Thursday, 21 July 2011

Chicken, broccoli and smoked cheese pie

One of the things I love about English food is the tolerant, liberal stance on putting anything between two pastry crusts or underneath mashed potatoes or breadcrumbs, and calling it a pie. Back home, pies are generally what you have for dessert. Granted, dinner might feature an impossible pie (the brilliant creation of cooks at Bisquick) or chicken pot pie, or shepherd’s pie…but each of those is a very specific recipe and has a defining word in front of ‘pie’. You’d never tell someone “I’m having pie for dinner,” and know that the other person would understand what you mean. In England, that same statement conjures up images of yummy meat, veg and gravy mixtures that are wonderfully comforting after a long day….and it make the other person want pie for dinner too.

The other day, T decided to make a breadcrumb-topped pie with chicken, broccoli and smoked cheese. It’s based on a chicken, broccoli and cheese pie from Sweeney & Todd in Reading that we sometimes share on a Friday (or, Pie Day, as we have come to call it). It’s easy to adapt the mix as you like, just make sure the cream/milk mixture comes over the chicken/broccoli/cheese in the baking dish, so it doesn’t come out too dry.

Serves 4

1-1½lb (500-600g) chicken, cut up
1½ cups (100g) smoked cheese, cubed
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1¼ cup (300ml) light cream
1¼ cup (300ml) milk
1 cup (60g) bread crumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400F/200C*. Move rack to the middle of the oven.
  • Cook chicken with garlic, lemon juice, and black pepper. Put cooked chicken in a square glass baking dish. Add the cubed cheese and broccoli, and mix with the chicken.
  • Mix cream and milk in a bowl, adding salt and pepper as desired, and pour over the chicken.
  • Cover with an even layer of breadcrumbs.
  • Bake for 45 minutes. The mixture should be piping hot and bubbling.

*If you're cooking chips/fries at the same time, increase the oven temperature as instructed for those and put them on the very top shelf in the oven. 

Serve with peas and potato wedges...

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