Chicken N Leek Pie

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Baked a chicken last week and had lots of leftover white meat. I saw this recipe in Good Taste magazine and liked the way they overlap the excess pie crust over the top of the pie. I prefer short crust pastry to puff pastry because there's so much less pastry to eat. Also, I learnt pastry making from a local baker years ago and ever since then I avoid commercial pastries. The reason is they use pastry margarine, which is a creamy-colored solid margarine that doesn't melt even in tropical 33 degrees heat so that the dough is never sticky or hard to handle. I figured that to get it to that stage the margarine must've been hydrogenated to the max. And that was before transfat was an issue. Just imagine pastry margarine as a piece of solid cholesterol plaque that sticks to the walls of your arteries. And you wouldn't believe the tons of pastry margarine used to make puff pastry. So please, indulge in that croissant only once in a green moon.

The Good Taste pastry only needs an easy whiz in the food processor but I think because the butter is melted and our humidity level is high, the pastry didn't stay crisp. I have instead changed the recipe by using cold butter, but you can always use your preferred pastry recipe. You can also make the pastry more 'short' by increasing the butter and reducing the milk, if you are extremely underweight/well-insured/have an optimistic personality.

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Chicken N Leek Pie

4 cups cooked chicken meat, in short shreds
1 large stalk leek, sliced thinly (about 2 cups packed loosely)
1/2 cup thickened/double dairy cream
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 T plain flour
40g butter
1/2 t salt (omit if chicken is salted)
1/4 t white pepper
1/2 T oil
1 t tarragon or rosemary or thyme or sage or marjoram*

The Pastry
2 cups plain flour, sifted
100g cold unsalted butter, in small cubes
1/2 cup low-fat or whole milk
1/4 t salt 1 egg yolk for glazing

* the original recipe uses tarragon but do use an herb you like.

1. In a small pot, add 1/2 T of oil or butter and fry the leeks for 5 minutes or until soft. Remove leeks to a bowl. Melt the butter in the same pot over low heat and add the flour, stirring well (the mixture will bubble and then thicken; make sure do not brown) for about 3 to 4 minutes and switch off heat. Using a small whisk, slowly whisk in the stock, then the cream and milk, the chicken, leeks and finally the seasoning (taste and adjust). Let filling cool completely.

2.Add salt to the flour in a mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until mixture is crumbly. Add the milk and gather the dough, kneading a couple of times until it comes together. Cover and let it chill in fridge about 20 minutes.

3. Switch oven to 200 C.

4. Get hold of a 22 cm springform pan. Divide the dough into three portions. Put two portions together and knead two or three times, then roll out into a large circle (27 to 28 cm) of 4 mm thickness on a lightly floured surface. Roll another circle of about 18 to 19 cm (I've decided to give metric measurements only; it's high time Americans catch up with the rest of the world), cutting out a bit of pastry to make a couple of leaves. Line the pan with the larger circle of pastry, letting the sides overhang. Trim or press the overhanging edges so that the overhang (about 3 cm) is the same width all around. Spoon the filling into the pie, place the smaller circle of pastry over the chicken filling and fold the overhanging pie pastry of the larger circle over the top. Cut 3 to 4 small slits on the pie top with sharp scissors, decorate with the pastry leaves and brush a beaten egg yolk all over the top.

5. Bake in lower oven for 30 minutes until pastry is golden brown.