Comical lessons from making chicken pie & french peas a la Jamie Oliver
Happy Sunday, folks… and happy British Pie Week!
What’s your favourite pie? I do like a classic creamy chicken and mushroom beauty, and I’m always down for pumpkin pie. This awesome weeklong celebration has definitely inspired to kick off the experimental kitchenomics. Finally, those recently purchased cookbooks have been opened… and put to use!
LESSON 1: Jamie Oliver’s 30-minute meals actually takes 30 minutes… after 30 minutes of mise en place, that is (45 if you’re as skilled as I am at chopping). If you can flip through his global bestseller and create any of his full meals (ie mains + sides + dessert) in half an hour from start to finish then you’re either a) very organised and have OCD; b) a mutant with three extra arms; or c) actually Jamie Oliver.
LESSON 2: This is what you need for a quick meal of chicken pie and French peas.
4 x 180 chicken breasts. 3 if they’re bigger, because some chicks are blessed with bountiful bosoms.
Ready-rolled puff pastry, a heaped tablespoon of creme fraiche, a knob of butter, two teaspoons of mustard, egg white (to glaze the pastry), thyme (but I didn’t have any so rosemary it is!) and a heaped tablespoon of flour.
For the French peas: 500g frozen peas, a whole baby gem lettuce chopped, a few sprigs of mint, a few stalks of spring onion, a tablespoon of flour, some lemon juice. (The mushrooms in the photo were for the pie but I couldn’t be bothered to un-style them off the wooden board.)
You’ll also need about 600mls of chicken stock: half for the pie, half for the peas.
LESSON 3: Chopping is a good work out – especially if you have a tiny knife.
For your mise en place, chop everything you can chop.
Strip those breasts like you mean it.
Jamie’s recipe calls for button mushrooms but I prefer chestnut ‘shrooms as they’re more flavourful.
Chop up those greens, herbs and all sorts of botanicals – you can essentially add them to the pie too, if you wanted a bit of green.
Chicken pie procedure: Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Brown the chicken in some oil and butter. Add the stock, spring onions, mustard, shrooms, creme fraiche and flour. Season to your liking. Simmer for around three minutes.
I respect all chefs who make their own puff pastry but for newbies like me who do not have a lot of time to waste in the kitchen (otherwise HANGRY!), ready rolled puff pastry it is. Whilst the filling is simmering away, prep your rolled up puff pastry. Go wild with decor. It’s like Play-Doh for foodies.
LESSON 5: Make sure you have the right equipment!
Dish out the chicken filling into an oven dish. Of course, this was the time I realised my oven dish was deeper than what was required. But hey, at least it’s not going to burn in the oven.
(Note to self: buy new kitchenware and all sorts of utensils. Because one of these days, a potato masher might just change your life.)
Cover the filling with your pastry and try to make it as decent as pies can be. You know, like those rolled up crusty ends that makes things look pretty. Brush the top with egg and put in the oven for around 15 minutes.
While waiting for the pie to brown and get crusty, it’s time to make peace with your peas.
LESSON 6: Sometimes, cooking is essentially just throwing everything in
Once the pastry is cooked, your pie is most likely sorted. Leave to rest for a few minutes, or tuck in if you’re super hungry.
LESSON 7: Never waste food.
This is the part where I get all philosophical. I used to hate cooking because cooking for one was a hassle and I ended up throwing away most stuff. The recipe makes up for a pie good enough for 3-4 people to share but it’s something you can keep and heat up in the oven the next day anyway.
I’ve been doing Live Below The Line for the past two years (they’re taking a break this year, though) which made me realise how fortunate most of us are to be able to feed on the best produce available while some people suffer with nothing to eat for days. I may not be able to teleport food in developing countries straight away, but we can start by lessening food waste. Make enough and eat enough and respect the bounty from earth. Don’t waste food and eat your humble pie.
Anyway, making the chicken pie was actually quite easy. Definitely not as easy as Jamie makes it look like, but easy enough for newbie cooks.
Hope you’re all having a great weekend, and hope you all had lovely pies!