Probably the best tip for hosting a successful dinner party is to make sure you are comfortable with the dish you are planning to serve. There is no greater stress, than to have everyone waiting for food and you not knowing if the food is going to come out well, (if, at all). Knowing this, and also knowing that on Saturday, we will be hosting a few guests, I did a test run of this chicken pie that I saw in one of my favorite cook books, Living and Eating. Normally, I'm not sure that I would go through the trouble to make something specifically to try out for a dinner party, (I would usually make something I have done before), but this looked so good to me and I wanted something that will take care of itself once our guests arrive. So, yesterday I ran to the market and got to cookin' and it was a great success.
This chicken pie is delicious with garlic, thyme and lemon infused into the cream sauce and it's golden crust is fine sight to see! I'll serve it with a simple mixed herb salad and some roasted acorn squash. It's the perfect meal for a Fall night, with a fire crackling in the background, either by yourself or surrounded by friends.
Chicken, Spinach and Lemon Pie
Adapted from Living and Eating, by John Pawson and Annie Bell
1 head of garlic
10 chicken thighs (organic, preferably)
Sea salt and black pepper
1 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping spoons of flour
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 thyme sprigs
1 TBLS butter
1 LB bag spinach
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk
1 TBLS milk, to glaze
Break garlic up and peel skins off of all the cloves. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pot, or saute pan, add half the chicken thighs and fry, turning until colored on all sides. Transfer to a dish and fry the remaining thighs, adding the garlic towards the end, so they soften without coloring.
Return all the chicken to the pot and sprinkle with the flour, turning the chicken to coat. Add the wine, which will thicken as it blends - let this seethe for one minute. Pour in 1 cup of water and stir until sauce is smooth. Add thyme and 2 long strip of lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes.
While the chicken cooks, melt butter in a deep skillet and add spinach, toss until fully wilted. Drain into a sieve, pressing out as much liquid as you can using the back of a spoon.
Transfer cooked chicken to a bowl and allow to cool. Once cooled, discard skin and remove chicken from the bone, then cut into shreds. Discard thyme and lemon peel from the sauce and add cream and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Add spinach and chicken to the sauce and cool to room temp. Taste for seasoning.
Preheat oven to 375. Roll out 2/3 of the pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface. Line a deep dish skillet or pie pan. Spoon out chicken mixture into dish. Roll out remaining pastry and place on top. Trim pastry lid allowing about 1/2 inch for shrinkage. Brush the top with egg yolk and milk egg wash. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Serve right away.
Note: For my dish in photos, I cut this recipe in half and used an 8" cast iron skillet. This allowed me to only use one sheet of pastry which I could simply fold over the top of the chicken filling. This served 2 people heartily.
To buy Living and Eating, click here.