Spurred on by the abundance of seasonal vegetables on offer at the local farmers’ market, all rationale departs as I find myself optimistically buying up enough vegetables to set up shop. Arriving home with heavily stacked boxes of seasonal produce makes you feel like you’ve landed the loot! However, after surveying the profusion of wintery vegetables piled high on the kitchen table, the reality of my irresponsible over-gathering dawns on me, as too, the realisation that now I have to do something constructive with my purchases. No problem I think, I’ll go the soup route…..
On offer we have beets, kale, spinach, pumpkins, parsnips and the rest of the cabbage patch kids. And leeks – plenty of them! So far I’ve notched up several dishes with this versatile vegetable. Monday’s Pear, brie and leek soup put paid to some, but didn’t create much of a dent. Moving on, I made a vat, not a pot, a vat of butternut, orange, ginger and leek soup (post to follow shortly). Moving swiftly along, I’m into the pie section of the marathon. My husband, who’s originally from Liverpool, is a pie man. Waite, that sounds a bit derogatory. Darren loves a good pie, pork pies to be exact. I will however leave this iconic British classic to Paul Hollywood, but I’m happy to suggest these Chicken pot pies with leeks and bacon.
I’ve made the pies as individual servings which eliminates the unavoidable argument of who deserves the last piece of pie. Topped with golden, puffed pastry tops, this is all you need for a homely dinner, served with a side of roast vegetables (helpful once again in diminishing the vege-stash), or with a fresh green salad. The flavours are classic – bacon, chicken, leeks and potatoes! What’s not to love? If you’re pushed for time, prepare the filling the day before and pop the pastry lids on when you’re ready to bake the pies. These chicken pies are a fuss-free way to feed a crowd, in which case I’d make double and bake in two large ovenproof dishes. That’s it for now. I’m off to deliberate what to do with the remaining vegetable patch in the kitchen.
PS. Just popping back in from the kitchen to mention that I’ve thrown some leeks into a large pot of simmering homemade chicken stock. It seems there are a limitless amount of uses for these seasonal, pale-faced leeks!
Chicken pot pies with leeks and bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
125g smoked back bacon, cut into lardons
2 leeks, chopped into rounds
zest and juice of half a lemon
2 stems lemon thyme or regular thyme
4 free range chicken fillets, cut into strips or cubes
2 waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup crème fraîche
40og puff pastry
egg wash, made up of 1 egg and 2 tablespoons water, whisked together
Preheat the oven to 200º C. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the bacon until nicely browned. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel. Add the butter to the same pan and sauté the leeks with the lemon zest and thyme for several minutes until the leeks are softened. Move the leeks to the side of the pan and add the chicken pieces. Season and brown on both side for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes to the pan and stir through.
Sprinkle the flour over the chicken pieces and stir to coat. Deglaze the pan with the wine, followed by the chicken stock. Bring the sauce up to the boil, add the bacon back into the pan. Stir through the crème fraîche, place the lid on and simmer for approximately 25 minutes until the sauce is thickened and the potatoes are fork tender.
Divide the filling into individual ovenproof bowls and allow to cool slightly. On a well floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to a 3mm thickness. Cut into squares slightly larger than the pie dishes. Place the pastry lids over the rims and press down lightly. Pierce the top of the pastry with a sharp knife to create steam holes, brush with egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes until puffed and golden.