I admit I’ll rarely open a can unless it contains Italian tomatoes, anchovies or dog food – but I succumbed with this recipe, as it looked like a tasty shortcut and I wanted to test out my theory that occasionally it’s OK to cheat using processed ingredients.
Cheating involves using ready made frozen puff pastry and condensed mushroom soup in a can (preferably organic), making this an easy, foolproof pie.
If you want to take the pie to a sublimely luxurious level, add 4-6 tablespoons of duxelles.
Duxelles is an intense, mushroomy reduction where cultivated and wild mushrooms, fresh thyme, *Madeira and shallots are cooked very slowly in butter and olive oil until you have a thick, dark paste.
I make duxelles in large batches about 4 times a year and freeze it in ice cube trays. It’s indispensable for elevating omelets, baked or mashed potatoes, pizza toppings, burgers, steak, pies, dips, pasta, risotto, soups and sauces. For the best result, you’ll need to add dried porcini mushrooms. Dried porcini are available from good supermarkets and Italian deli’s. On the other hand if you’re a forager like me, head into the woods and dry your own.
You can make duxelles without dried porcini. To create the best possible mushroom flavor, use large, open-capped, meaty portabella/field mushrooms. Replace the dried mushroom soaking liquid with a good vegetable broth. It will be very good, just not as intense. A flourish of good truffle oil at the end will enhance it further.
If you can’t be bothered to make a batch of duxelles, this pie is still delicious without it.
*Madeira is inexpensive and available from any decent liquor store/wine shop.
EASY CHICKEN, LEEK & MUSHROOM PIE
1 tablespoon (15ml) of vegetable oil
1 medium sized leek – white and pale green parts only, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 fat clove of garlic, finely minced
14 oz (375g) of boneless, skinless, chicken breast cut into one inch (3cm) chunks
3 tablespoons (45ml) of *Madeira (you can substitute Marsala or a medium sherry)
One 10.5 oz (295g) can of condensed mushroom soup
Optional – 4 rashers of bacon (streaky bacon), chopped – preferably organic and nitrate-free
Optional – 4-6 tablespoons of duxelles
Freshly ground black pepper
Two packs of frozen puff pastry (500g or 17.5 oz each)
1 egg, beaten
Flat leaf parsley for a garnish
Defrost the frozen puff pastry in the fridge.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan and add the chicken, garlic and sliced leek (and diced bacon if using); sauté for 3-4 minutes or until everything is slightly golden. Add the Marsala and cook for 2 more minutes or until the alcohol has evaporated.
Pour in the condensed mushroom soup – stir over the heat for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the optional duxelles, otherwise give everything a good grind of black pepper to taste.
Set the filling aside to cool (you can make it ahead up to this point – keep it covered in the fridge).
When you’re ready to bake the pies, preheat the oven to 425F (220C).
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out into six 6 inch (15 cm) squares. Brush the edges with the beaten egg and pile the cooled chicken mixture into the center of each square.
Gather the pastry corners together and bring to the middle, pinching to seal the edges together. Transfer to a baking sheet and brush each with the remaining egg.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden – garnish with a sprig of parsley.