“Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.” Charles Dickens
Ahhh, welcome spring! Everything outside is a lush, emerald springtime green and golden daffodils are popping up everywhere. Azaleas are just beginning to show hints of pink, violet and white. Soon the huge magnolias will be fragrant in all of their magnificence. It’s an invigorating time to get out and play, walk, hike, do some gardening and even willingly do yard work. Oli has already completed his yard work in Iceland and I will wait until after the weekend April showers to tackle my mine.
Dickens makes a good point about the feel of the season when in the sun and in the shade. As well, the days are warm and sunny, but when the sun goes down, it’s still chilly enough to use up the last of winter’s firewood. Cold April rain, a cozy fire and comfort food sound about right. But what will it be? A bowl of soup just won’t do and a stew seems too rich. Thoughts might turn to mom’s chicken pie, but you yearn for something with a bit more pizzazz.
Oli’s chicken pie to the rescue. It’s a twist on the classic with chunks of tender, moist chicken, nice fresh, good for you veggies like broccoli and leeks zipped up with ginger, chilies and just a hint of curry in the background. Now, marry them all under a golden buttery crisp crust. Yes! Definitely not the frozen pot pie you grew up with.
We think it’s time to enjoy the April showers and toss the last logs into the fireplace. While the pie is in the oven, pour a refreshing white and make a nice little salad. Then settle in, listen to the rain and think of the May flowers that follow April showers.
Cheesy Chicken Pie
Make the Dough (Pâte brisée)
7 ounces all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick) cut into small cubes
4 tablespoons cold water
- Place flour, salt and butter into the bowl of a food processor and process until powdered, about 10 seconds.
- Add water and process until a dough ball is formed.
3. Dump the dough onto a clean work surface and knead for a minute until smooth and firm. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour before using.
Make the Filling
Since the amount of curry in the filling is minimal, just about any cheese will work here. Why not try feta or a sharp blue. Got some small chunks of various cheeses in the the fridge? Go for it.
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tights, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2-3 red chilies, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
5 ounces broccoli tops
1 cup leek, white part only, halved then thinly sliced
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup grated cheese
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk or cream
Make the Pie
Preheat oven to 400F
1. Melt half of the butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Remove skillet from heat and reserve.
2. Melt remaining butter in a large pot over high heat. Toss in onions and cook while stirring until golden. Stir in ginger, garlic, chile and curry. Cook and stir for about 30 seconds then stir in flour.
3. Pour in cream and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cook and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes. Salt to taste.
4. Remove pot from heat and add broccoli, leek, cilantro, parsley and reserved chicken. Stir until nicely combined. At last stir in grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
5. Grease a 9 x 9 x 2-inch ovenproof dish and pour in chicken mixture.
6. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out until big enough to flop over the sides of the dish. Place on top of chicken mixture and press the sides down into the filling. (You will still have dough hanging over the edges of the dish.)
7. Cut off the hanging edges with a knife. Cut a cross shaped steam vent in the middle of the pie.
8. Pinch the edges of the dough to make a decorative seal.
9. Make the egg wash by beating 1 egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of milk or cream, then brush it over the pie crust.
You can get creative and use the leftover dough to make a decoration to place on top of the crust then brush it with egg wash too.
10. Refrigerate pie for 1 hour (Cover with foil if you are preparing a day ahead of baking, but don’t keep it in the fridge longer than that.)
11. Before baking, brush again with egg wash.
12. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.