What with all the dreadful weather and short days, our highly energetic Westie is only getting a morning walk and by early evening is ready for a bit more exercise. I like to relieve the tedium of endlessly throwing a ball and retrieving it from under sofas by tuning into the Good Food channel. The other day, at the height of Storm Imogen, with wind and rain lashing against the living room windows, I watched Nigel Slater make a delicious chicken and leek pie and have been craving a slice ever since.
It would be unforgivable to recommend a pie on the site, as the calorie, saturated fat and carb content is ridiculously high and so it should only be indulged in as a very rare treat, perhaps after a 10 mile hike to a pub that serves a great pie! But this recipe has got all the flavour and only a fraction of the fat, carbs and calories of its pie equivalent. After a quick google of the nutritional stats for ready made puff pastry (as per Nigel’s recipe), one portion contains around 500 calories, 10g of saturated fat and 40g of carbohydrates. The corresponding figures for the quantity of pasta used in my lasagne, are 120 calories, 0,1g saturates and 23g carbs.
The ‘filling’ itself is loaded with onions and leeks and packed full of lean chicken meat and makes use of every last bit of a chicken, aside from the skin which the dog and cat very much appreciated. Infact, it is a great dish to make with a leftover roast chicken, although you will probably need to supplement the chicken pickings with a couple of chicken breasts which you can pop in with the bones and other stock ingredients which my recipe uses to cook a whole bird.
I had to make my roasted vegetable lasagne for the veggie daughters, who both nearly caved in when they smelt the chicken version, as I used to make this a lot in their meat eating days and it was a firm favourite. As for the principal dog walker (that would be me), as we move from endless rain onto the promise of arctic blasts (prime pie weather), my resolve to not eat pie is strengthened. With the first signs of bluebell shoots bursting through the soggy woodland floor on this morning’s constitutional, I can feel spring on its way….somewhere over the (forecast) snowy horizon. And then I won’t feel like pie anymore. Phew. And I’ve got enough chicken and leek mix to do another lasagne for the diabetic and me.
- 1.8 kg whole chicken
- 400 grammes leeks peeled and thinly sliced weight
- 300 grammes onions peeled and finely chopped weight
- 1 bunch tarragon
- 4 bay leaves
- 8 black peppercorns
- 1 carrot roughly chopped
- 1 onion peeled and quartered
- splash white wine
- 50 grammes Plain flour
- 50 grammes Flora Light
- 50 ml Elmlea double light
- 50 grammes Parmesan cheese grated
- 300 grammes lasagne sheets around 15 sheets
- Pop the chicken in a pan that is just large enough to hold it, then shove the carrot, onion quarters, bay leaf, peppercorns and 6-8 sprigs of tarragon into the gaps. Top up the pan (nearly to the top) with water and bring to the boil, turn to a low simmer, cover and leave for two hours.
- Chop the onions and slice the leeks (easier if you slice them length ways first) and cook in a fry light coated pan until soft and silky. Set aside until chicken is ready as you need the stock to make the rest of the sauce.
- Once the chicken is done, remove from the pan and place on a plate ready to strip the flesh once it has cooled a little. Discard the skin.
- Strain the liquid/stock that remains from cooking the chicken into a jug to use for the sauce. I usually end up with about 2 pints, so there will probably be plenty left over to make a delicious soup. Skim the fat from the top of the stock before use.
- Return pan containing onions and leeks to a medium heat and add flora until melted.
- Add the flour and cook through for 1-2 minutes.
- Add a good splash (75ml) of white wine and stir for 1-2 minutes then begin adding chicken stock. You should need a little under a pint to make a nice thick sauce. Keep stirring until it's bubbling and add a bit more stock if it's too thick. Season well, stir in the Elmlea and remove from heat.
- Cut up chicken into bite sized pieces, finely chop another 8 sprigs of tarragon (leaves only) and add both to the sauce which is now ready for layering up in the lasagne dish.
- Start with a layer of chicken mix, topped with a sprinkling of grated parmesan and a layer of pasta. Repeat twice more finishing with a chicken layer and a final sprinkle of parmesan.
- Bake at 180 degrees for 40 minutes.