2-8th March is British Pie Week, and we British love a good pie don't we? What's better than meat, veg and a sauce encased in layers of buttery pastry? Nothing I tell you, nothing. Especially if it's my friend Emily's chicken pie, the recipe to which she's taking to the grave apparently, damn her. Maybe she'll end up in pie heaven with Jack Handy, he of the not so famous quote: “When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not, mmmmmmmm, boy." Okaaaaaay.
Here are a few pie facts and a recipe for all you pie-lovers out there.
Pie – noun, a savoury or sweet dish, usually cooked in a container, consisting of a quantity of food with a covering/or base of pastry.
It is believed that the humble pie dates back to the Egyptian period of around 2000 B.C. The Egyptians passed the goodness and knowledge of pie onto the Greeks between 1400 B.C. and 600 B.C. sometime during the decline of Egypt and the Greek settlements. From Greece the pie spread to Rome in around 100 B.C. The first known pie recipe came from the Romans and was for a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie.
Pies appeared in England in the 12th century and were predominantly meat pies – a tradition that remains today! The crust of the pie was referred to as the “coffyn" and there was generally more crust than filling (which is why the perfect pastry is so important!)
Over 4,000 years on, today the pie remains the most popular pastry in Britain with 57% of us choosing to eat it over any other pastry dish^.
Scrummy Scrumpy Chicken Pie Serves 12
* 12 x Jus-Rol™ ready Rolled Puff Pastry 6" rounds – thawed * 1.1kg Leeks, halved lengthways and sliced * 1.5kg Chicken Breast meat -cubed * 750ml Scrumpy Cider or your favourite local cider * 675g Bramley Cooking Apples - peeled and diced * 150g Butter * Few sprigs of Thyme * Salt and pepper to season * Beaten egg to glaze
1. Sauté prepared leeks in butter until just tender. Remove with slotted spoon.
2. Add chicken to pan and seal on all sides. Add cider and half the thyme to pan, bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in prepared apples and cooked leeks, season with salt and pepper, then leave to cool.
3. Preheat oven to 220ºC (200º for fan assisted ovens)/425ºF/ Gas Mark 7
4. Divide cooled filling between 12 individual pie dishes.
5. Brush rims of dishes with beaten egg then top each dish with a pastry round, pressing down sides to seal. Brush with beaten egg then sprinkle with remaining thyme.
6. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes or until the pastry has risen and is golden brown.