There is something very satisfying about baking a pie. My mother used to make the most wonderful apple pie which she dished up with custard, or creme anglaise if we are going to be posh, and it was one of my favourites.
The pie I made today is one I just put together, no recipe etc. First of all make the pastry. I have been asked if I use ready made pastry and the answer is no I don't unless there is a dire emergency. It does not taste the same as freshly made and as I like the feeling of making pastry it never crosses my mind to buy it. Filo - yes I make an exception for that.
For the pastry I took 8oz plain flour and added 6oz of fat. Yes and that is too much I hear you cry but if you want a really short pastry then you need a higher proportion of fats to flour. And I follow my mother's usage of half cooking lard (Cookeen is the brand I use ) and half margarine (I use Stork). Of course if you want to use butter you can but I do find that butter can sometimes make pastry greasy.
So cut the fats into little pieces and drop in the flour and using your fingers mix with the flour until you have a crumbly mixture. I am not too bothered about an odd piece of fat not being totally crumbled. Add cold water, little at a time and I use a knife at first to cut and mix and then when it has some liquid in I use my hands to roll it into a ball which picks up all the dry bits in the bottom of the bowl. Put in clingfilm and bung in fridge. I have made pastry using my food processor but prefer to make it by hand. From beginning to end mixing this pastry took ten minutes so it is hardly time consuming.
Now the filling. Chop up one large leek or two, I am not too sure of the amounts I used. Saute in olive oil and add two slices of bacon chopped (pancetta cubes are best) and two small fillets of chicken breast chopped up. I used a large frying pan with a lid and left them to sweat for about 20 mins. Do NOT season at this stage.
Then make a roux with an ounce of marge/butter in a saucepan, melted, add tablespoonsful or so of plain flour and whisk like mad and then slosh in a bit of milk and whisk again until smooth. I find about quarter of a pint is fine but do add bit by bit as you do not want a runny sauce. Then add 1or 2 oz of grated cheese not too strong, I use a medium chedder and keep stirring until the sauce thickens. Put to one side and cool.
When the sauce has cooled tip in the leeks etc making sure you drain through a sieve as a lot of water will have come out of the leeks sweating, ditto the oil and you do not want this in your sauce. Mix up and at this stage taste it to see if it needs seasoning. This will depend on the saltiness of the bacon you use. Add some salt if you feel necessary.
Then roll out pastry and put on plate. I always use a battered old enamel plate which is about forty years old now, my mum used it and now me, and it transmits heat beautifully. I also put a baking sheet or tin in the oven to heat up so that when you put the pie into the oven the tin plate and the hot baking sheet will help seal the bottom pastry and thus avoid the dreaded 'soggy bottom'. It does not always work. I had a bit of sog today but this is not the Great British Bake Off and Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are not going to take a look at it.
Put in pie filling, use pastry brush dipped in water to dampen the edges and then put on the top layer of pastry pinching the edges together to seal. If you have any pastry bits left over, roll them out and cut out shapes to put on top for decoration, brush with a little milk and pop in oven. If I have some Parmesan handy I sometimes scatter a bit on top for extra flavour.
Should take about 30 mins but do keep an eye out as every oven is different and it might be less than that. I dished it up for our lunch today with new potatoes, Chantenay carrots tossed in a herb butter and petit pois. Nothing fancy, just straightforward food.
For dessert we had Eve's pudding and will put that recipe up soon.