The best thing about it getting dark at 4pm is that it gives you a very good excuse to cosy up at home on the weekends and do some slow cooking. Pie has got to be one of the most comforting foods around, and the best thing about this pie is that you're likely to have most of the ingredients to hand (and if you don't, you can probably make do without them).
I adapted this recipe from two chicken pie recipes, which is most unusual for me. Those who know me well will know that I normally follow recipes to a T (much to the frustration of the girls I flatted with at uni, who almost died of starvation when I insisted that the bolognaise sauce had to simmer for 40 minutes). This doesn't mean I'm a good cook, on the contrary it means I don't totally trust my instincts in the kitchen yet. I'm getting there though (slowly).
There are a few steps to making this pie, but all of them are simple, even the topping. The trickiest thing (for me, anyway) is getting the amount of water needed to form a dough for the topping right. My dough normally ends up very wet. Just add very small amounts of water at a time and you'll be fine. The recipe is very forgiving anyway, so don't worry too much.
Chock-full of veggies (and butter), this is one tasty pie.
Chicken Pie (serves 4)
Adapted from Destitute Gourmet and The Complete Book of Modern Classics
400g sweet potato, chopped finely
1 medium leek (350g), sliced
1-2 carrots, chopped finely
50g mushrooms. sliced
400g chicken breasts or thighs, chopped coarsely (thighs are probably tastier)
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons plain flour
450ml chicken stock (approx)
3/4 cup self-raising flour
pinch of mixed herbs
cold water to mix
1. Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan-forced.
2. Melt 20g butter in large frying pan; cook sweet potato, leek, carrots and mushrooms over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender. Transfer to casserole dish.
3. Cook chicken and garlic in same pan until browned and almost cooked. Add to sweet potato mixture.
4. Melt remaining butter in small saucepan (I use the same pan), add flour; cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles. Gradually stir in stock, bring to a boil; simmer, stirring, until thickened.
5. Add sauce to chicken mixture.
To make the topping:
1. Put the flour, herbs and butter in food processor and process in small bursts until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
2. Add enough cold water to form a dough.
3. Knead lightly on a floured bench, then roll to fit the top of the casserole dish.
4. Gently lay the dough over the top of the chicken mixture and score a diagonal pattern across the dough with a knife.
5. Bake for 25 mins or until risen and golden.