Easy, Lunch or Dinner, Savoury

Unnecessary Humble Pie / Chicken & Leek Pie

A few weeks ago, I wrote a recipe for roasted garlic and pumpkin pie. In the comments, a woman whose blog I really enjoy wrote that she would like to make the pie, once she’d converted the ingredients from grams to cups.

I’m not sure what happened to me then. I definitely felt excitement that a blogger I admired was commenting, I’m aware that my ego’s been feeling a little fragile recently with some meditative work I’ve been doing, and my attention had wandered that day from keeping me mindfully right sized. But whatever the reason, I responded with a lengthy and unasked for piece of advice about why she should never use cups in her baking because grams were so clearly superior.

I had evidence (I’m pretty practised at backing up inappropriate behaviour with all sorts of good scientific proof — just read my piece on fundamentalism), and was wily enough to riff off a small joke at my own expense at the end. Like that would somehow undo the damage I was causing with my words.

Even before I hit the ‘respond’ button I had a feeling that this action wasn’t okay, that I should pause in my doubt and take some time. But, in my distracted state, the voice that usually stays my hand wasn’t there and I clicked my potential for humility away.

I initially wrote this piece humorously, and invented a conversation with a friend to try to make me seem more amused by the whole scenario than I actually am. But the reality, if I’m not mindfully careful, is that I stew over situations like these, where I could have chosen to step on the side of good living but instead I tumble into who I don’t want to be. My thinking can rapidly transgress far beyond the story that’s actually happening and tell me I’m no good, unloveable, idiotic. Everything becomes additional evidence of my ineptitude to survive in contact with others, and therefore proof that I should avoid everyone forever.

Once upon a time, I would have welcomed these thoughts as some sort of therapeutic exercise. This one small, foolish act could have been the beginning of a self-absorbed self-loathing enterprise designed purely to think about myself more, while deludedly telling myself that it wasn’t self obsession if I was thinking about being in the wrong. That I was figuring it out so I can be perfectly behaved next time, and that it was necessary, even essential.

Now, after ten years of walking a kinder, less dishonest path, I fully recognise that any extended thinking with me playing a role is not only boring self obsession, it’s also incredibly dangerous for a mind like mine that, if I’m not paying enough attention, finds deep bogs of obsessive thinking to wallow in.

So, with trusted friends, I look at the part of my thinking that’s led me back into the labyrinth of unhelpful reasoning and try to separate out the delusions of what I think I see, from the reality of the situation.

And then, once I think I’ve seen the reality – in this case that I wasn’t having my best day and was trying to stroke my own ego with total disregard for someone else – I see what I can do about mending any harm I believe I’ve caused, whether they remember, or care about the harm.

In this way, I stay free from the snatching snares of self, and have a chance at living peacefully for one more day.

On this occasion I deleted the comment, then sent my fellow blogger a private apology by email. A day later she responded, very kindly, saying that she had no idea what I was talking about as she’d never read my comment… I laughed for quite a long time at the realisation that even once I’ve done the work to get right sized, reality can still be just a distant dream in my fantasy-filled mind.

In the same vein, I spent years avoiding making pastry as it seemed too complex, too challenging and just too much hard work. Finally, I willed myself into making a pie very similar to the one I’m sharing with you today — which I’ve adapted from The River Cottage Everyday Cookbook — and was blown away by the ease at which it came together and turned into delicious, old fashioned flakiness. In this recipe it’s coupled with a classic chicken and leek filling. Freezable and easy to reheat in the microwave if, like me, you like that sort of easy cooking. You can fill these with almost anything savoury or sweet though, as long as there isn’t too much liquid.

Enjoy.

