I surprised myself with this dish. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I had to give in and try out some of this protein heavy mock meat. In all honesty at first glance I was slightly put off by it, I'd almost prefer if it didn't try so hard to look just like it's fleshy counterpart. I'd eaten vegetarian sausages in the past but this seemed like one step too far, I was struggling to take mock food seriously. Thankfully I managed to press on through and although not one hundred percent sold on this over meat I now appreciate that it works as the perfect base to take on as many flavours as you want to add to it. No one missed the real McCoy here and I have to say I felt a little less guilt when eating it...needless to say the vegetarian boyfriend was like an over fed newborn after his third serving.
Hearty Fake Chicken Pie
Cooking / Preparation Time - 45mins
150g of 'Chicken Style Pieces' (Veggi Deli's pretty good)
1/2 x Red onion - Roughly chopped
2 x Garlic cloves - Crushed and roughly chopped
1 x Leek - Roughly chopped into chunks
200g x Spinach
3 x Fresh sage leaves
Fresh thyme - Leaves removed from stalks
Sprinkle of rock salt & black & white pepper
Pre-rolled shortcrust pastry
1 x Egg yolk to cover pastry lid
60g x Mature / Extra strong vegetarian cheddar - Grated
2 x Tbsp of plain flour
1/4 x Pint of milk
1 x Tsp of dijon
3/4 x Pint of vegetable stock
Large nob of butter (around 30g)
Salt, black & white pepper
To save time use pre-rolled shortcrust pastry. Ensure you don't roll it out too thinly and if you like a bit of added flavour, chop up some fresh thyme and sage and gently roll into the pastry.
Start by combining the chopped onions, leeks, garlic, sage, salt & pepper to a generous glug of olive oil and cook on a medium heat for 4/5 minutes until they start the soften. Add in the spinach and chicken style pieces along with the chopped, fresh thyme. Be sure to stir thoroughly ensuring nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan and cook on a medium to low heat for 10 minutes whilst you make the cheese sauce.
For the cheese sauce -
Start by melting the butter on a low heat in a separate pan. Once melted add in two tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together in a paste. Next add in the dijon and season. Be generous with the white pepper and cook for a minute or two, again not allowing it to stick to the bottom of the pan. Gradually begin to add in the milk, whisking the flour mixture until it turns into a thick, smooth paste and continue to cook for a few minutes. Next add in the vegetable stock whilst continuing to stir the mixture. You can turn the heat up slightly before adding your grated veggie cheese allowing it to melt into the mixture. Stir or whisk until smooth.Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
Once both the pie filling and cheesy sauce are tasting good combine them and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Cut you rolled pastry to size and lay some out across the bottom of your pie dish (if it's not a non-stick dish add a layer of butter to the bottom and sides first) and add the filling. Be as generous as the dish allows then lay the pastry lid you've cut over the top ensuring it reaches the edges and meets with the bottom layer of pastry. Coat the edges of the bottom layer of pastry with egg wash, then with your fingers and thumb push the pastry lid and bottom layer together. You can alternatively use the back of a fork. Ensure you coat the top of the pie in whisked egg and don't forget to make a hole in the middle of the pie. This allows the steam to escape and helps cook and crispen your pie lid.
Cook on 190 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes and take out once golden.
Serve immediately. Accompaniments are whatever you fancy; Roast potatoes, mash, peas, mushy peas, gravy...crispy shallots and greens are a definite favourite.