Savory pies were one of those things we’d often secretly “steal” and eat at my parent’s eatery. We grew up eating nothing but traditional Chinese food; so much so, we didn’t even eat anything off the “Chinese” menu… so anything “different” was always a “treat”.
The source of these sinful treats was made easier when we grew up a little, and could afford to buy Pukka pies. Pukka pies are in my opinion, the king of pre-made, savory pies – they are damn delicious! Many fish and chip shops buy them frozen, and bake them themselves. They can even be purchased in supermarkets now. My favorite flavor is beef and onion, however, I also like chicken and mushroom.
Since I now live in Greater Seattle, grabbing a Pukka pie is impossible. Although, I know savory pies do exist here, they are just not the same. Hence, this pie was born. The pie consists of a buttery shortcrust pastry lid, which covers a filling of tender chunks of chicken and mushrooms in a thick and creamy tarragon-flavored white sauce. The flavor combination comes from one of my favorite instant mushroom, noodle and tarragon cup-a-soups. Yes, I really did use to eat that crap… ugh.
I used chicken thighs, as they have more flavor and juicier than chicken breasts, and a combination of shiitake, portabello and crimini mushrooms. Feel free to dress up or down the pie as much as you want. If you don’t like the taste of tarragon, simply leave it out. If you prefer only button mushrooms, simply use them. It’s totally up to you.
I cut down the calories of this pie by using just a pastry lid (single crust), and not adding any fat in the white sauce. If serving four, each serving is a under 200 calories! However, we ate half the pie with almost 450 g (1 lb) sautéed greens each. The results are pretty good, even if I do say so myself. Once again, J said nothing throughout dinner, but uttered the word “delicious” at the end.
CHICKEN, MUSHROOM AND TARRAGON PIE
Makes one 20 cm (8 inch) round pie, serves 4
For the shortcrust pastry (pie crust)*
- 90 g (½ c and 1 ½ tablespoons) plain (all-purpose) flour**
- 40g (2 ⅔ tablespoons) unsalted European butter, cut into cubes
- 1 pinch salt
- 2-3 tablespoons cold water
For the filling
- 300 g (⅔ lb) mixed mushrooms, cut into chunks or thickly sliced
- 4 tablespoons water
- 300 g (⅔ lb) chicken thigh meat, cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) cubes
- 100 ml (⅓ c and 1 ½ tablespoons) milk, mixed with 40 g (¼ c) plain (all-purpose) flour until smooth
- 300 ml (1 ¼ c) milk
- 1- 1 ½ teaspoons dried tarragon
- salt and pepper to taste
For egg wash
- 1 egg, beaten with 1-2 tablespoons milk
* You can also use ready-made, shop-bought shortcrust or puff (flaky) pastry if desired.
** Can be substituted for 50:50 plain (all-purpose):wholemeal (whole wheat) flour, which is what I did.
1. To make the pastry (pie crust). In a medium bowl, stir together flour and salt. Rub in butter until the butter is no bigger/smaller than the size of peas. Stir in just enough cold water to create a shaggy mess, then knead gently to create a smooth dough. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and chill for at least 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the filling. Cook the mushrooms in a medium, non-stick frying pan over medium heat with 4 tablespoons water for about 3-4 minutes.
3. Add chicken, 300 ml (1 ¼ c) milk and tarragon. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in milk/flour slurry. Cook and stir until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 4-5 minutes. Season to taste, then remove pan from heat and let cool.
4. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).
5. Roll out pastry large enough to cover the pie tin with about 2.5 cm (1 inch) border spare all around.
6. Transfer chicken and mushroom mixture to 20 cm (8 inch) pie tin (pan) and lay the pastry (pie crust) over the filling. Crimp the edges as desired, pressing firmly to stick it to the rim of the pie tin (pan). Brush pie with egg wash and stab two holes in the centre of the pie for air vents.
7. Place pie onto a baking tray (sheet/pan) and bake in middle of preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until pastry (pie crust) is golden. Slice and serve!