This classic Welsh “pie” is served on March 1st which is St. David’s Day. St. David’s Day celebrates Wales’ patron saint with celebrations all across the U.K. Born in the 6th century, Fr. David was heavily involved in missionary work and founded a number of monasteries. As a strong leader and with a strict adherence to Christian beliefs, his loyal followers grew. Fr. David was made Archbishop while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and was consecrated a saint by Pope Callistus in 1120. With more than 50 churches named after him, and the largest Cathedral in Wales, there is no doubt as to this man’s popularity.
I’m not sure why this particular dish is associated with St. David’s Day … could be because two of the key ingredients are practically national symbols of Wales (leeks and Caerphilly cheese). What I do know, however, is this is a fantastic family dish … and perfect for to be served on March 1st or any other day!
I have to admit I did not have Caerphilly cheese (and couldn’t find it), so I substituted Cheddar, but I think next time I’m going to use Stilton. I also added sliced mushrooms for a little earthiness. It was hearty, rich and delicious! As they say in Britain, “why not have a go?”.
CHICKEN AND LEEK PIE
Bake at 425° F for 20 minutes … reduce heat to 350° F for 40 minutes.
4 large chicken breasts, or 8 chicken thighs (or any combination), cubed
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups leeks, washed and sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup crumbled Caerphilly cheese (or Feta, or Gouda or Cheddar)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper
Cube the chicken pieces. In a large plastic bag, add the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Put the chicken cubes into the flour bag and toss til the chicken is completely coated.
Into a large skillet heat the oil and sear the chicken. Remove the chicken to a plate and add a bit more olive oil to the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium and saute the leeks til soft (about 5-6 minutes). Add the garlic.
Put the chicken back into the pan and add the mushrooms.
Turn up the heat and slowly add the chicken stock and the white wine. Stir well to combine and reduce to thicken.
Then turn the heat to low and add the heavy cream, the mustard and the cheese. Taste to adjust the seasoning.
Remove from the heat and add the fresh herbs. Pour everything into a large heat-proof casserole dish.
On a floured board, roll the puff pastry sheet out just a bit to fit over the top of the dish. Brush the egg around the top of the dish for the pastry to adhere.
Place the pastry on top and cut slits into the top of the pastry for the steam to escape. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg.
Place the casserole onto a baking tray just in case you get seepage.
Pop the tray into a very hot oven 425°F for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes.
Serve piping hot with a side salad and glass of wine! Now sit back and take all the complements!