in the chicken stock, stirring quickly as you go to incorporate the flour into the liquid.
Add the milk and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened.
Stir in the peas and the shredded chicken.
Taste to adjust seasoning.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan.
Sauté the mushrooms (in batches if necessary) until golden brown and they have released all of their liquid. Season lightly.
Fold the golden brown mushrooms into the rest of the filling.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
Select four large ramekins, baking dishes or little cast iron mini pots or mini pans.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry slightly and cut out pie lids using the ramekins to measure.
Fill the dishes with the chicken and mushrooms filling.
Top with the puff pastry, press the edges down to seal against the ramekins.
Cut four little slits into each pie crust.
Brush all over with egg wash.
Bake for ± 35 minutes until deeply golden and the puff pastry is cooked through and perfectly crispy.
Serve the pies with a light side salad or some fresh vegetables and enjoy!