Nothing beats a proper pie. Whether savoury or sweet, for a crowd or just for one, there’s something irresistible about breaking through that golden pastry crust and tucking into the succulent filling inside.
First, you’ll learn about basic equipment, pastry-making techniques, and tips on latticework for a show-stopping pie topper—mastering your skills before creating your perfect pie. Then, in Everyday Pies, you’ll find wholesome recipes you can share any day of the week. Next, in Posh Pies, you’ll discover more elegant dishes that are sure to impress your dinner guests, before turning to Portable Pies, perfect for a picnic basket.
Finally, delve into Sweet Pies where you’ll be tempted with all the sticky-sweet fillings fit for a cozy dessert. Guaranteed to eat each dish with a smile on your face, there are over 50 flavoursome pies that will have you coming back for more. Indulge in favourites such as Chicken Pot Pie or Steak & Kidney Pie. Step up your pie game with something more complex such as Fillet of Beef en Croûte or Roast Smoked Salmon Koulibiaca.
And when you need something sweet, fill your home with the smell of Deep-Dish Toffee Apple Pie or Lattice-Topped Cherry Pie. For every taste and every occasion, there is a glorious pie to please.
Chicken Pot Pie
Ever since my mother received the legendary American cookery book The Joy of Cooking from my Canadian aunt to go with her brand new enormous Moffat cooker in the 1960s, we have had Chicken Pot Pie for Christmas Eve supper. It was always in front of the fire with the angel chimes lit for the first time. It was a magical start to the celebrations. Mum used a biscuit or scone topping (there are two versions of this pie!) and the filling was a velouté sauce enriched with cream and had whatever vegetables were in season or available. We sometimes had canned tuna in it instead of chicken. My version of it is designed to be quick comfort food, so if the crème fraîche doesn’t appeal, replace with a white sauce or whatever you prefer.
55 g/4 tablespoons butter
1 large leek, trimmed and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
450 g/1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed
about 8 leaves of fresh tarragon, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
150 g/generous 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
250 ml/1 cup crème fraîche or double/heavy cream
1 quantity Rough Puff Pastry (see below)
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten with a pinch of salt, to glaze
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 x 250-ml/1-cup ovenproof dishes
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the leek and carrots. Cook for about 10 minutes or until they are both soft and cooked through. Add the chicken, stir well and cook for about 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the tarragon and parsley, followed by the peas and crème fraîche. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and set aside.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut four round discs at least 2.5 cm/1 inch wider than the diameter of your ovenproof dishes.
Spoon the chicken filling evenly into the dishes, brush the edges of the dishes with a little beaten egg yolk and top each with a pastry round. Press the pastry firmly down onto the edges of the dishes
to seal. You may like to crimp or fork the edges, but keep it fairly casual. (There’s need for a hole in the lid of these – the puff pastry wants to rise up into a dome.) Brush with beaten egg yolk and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.
Remove the pies from the fridge, brush with more beaten egg yolk (thinned down with a little water or milk if necessary) to build up a nice glaze, then set them on a large baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the pastry tops are puffed and golden brown and the pies are bubbling hot inside.
ROUGH PUFF PASTRY
This is the quick way to make a good puff pastry. Needless to say, you must work very quickly, and it takes a little practice. Rolling and folding the pastry dough creates layers of pastry and pockets of butter. The cooked pastry will be buttery, puffy and light if made well, and incomparable to store-bought puff pastry. Make a large quantity at one time and freeze the remainder – it is easier to make in bulk and you will always have some on hand! A dash of lemon juice is sometimes added to strengthen the layers of dough.
250 g/2 cups plain/ all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
150 g/10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
about 150 ml/2⁄3 cup ice-cold water
MAKES ABOUT 550 G/11⁄4 LBS. (ENOUGH TO LINE OR MAKE A 30-CM/ 12-INCH PIE PLATE OR BASE)
Sift the flour and salt together into a large mixing bowl.
Quickly cut the butter into small cubes, about the size of the top of your little finger.
Stir the butter into the flour with a round-bladed knife so that it is evenly distributed (1).
Drizzle the water over the surface, then mix with the knife until the dough starts to come together in a messy lump.
Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until it forms a streaky, rather lumpy ball. Flatten the ball with the palm of your hand and wrap in clingfilm/plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes until firm.
Unwrap the chilled pastry and, on a lightly floured surface. roll out away from you into a long rectangle, three times longer than it is wide (no exact measurements needed here, but it should be about 1 cm/½ inch thick). Mark the pastry lightly into 3 equal sections with a blunt knife. Now fold the third closest to you up over the middle third. Brush off any excess flour with a dry pastry brush, then bring the top third over towards you to cover the folded two thirds.
Give the pastry a quarter turn anti-clockwise so that it looks like a closed book. Seal the edges lightly with a rolling pin to stop them sliding out of shape. Now roll out, always away from you in one direction, until it is the same-sized rectangle as before. Fold in the bottom and top thirds in the same way as before, wrap in clingfilm/plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes Do this rolling and folding four more times, then the pastry is ready to use in the recipe.
Excerpted from Pies Glorious Pies by Maxine Clark (Ryland Peters and Small). Copyright © 2020. Photographs by Steve Painter.