Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Chicken and Leek Pie
Back when I first moved to this hectic city of ours, I lived in a little alcove studio apartment on the second floor of a building on Greenwich Avenue. I was working at ELLE magazine as a fashion assistant then, working ridiculously long hours, making a pittance, and living off of cocktails, cigarettes, and occasional indulgences at a little fish and chips shop called A Salt & Battery that was just up the street from me. (I've since dispensed of the nasty cigarette habit. For the most part.)
What I didn't know then was that the little tea shop next door to A Salt & Battery, called Tea & Sympathy, was serving up the best, most comforting English home cooking this side of the pond. I never ventured in. Not once. Oh, the regret. I went with friends for the first time last week, and with one bite of their transcendent beef stew, I was a believer. So much so, in fact, that as soon as the meal was over, I ran right next door to their little store and bought a copy of the cookbook. And here is the first result: a rich, creamy chicken and leek pie. It's one of the most popular items on the menu, and no wonder: it comes out of the oven steaming hot and full of tender chicken drowning in a tasty sauce spotted with buttery leeks. Perfect for a cold winter Sunday. Invite a couple of friends over and slice up the pie to share like I did--it will do wonders for whatever ails you. xo
Chicken and Leek Pie
Adapted from Tea & Sympathy, by Anita Naughton and Nicola Perry
To prepare the chicken for the filling:
4 large chicken breasts
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
Salt & pepper
For the filling:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 cups of the reserved chicken stock
1 1/4 cups milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Salt & pepper
4 large leeks, washed thoroughly and chopped
Chicken, cooked as below
For the mashed potatoes:
3 lbs potatoes, peeled (Idaho potatoes are ideal)
1 stick butter
Salt and pepper to taste
To prepare the chicken: Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover the contents of the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the chicken is cooked. Remove the pan from the heat, strain, and reserve the stock. Discard the vegetables. Let the chicken cool a little, then chop it and place it in a deep pie dish to one side.
While the chicken is boiling, prepare the mashed potatoes: Coarsely chop the potatoes and boil in lightly salted water for 20-25 minutes, until soft. Drain them well and then mash the potatoes with a fork, stir in the butter, and add the milk little by little until you reach your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 3/4 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Over medium heat, gradually add the chicken stock, then slowly add the milk and heavy cream and stir until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a separate saucepan, saute the leeks in 4 tablespoons of butter until they are nice and soft, then add them to the chicken. When the sauce is cooked pour it over the chicken and leeks and stir to combine. Cover the dish with a thick, even layer of the mashed potatoes and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown.