Made with a meat substitute, these creamy individual chicken and leek pies are housed in a hot water crust pastry shell making them a lot quicker and easier to prepare.
Savoury pies are perfect comfort food, being ideal for those early spring days when the weather is still a little chilly. Mr E and I really enjoy generous deep filled pies served with new potatoes and a mixture of vegetables.
For a while now I've been meaning to make a vegetarian version of chicken and leek pie. As I used a quorn substitute no chicken came near these individual pies. I find Quorn really versatile for this type of bake, allowing me to rustle up things like Vegetarian Pork Pies and a GBBO inspired Game Pie. The quorn pieces were partially cooked in a frying pan until slightly golden before being sliced into bite sized chunks and mixed with the cooked leeks and white sauce. The white sauce was incredibly tasty, besides being seasoned with salt and pepper I added a generous amount of garlic puree which really added an extra dimension to the pie's flavour. These little individual pies would freeze really well too, allowing you to potentially make a extra and freeze the surplus in an air tight container ready for another meal time.
Usually chicken and leek pie is made from a puff pastry, but being a little short of time and inclination for all of that rolling, folding and chilling Mr E and I decided to make a hot water crust pastry to house our creamy chicken and leek filling. The nature of hot water crust pastry means that no blind baking is required, and a soggy bottom is never an issue! The pastry is straightforward to make and is easily shaped to the sides of a tin. It is also ideal for the those who steer clear of pastry making because of naturally warm hands. It really is a winning pastry. The only drawback, though, with this type of pastry is that it needs to be worked with promptly to ensure that the pies are shaped before the pastry firms up and becomes less pliable.
Hot water crust pastry is usually made with a mixture of butter and lard (or even 100% lard), however living in a vegetarian home this product is clearly off the shopping list and menu. In previous hot water crust bakes I've substituted the lard with Trex which worked well, but as that product contains palm oil we decided to use an alternative this time. The obvious choice was butter. The butter worked well, allowing the pastry to come together before being shaped in the same manner. Mr E felt that this version was tastier too, which is certainly no bad thing.
Now I must say, when I removed the vegetarian chicken and leek pies from the oven my heart sank a little as the pie crusts had cracked a tad. Not being aesthetically perfect I considered not photographing them, but Mr E reminded me that these are real pies and this is the type of thing which can, and does, happen to the home baker. This bake may not be aesthetically perfect, but it is really tasty being packed full of faux chicken and sauteed leeks all smothered in a subtly garlicy white sauce.
So let's get to it and bake!
Vegetarian Chicken & leek Pie. Yum
Yield: 3 individual pies
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Time: about 45 minutes hands on; about 40 minutes bake time.
You will need:2 x Small Pans
1 x Frying Pan
2 x Mixing Bowls
3 x Dariole Moulds (ours hold 6 floz / 160ml)
Baking Tray (large enough to hold the dariole moulds)
Cup / Glass / spare Dariole Mould with the same diameter as those used for the pies
Paring Knife, or similar
For the Hot Water Crust Pastry112g Plain Flour,
22g Strong White Flour, plus extra for rolling
30g + 30g Chilled Butter
65ml Boiling Water
1 beaten Egg or Milk to glaze
For the White Sauce Filling and Filling35g Butter
35g Plain Flour
120g prepared Leeks, washed, trimmed, halved & sliced (approx 1 large leek)
3 Quorn Chicken Fillets (I ussed these frozen quorn fillets)
How to make them:1. Make the White Sauce. Place 35g of butter in small pan and set over a medium heat to melt. Tip in the flour. Use the wooden spoon to stir the flour into the melted butter to make a thick smooth paste. Slowly add the milk to the paste, stirring all of the time allowing the milk to fully combine with the paste before adding more. Once all of the milk has been incorporated allow the sauce to cook for a few minutes on a low heat, stirring all of the time. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper to taste and stir again. Add a teaspoon of garlic puree and stir again. Taste adding a little more garlic and seasoning if desired. Take off the hob heat and set aside to cool.
2. Cook the leeks. Place a tablespoon of oil into a frying pan and set over a medium heat. Add the prepared leeks and cook gently until they have softened, though are not coloured. This may take around 5 - 8 minutes. Move the leeks around the pan periodically. Once cooked tip the leeks into a bowl to cool.
3. Cook the 'chicken' pieces. Wipe clean the frying pan. Add a tablespoon of oil to the frying pan and set over a moderate heat. Add the three quorn chicken fillets and allow to partially cook until lightly golden for around 6-8 minutes, turning them over half way through. The 'chicken' pieces will finish cooking in the oven once the pie is assembled. Remove the fillets from the frying pan and place onto a plate. Use a knife to cut them into bite sized chunks. Set aside to cool.
4. Combine the filling. Stir the cooled white sauce until smooth again. Place the cooked leeks and prepared vegetarian 'chicken' pieces into a good sized bowl. Pour over the white sauce and mix until well distributed.
5. Make the pastry. Place the two flours, salt, 30g chilled butter into a medium bowl. Use a knife to cube the butter into small pieces. Gently rub the butter between your thumbs and finger tips until the flour and butter resembles fine breadcrumbs. Place 30g butter into the small pan and add the boiling water. Set over a low heat to allow the butter to melt . Make a well in the centre of the breadcrumbs and add most of the fatty hot water. Stir with a knife to bring together, adding more of the liquid as necessary to make a dough which is soft and pliable but not sticky.
6. Line the dariole moulds. Place the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 4 equal pieces (3 for the pie's sides and the fourth for their lids). Cover them with cling film. Partially roll one of the pastry pieces into a circle. Lift it and place into the dariole mould. Use your thumbs to shape the pastry into the dariole mould, bringing the pastry just beyond the rim. Try not to make the pastry too thin. Should a hole develop simply patch it with some excess pastry. Repeat with the other 2 dariole moulds.
7. Fill the pies. Use a teaspoon to fill the pastry cases with the chicken and leek mixture. Be generous, bringing it almost to the top of the pie case.
8. Cover with the pastry lids. Roll out the remaining piece of pastry. Use the cup / glass as a stencil to cut around to make 3 pastry discs. Carefully lift a pastry disc and place on top of a pie. Use a paring knife, or similar, to trim off any excess pastry. Use your two index fingers and thumb to crimp the edge of the pastry to seal. Use a paring knife to cut an air hole in the pastry lid. Repeat with the remaining two pies. Place into the fridge until you're ready to cook them.
9. Preheat the oven to 210c / 190 Fan / Gas 7
10. Bake. Paint a little beaten egg or milk to the crust, the egg will give it a more golden colour once baked. Place the pies onto a baking tray and sit them in the centre of the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes. You may need to rotate them after 30 minutes of cooking. Once golden and cooked through remove them from the oven, gently tip the pies from the dariole moulds. Serve as desired.
Notes:a) Allow the filling to completely cool before making the pastry.
b) Work swiftly (but safely) when making and working with the pastry.
c) Allow the butter to melt slowly in the hot water, boiling it will reduce the volume of liquid and potentially result in there being insufficient liquid to make the pastry.
d) Avoid getting egg wash onto the side of the dariole mould as this will act as a glue resulting in the pie sticking to the mould.
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