My first foray into the world of Evelyn Rose
I was going to write something quite negative about Evelyn’s style of writing, but apparently I could get sued for that kind of thing. Needless to say, it was not an enjoyable experience for me. Her books seem to be a bible for a whole generation, so maybe I shouldn’t s**t all over them. I think ill stick to Claudia Roden...or Nigella.
ANYWAY, this is an excellent way of using up leftover cooked chicken. One of my least favourite things is reheated cooked chicken, served the same way. Of course you cant really beat an overstuffed chicken sandwich or chicken salad, but there is something so nostalgic and comforting about a pie. During the aforementioned trip to Morocco, I phoned home to check in and my mum asked me what I wanted for dinner when I returned home, and this chicken pie is what I requested. I am 25 and as this blog hopefully shows, pretty self-sufficient, but there is still this omnipresent sense of ‘eat bubala’ whenever I come home. And I definitely make the most of it.
When I was little and in the tiny tots service at our synagogue every Saturday, we used to sing ‘david melech yisroel chai chai chicken pie.’ I have no idea why we sung chicken pie instead of vekayam, it doesn’t even rhyme. The song means ‘David king of Israel lives and exists’ somehow in our 2-4 year old minds, chicken pie was an inherent part of remembering this famous king of Israel, known not so much as a philosopher or scholar, but as a musician, lover and fighter; one can only assume that must have enjoyed his food too. And according to legend he was a ginger. If the famous King of Israel could unite the Jewish people, maybe there is more to this chicken pie??
This recipe is adapted from Evelyn Rose’s Complete International Jewish Cookbook. This is not a book I own, but the kind I will need to buy for myself one day. According to my mum she is like the Jewish Delia (boring but essential and foolproof). Well I must be a fool. Reading through the recipe I found it incredibly confusing. It may just be my own snobbery regarding cookbooks from the 70s and 80s, but it is very hard to follow. And of course, back in the day it might have been ok to fry with however many ounces of chicken fat, but its really not now. Also newer cookbooks tend not to refer to the oil/butter/margarine as fat, maybe its just a nation in denial. Sorry folks.
I have to admit that I didn’t actually cook this. It was my intention to, but I have had such a bad cold I thought it probably wasn’t the best idea, I’m sure that our dinner guests were very grateful. I did however observe very closely and was allowed to stir occasionally.
Time: prep 20 mins, cooking 20 mins, ease: 3/5 taste: 5/5 you will need a shallow pie dish, like the size of a large dinner plate.
For the filling -
1 onion, finely diced
Mushrooms, chopped up – about a heaped handful
Handful chopped parsley (I cook a lot with fresh herbs, and try to avoid using dried ones at all costs. The best places to buy them are asda, or from your local greengrocer, you can buy big bunches very cheaply. Parsley freezes very well, just make sure you wash it first).
Heaped tbsp plain flour
200ml stock or chicken gravy equivalent – you can always add more liquid later is it looks a bit too dry. We used the solidified goo left over from roasting the chicken. What’s good is that the fat rises to the top and hardens, and can be scraped off and thrown away. Essentially its like fat-free essence of chicken, and can be frozen! As the chicken in question was cooked in a red, herby sauce, the finished sauce had a lovely reddish colour.
Cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces – approx. ½ a chicken.
For the pastry - (The recipe called for ready-made puff pastry, but the version my mum makes uses the ‘quick flaky pastry’ recipe instead.
82g firm margarine
160g plain flour
50mls boiling water
First make the pastry. Cut the butter into small pieces and put into bowl. Pour over boiling water and stir until the butter is melted and amalgamated – you may need to give it a blast in the microwave. Add the flour, mix into a dough and chill, covered in clingfilm, for at least half an hour. Yes it really is that simple. When the dough is made and covered in the clingfilm, it will feel warm and soft, kind of like a hamster. After it has been in the fridge it will harden up considerably.
Preheat the oven to 230 c.
Fry the onions in cooking oil/olive oil in a large frying pan, and when mostly done (10 mins or so) add the mushrooms. When done add the flour, and stir until all the veggies are coated – don’t worry it will look quite dry.
Add the stock/gravy, bring to the boil, and then simmer for a few minutes until it thickens, stirring all the time. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper – Evelyn also adds in a bit of nutmeg, but this would depend on what kind of flavouring you had already added – some dried sage might be nice too. Turn the heat off and allow to go cold, and empty into the pie dish.
Here is a fantastic tip for rolling pastry – instead of flouring the board and rolling pin (or empty wine
bottle) put the dough between 2 pieces of clingfilm. Incredibly easy, and stops the dough getting too floury. Roll out to cover the dish with a small amount of overhang. Don’t worry about it looking perfect, it should be crinkly and rustic, allowing for little bits of the sauce to bubble up the sides and crisp up. Score some lines into the pasty to allow for the steam to escape, and bake for 20 minutes.