Winter is fast approaching Southern Africa and so is the need for some good, hearty home-cooked food. Try this tasty free-range chicken and wild mushroom pie as part of a wholesome Sunday lunch.
Recipe feeds 10 – 12
2 free-range organic chickens
2 teaspoons of Maldon sea salt
Crushed black pepper to taste
A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
2-3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 chillies, roughly chopped
small knob of butter 300 g
Dried or 500 g fresh Porcini mushrooms, cut into 5 mm slices
2 whole onions, peeled
1 free-range egg
And for the roux
60 g butter
4 level tablespoons cornflour
600 ml milk
Black pepper and salt to taste
Rinse the chickens under cold water and gently pat dry. Rub them all over with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme (including the inside of the bird). Place both birds in your baking dish and roast at 180°C for 1 to 1½ hours until the chicken is tender and the juices run clear when it is poked with a skewer. If the juice is pink, the chicken needs to cook for a while longer. Once the chicken is cooked, let it cool down, then debone it, breaking up all the meat into small pieces.
If you are using dried mushrooms, soak them in hot water. Do this at the same time as you put the chickens in the oven because the mushrooms need a good hour to rehydrate properly. Drain off excess liquid afterwards. Pan fry the garlic, sliced onion and chillies in a small knob of butter until the onion turn translucent. Add the mushrooms and pan fry on a low heat until there is no excess juice left, this takes a couple of minutes.
Make the roux. Melt butter in a pan, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cornflour – it will start to thicken almost immediately. Continue stirring for 1 to 2 minutes and then start adding the milk little by little. Using a whisk to mix until you have a smooth roux. Once you’ve added all the milk, flavour with salt and pepper and a sprig or two of thyme. Return the pan to the heat and simmer very gently for 10 minutes, stirring continuously. If the sauce goes lumpy, strain it through a fine sieve or use a blender. When the sauce is ready, add the mushrooms and stir. Then pour over your chicken pieces and mix well.
The ideal size for your pie dish is 25 cm long x 17 cm wide x 5 cm deep. Wet the edge of your dish with a damp cloth then cut thin strips of pastry and line the outside edge to give the pie a nice double crust. Spoon the mixture into the pie dish. Place the 2 whole onions on top of the chicken mixture – this will prevent the pastry from collapsing. Place the rest of the sheet of pastry over the dish. Press the edges down firmly and trim off the excess. Using the back of a fork press down the edge of your pie. Lastly, whisk the egg and give the pie an all-over layer of egg-wash using a basting brush. Bake at 220°C for 25 minutes until the pie is crispy and golden.
For more recipes take a look at the current food feature in Safari interactive magazine where Assistant Editor Holly Meadows explores Reunion Island cuisine, featuring a Scallops & Squid ink Risotto Recipe and a Herb crusted Lamb Loin Recipe