I was still at school when my sister Miss Chocolate brought home her boyfriend from varsity. Although we didn’t know it then, this very young looking student with the big and crazy laugh was later to become my dearest B-I-L. I have been out of school for ….coughs and clears throat….over twenty years now, so without needing to be specific, we could say that I have had a brother for twenty odd years.
As far as B-I-Ls go, I would say that I think I got one of the good ones. Firstly, he eats his steak rare. That is how you get into our little family, you know, by eating severely under cooked meat. Secondly, he went along with Dear Husband’s crazy scheme to drag themselves along the Comrades Route, and although that hangs a question mark over his mental state, it also means that he is pretty much up for anything. And that makes him a really fun uncle, and that makes my kiddo’s just adore him.
Also, if you ever find yourself stuck in a Johannesburg hotel room with just him, your husband and your sister, he will find The Hangover on the telly and make you laugh till your belly hurts. You must understand that not only is my B-I-L generous by default and mildly smart, he is also one of the funniest people I know. Back in the day he was a huge fan of Rowan Atkinson and Calvin and Hobbs, but lately I think he feeds his sense of humour by terrorizing his sons and publicly embarrassing his pre-teen daughter by shouting and waving at her across the school parking lot. As you do.
The reason I am thinking of my B-I-L today is because I am making Chicken and Leek Pie. Even though my B-I-L is quite the amateur kitchen enthusiast, coming into his own around Christmas time when he is known to send mince pies and a particularly drunk trifle to the table, there was a time when this poor man just wanted a pie; cooked in his own kitchen, by his own wife.
But his wife did no oblige. Not once, for many many years. And to this day no one really knows why.
Miss Chocolate finally relented and has since produced many a pie and I think the matter has now been settled, but every time I make a pie it makes me think of my two crazy lovelies so very far away, who always used to pull faces in photographs and who have thankfully stopped moving house almost every six months, but still eat chocolate (for her) and cookies (for him) every night after dinner.
B-I-L is just my way of saying my “Brother Is a Legend!” What do you say to making him a pie?
What you need
1 good sized whole chicken
½ tsp. peppercorns
2 bay leaves
3-4 thyme sprigs
1 onion, halved
1 celery stick
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 leeks, well washed and thinly sliced
¼ cup butter
¼ cup plain flour
Salt, pepper and nutmeg to season
4 Tbsps. chopped fresh parsley
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 box store bought puff pastry (I use this)
1 Beaten egg, for glazing
- Begin by cooking the chicken in a manner that yields a good chicken broth.
- Place the chicken in a large pot.
- Pour in enough water to just cover the chicken and then add the peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, onion and celery.
- Add the salt and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour until tender, skimming any white boil froth off the surface.
- Remove the chicken and allow to cool, reserve and strain 2 cups of the broth.
- Strip the meat off the chicken and discard any skin, fat and bones.
- Shred or cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
- Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions and the leeks until softened.
- Season well and add to the chicken.
- In a saucepan make a sauce by melting the butter and then adding the flour.
- Stir until it forms a paste and cook out the flour over low heat.
- Add some of the broth and stir until the mixture is thick and smooth.
- Add the rest of the broth.
- Simmer until thickened and season well.
- Add enough of this sauce to the chicken to coat it well and then leave to cool.
- Stir in the parsley and the lemon juice.
- Very lightly roll out the pastry to just a little bit larger than your pie dish.
- Place the cooled pie filling into your pie dish.
- Brush the edge of the dish with water and place the pastry over the top, sticking the edges to the pie dish.
- Decorate as you wish.
- Make a hole in the lid center with the tip of the knife, to allow steam to escape as the pie bakes.
- Brush the pastry with the beaten egg.
- Chill the pie for 15 minutes to set the pastry.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 190˚ for 30 – 35 minutes until the pastry is crisp, puffed up and deep golden brown.
In twelve itsy bitsy days we will be en route to London, England. And that is all I am going to say about that.