Pie has to be way up there on my list of perfect comfort food dishes - in fact I'd go so far as to say that pie IS my favourite comfort food. All the warming goodness of a hearty winter stew rich and steaming, topped with a generous layer of golden buttery pastry.
When it comes to choosing which pastry I have terrible indecision, mostly because I am completely addicted to pastry - the more pastry the better and I want them all. Buttery, crumbly shortcrust, flaky and lighter than air puff pastry, rich and heavily delicious suet pastry... but the best pastry of all... my absolute favourite pie topping pastry is mashed potato pastry.
If you have never stumbled across the joys of mashed potato pastry let me introduce you... to the lightest, softest pastry that is somehow crisp and crumbly at the same time. Mashed potato pastry has been part of my world since I was a little girl Mum had this cook book by Josceline Dimbleby called Marvellous meals with mince and my two favourite recipes were a really 80's meatloaf smothered with blue cheese and tomato ketchup and Piglet Pie. Piglet pie was topped with mashed potato pastry and it was love at first taste. Such was the power of mince that the book was republished a couple of years ago so I am now the proud owner of my own copy and it's retro classics live on in my cooking.
What to put under the pastry
I have leftover roast chicken in my fridge that is just crying out to be made into a perfect pie. It's also raining and I can't be bothered to leave the house to get other pie ingredients - what I'm thinking is something creamy with mushrooms, thyme and leeks but I don't have any of those so to avoid a soaking I'm going to have to work with what I have. There is about half a cured chorizo and a bunch of tarragon which will do nicely. To flll it out in the absence of leeks I slice up 3 large onions and sweat them down in the oil released from the fried off chorizo, until they are really reduced, sticky and golden to give a rich depth of flavour to the pie filling. Lots of garlic next then I chuck in the crisped chorizo and chicken. As it is feeling a little Spanish-y I use up the end of a bottle of medium dry sherry that I have knocking about that is probably past its best drinking but will be delicious in my sauce. Home made chicken stock, tarragon and plenty of crème fraîche. Once it is cooled it's ready for it's glorious mashed potato pastry top. I make more pastry than I need as I love to roll it out and cook it alongside the pie for extra pastry goodness.
Chicken, chorizo and tarragon pie with mashed potato pastry
250g cured chorizo, sliced
good knob of butter
3 large onions, finely sliced
3 large cloves of garlic, finely sliced
350g leftover roast chicken, torn into pieces
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
good slosh of medium dry sherry
200ml fresh chicken stock (or from a cube)
good dollop crème fraîche
for the pastry
175g self raising flour
100g cold unsalted butter, cubed
175g left over mashed potato, or one large baking potato, cooked and flesh scooped
a medium free-range egg yolk, plus 1 egg beaten with a little mlk to glaze
Heat a pan over a medium heat and dry fry the chorizo until it is golden and has released all its oil. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the butter to the pan and tip in the onions and fry for a good 10-12 minutes until really soft and golden. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds before adding the chorizo back into the pan with the shredded roast chicken.
Add the flour and stir for a minute then pour in the sherry and bubble for a few minutes until reduced by half then add the stock and season well. simmer for 5-10 minutes until you have a thick sauce. stir in the crème fraîche and tarragon and set aside to cool.
Make the pastry, rub the flour and butter together until they resemble breadcrumbs then mix in the leftover mash and the egg yolk. Season and bring together with your hands to form a soft pastry. Chill for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200c. fan 180c.
Spoon the filling into a pie dish. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a bit thicker than a pound coin then top the pie. Use any trimmings to decorate the pie then roll out anything you have left and place on a baking sheet. Brush all over with the egg and milk mixture. Bake for 25-3o minute until golden. Serve immediately with seasonal greens.