This is a great recipe to try Filo Pastry if you are unfamiliar with it. You can find it in most chiller cabinets and it’s much lighter than puff pastry, but you can substitute puff or shortcrust pastry if you prefer. The pie is packed full of vegetables and will definitely help you reach your 5 a day! Best of all you can substitute chicken thighs for chicken breasts and vary the selection of vegetables. E.g. sweetcorn, carrots, onions etc. You can even substitute half the stock for white wine or cider if you have a drop lingering somewhere! (Not sure this ever happens in my house!).
1 Large knob of butter
2 large leeks, washed and sliced
200g chestnut mushrooms, wiped and quartered
4 x boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (or 6 boneless chicken thighs)
250ml chicken stock
1 Tablespoon cornflour
100ml half fat crème fresh
2-heaped teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chopped tarragon, thyme or sage. (A good teaspoon of dried herbs is fine)
3 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
2 large handfuls of frozen peas
Salt and pepper
1 packet of filo pastry or 250g puff or shortcrust pastry
50mls Olive oil (placed in a mug with a pastry brush)
- Pre heat your oven to 180c or Gas Mark 5. Remove the filo pastry from the cardboard packaging but leave in the clear wrapping to prevent it becoming dry and brittle.
- Melt the butter in a large fry pan or deep casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and fry them really well until they are golden in colour. Then add chopped leeks. Sweat until they are soft.
- Add the chicken pieces and fry for about 5 minutes to get some colour on them (the chicken won’t be cooked at this stage). Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
- In a small cup, blend the cornflour with 2 tablespoons of cold water to make a smooth paste.
- Remove the pan from the heat, add the flour paste to the pan and stir until blended. Add the crème fresh and mustard then season with salt and pepper. Return to the heat and stir until the sauce thickens.
- Add the spinach, frozen peas and herbs. As soon as the spinach has wilted, tip the whole mixture into a pie dish about 28cm/15cm. Allow to cool a little.
- The secret to working with filo pastry is to prevent it drying out. (If this occurs it becomes brittle and unworkable). Therefore, once you’ve unrolled it, cover immediately with some cling film or a clean damp tea towel.
- Remove the cling film or tea towel and brush the top sheet of filo pastry with some olive oil. Tear the sheet in half, scrunch it lightly and place on the filling, place the other half next to it. Repeat this, oiling each sheet, halving it and scrunching it until you have covered the top of the chicken mixture. Use the remaining oil to dab lightly on top of the pastry.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 34 – 45 minutes until the centre is piping hot. However, if the pastry starts to brown too quickly cover loosely with foil, to allow the chicken to finish cooking.
- If you feel you need an accompaniment then serve with salad or seasonal veggies but I think it’s just lovely with a dollop of sweet chilli sauce!
PS. These pies freeze really well. Just make sure that the filling is quite cold before you add the pastry topping of your choice and just make sure that the pastry has not been previously frozen. Remember in order to freeze something you have to change its state.