Tuesday, 11 October 2016

RECIPE: Left-Over Chicken Pie

We're constantly reminded to reduce our food waste, for the sake of our own purses and for the sake of the environment, and left overs are often a problem. When you've had a roast chicken, there's often meat left on the carcase, so you stick it in the fridge thinking it will get used in a sandwich, and the next thing you know it's gone dry and slightly smelly and is totally unappetising. Such a pity - a waste of meat, a waste of money, and I also feel that when an animal has been raised from birth to death solely in order for you to be fed, the least you can do to thank it is to make the most of it and enjoy every mouthful.

So, sermon over, here's an idea for using that left over chicken. It needs to go in the fridge as soon as possible once you've used what you are eating for your roast dinner - and if you have any gravy left, hang on to that too, you can add it to the stock you make with the picked over carcase.

Pick off all the chicken meat from the carcase and cut it into bite sized chunks - don't forget to turn it over and pick out the succulent "oysters" from beside the backbone. As you go along, chuck all the bones, skin and cartilage into a large saucepan to make stock. (For this, you can add the leftover gravy and whatever else you have around. I generally add an onion and a carrot, wiped and roughly chopped but not peeled, a stick of celery or some leaves from a celery plant in the garden, bayleaf, parsley and thyme, whatever you have around, peppercorns, cloves and a blade of mace. Cover  with water, simmer for 2 hours then strain, chill, skim and store in the fridge or freezer in suitable sized containers.)

Now, back to the pie. As well as your chicken, you will need mushrooms or leeks, puff pastry, milk, butter, flour and beaten egg. For two servings I used

A small cereal bowl full of cooked chicken
125g (approx.) sliced mushrooms
300ml milk
a knob of butter (about 30g)
a rounded tablespoon of plain flour
just over half a sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
half a beaten egg

Pre heat the oven to 220C (200 fan), 425 F, Gas mark 7
Unroll your pastry sheet (or roll out block pastry) and use the top of the pie dish to measure a piece for your lid, cutting it slightly larger than the dish. Pop the pastry in the fridge to cool while you make the filling. Grease the pie dish, including the rim.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the sliced mushrooms (or leeks) until softened. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour then blend in the milk, then return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until boiling and thickened. Mix in the chicken, season and turn into the pie dish.
Cut a slit or cross in the centre of the pastry lid and place over the pie (ceramic bird optional but pretty) then crimp the edges and brush all over with beaten egg.
Place in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes, until the pastry is risen and golden and the filling piping hot all the way through.

Now, as you are using reheated meat, here are some notes about food handling that really apply to anything re-heated
  • You should never reheat meat more than once, so don't make more than you will eat at one sitting.
  • For the same reason, don't prepare the filling in advance - the pie needs to go into the oven very soon once the chicken has been mixed into the sauce, and not stand around with the chicken keeping warm.
  • Use a ceramic or ovenproof glass dish, not a metal one, so the sauce doesn't burn on the outside of the dish, but choose a fairly shallow one so that the heat penetrates right through to the middle of the dish.
I know that a top-only pie is technically not a true pie, but it's easy and delicious and a meal we always look forward to. And you are guaranteed never to end up with the dreaded Soggy Bottom!

And finally, in case you are wondering about this leaving me with half an egg and half a pack of puff pastry, they went into the Bonfire Night Snacks that I posted about yesterday, so not a scrap was wasted.

I am sharing this with Kitchen Clearout at Madhouse Family Reviews


Cheryl Pasquier said...

Beautiful - and frugal - maybe we could coin a new word, beautifrugal ! This is my go-to meal idea every Monday when I have lots of leftovers from Sunday lunch - or I do the same, add some curry powder and tomatoes and leave off the lid for a quick curry. Thanks for linking up :)

Galina Varese said...

I typically use the carcass for the soup, either with curry powder or Chinese-style. Your pie looks delicious, and a great use of leftovers too