Tuesday, 28 December 2010

A most spectacular pie for Boxing Day (or the day after)

If I were to put my neck on the line, I would not be at pains to say that all pies are good pies. There are decorative pies, celebratory pies, pies of time and place and pies of national treasure. Even those curious specimens that come tucked away in a tin have their merits.

There are pies that float and pies that land with a thud. There are uplifting pies, and more commonly, steadying pies. On occasion, you will chance upon a pie that manages to achieve both... If and when this is the case, be sure to return for seconds!

There are pies of the everyday – humble pies, as the rhetoric goes – and there are decadent pies. Spectacular pies. Pies of distinction. Here is an example of such a pie:

Chicken, foie gras, wild mushroom and Dauphinoise pie

An extremely indulgent pie... Enjoy with irregularity; proof that one can have too much of a good thing.

serves eight
a whole chicken
stock veg for poaching – onion, celery, leak, carrot
a bundle of aromatics – thyme, bay, parsley, peppercorns
olive oil
goose fat
4 shallots, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic
a few sprigs thyme, leaves picked and chopped
a few handfuls wild mushrooms
100g butter or more goose fat if you like
100g flour
100ml milk (or milk used to poach foie gras lobes for a terrine)
100ml chicken stock
a glass Madeira, Sauternes, or white wine
a grating of nutmeg
raw foie gras (e.g. the offcuts from making a terrine)
salt and pepper
left over foie gras terrine, cut into chunks, or poached foie gras lobes
left over roast goose, in pieces (optional)
left over ham, in chunks (optional)
left over gratin dauphinoise
puff pastry, rolled out to a 3mm thickness,
1 egg, lightly beaten

First, poach the chicken – bring to a simmer with the veg and aromatics, and poach for 1 hour. Try not to let the water come to the boil, as the flesh will stay more tender. Leave to cool, remove the flesh from the bones, drain the stock, discard the herbs and veg, and reduce the stock by two thirds so you have a thick, syrupy liquor. It will be good enough to eat. But resist the temptation – it has a grander fate awaiting.

Sauté the shallots in oil for a few minutes until softened. Add the thyme and garlic, and cook for a little longer. Add the mushrooms and sauté until softened. Do this in batches if necessary, so the mushrooms fry, not steam. When cooked, set aside.

Make a roux with the butter, or goose fat, and flour, and gradually add the stock and milk alternately, stirring all the time, to create a bechamel. Finally add the Madeira or Sauternes. Add the nutmeg and season. Add the mushrooms and raw foie gras and stir to combine.

Find a suitably decorative pie dish, worthy of such a creation as this. A disposable foil tin will not do. Place a layer of dauphinoise at the bottom, a few centimetres thick – it should half fill the pie dish. Place the chicken pieces (and ham and goose if using) on top of the dauphinoise, then liberally tuck in pieces of cooked foie gras or foie gras terrine. Now is the time to put shyness and cholesterol aside. Pour the mushroom and foie gras bechamel on top, so it covers all of the meat below. It already looks fabulous, doesn't it? Lay the pastry over the top of your pie, and decorate with hatched ribbons of more pastry, and poultry pastry shapes, if you're of an artistic disposition. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Brush all over with egg wash, and bake in the oven, loosely covered with foil for 40 minutes, removing the foil for the final 10. Remove from the oven and present to your dining companions to allow for collective pre-feast marvelling. Rejoice. Enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Wowsers, nice work (and lots of it...) Any pie where you have to make a foie gras terrine, roast a goose, dauphinoise some spuds and bake a ham is truly a labour of love..
    We used to do a similar one and call it 'mock goose pie'. Layers of sausage meat, homemade black pudding, apple sauce, more sausage and then puff pastry served with gravy and a dollop of mash. Not many lived to tell the tale..