Pastry

  • 300g plain (all purpose) flour
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 150g chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • water and ice, in a glass

Filling

  • 30g butter
  • 500g leeks (about 2-3 leeks), trimmed and finely sliced
  • 1 tsp roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 150ml double (heavy) cream
  • 1 tsp seeded mustard
  • 400g chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1 tbl sp olive oil
  • salt & pepper for seasoning
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the pastry

Mix the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl before adding the butter and tossing until the pieces are covered with flour

Add enough iced water to form the mixture into a fairly firm dough (between 8 and 10 tablespoons)

Shape the dough into a rectangle with your hands, dust a surface and a rolling pin with flour, then roll the pastry away from you until the rectangle’s about 1cm thick

Imagining that your pastry is divided into three, fold the far end of the third towards you to cover the middle third before folding the third closest to you over the top

You will now have a rectangle with three layers of equal size

Quarter turn the pastry and repeat the rolling, folding and turning process 5 more times

Wrap the pastry in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least ½ hour

For the filling

Melt the butter in a frying pan before adding the leeks and parsley

Cook gently for 5-10 minutes until the leeks are very tender

Stir in the cream and continue cooking gently for about 5 minutes, until the mixture has reduced and thickened

Stir in the seeded mustard, and some salt and pepper, before leaving to cool

Turn up to medium high heat, add the olive oil to the same pan and, once warmed, add the chicken

Cook for a few minutes until the chicken is nicely golden coloured

For the pie

Lightly flour a working surface before rolling out the pastry to 3mm thick

Use a plate or tin (I use a loose-bottomed cake tin) to cut out four 20cm circles, I need to re-roll for my fourth circle

Spoon the filling on one half of the pastry circles and pile on the chicken

Brush the edges with a little water before folding over the other half of the pastry

Crimp the edges to completely seal

Place some baking paper onto a baking tray and the pies onto the paper

Brush the egg over the tops of the pasties before baking for about 25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown

Eat hot or cold

Standard

17 thoughts on “Unnecessary Humble Pie / Chicken & Leek Pie

    • Thanks Amanda, I’ve had people say it’s tricky to comment before. I suspect WordPress isn’t the easiest for engagement, but it may well be me! I’ll look into it; thanks for the heads up and for the lovely compliment!

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  1. Loved the post – but especially the part about her not seeing your reply (which I think is usually the case, unless a blogger has comment notification set up!) – awesome. And…I must say, as the laziest person in the kitchen, I was sad to see grams on this recipe, after all that.

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    • Ha! I was wondering if anyone would pick up that my control-freakish mind wasn’t actually going to do any changing in the cups vs grams debate! Grams it is I’m afraid, but this time I’m not writing a long, opinionated piece about why… Feel free to google…

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  2. I love your blog and I’m kind of blown away how familiar it feels to me…Anyway, your honesty about this scenario with a perhaps righteous comment is refreshing and so understandable. ALSO The River Cottage Cookbook is the most-read book on our shelf. I think you might be my blogger soulmate. 🙂 We are slaughtering a rooster today and have leeks in the fridge. Even though I made goose pot pie last week, we may have to try this recipe before it’s too darn hot. Yum.

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    • Thank you so much! I adore reading bloggers that feel like coming home, and relate strongly to the section in your About page that laments not being clustered into a loving huddle of likemindedness. I feel so lucky we get to find each other here – anyone who melts at River Cottage, makes goose pot pie and can understand a life lived a little awkwardly, is my kind of person!

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  3. Found you through the rabbit hole that is the world of blogging and this post was exactly what I needed to read today, so thank you for your honesty and your humor. And now I’m off to learn all about grams vs. cups. 😉

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  4. Ah, I love the honesty in this. Honesty makes things worth reading. it’s really the only thing we have, isn’t it, sharing the weird thoughts in our brains and hoping someone gets it?

    xo

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  5. Well, I just have to like this post! Ha! I loved that point when you realize after doing the honest work of making things right (and I would argue you hadn’t done anything truly wrong!), it turned out that your earlier comment was never read in the first place (sigh… still curious over here)… it reminds me of those arguments in my head that I can’t win, even though they are my own. Keep on writing and cooking, my blogging friend!

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