So much of life happens around the table. From the moment my children could eat, the table became a place for sharing news about the great and not so great parts of our day. As they and their vocabularies grew, they began to declare their preference for certain “mum-o” dishes. And one dish that is asked for more than any other is my chicken, mushroom and miso pies.
Pie night is like end-of-school term, winning the premiership and Christmas morning all rolled into one. It can be loud and boisterous, the family either making fun of or consoling each other. It’s also a time for stories, sometimes hilarious, other times heartfelt. We talk about times past and share memories of my mother and father, who are no longer with us. Speaking of Mum, this recipe is the dish she liked me to make for her. In fact, it was the last dish I cooked for Mum – at her request – before she passed away.
What makes a humble pie so magical? Maybe it’s the combination of creamy filling with flaky pastry that makes it feel like home. Or the memories of when I would mould everyone’s initials in pastry and place them on top of each pie. I did this for years before deciding love hearts were more apt. To this day, you’ll find a pastry love heart atop every one of my pies. I love seeing the look on the kids’ faces when they see this pie. It reflects all that I think home should feel and look like. Their faces say “I am loved”.
This is a simple recipe, and perhaps it’s the simplicity that my children love. It’s always been a classic combo of chicken and mushroom, sometimes with a leek or two. The past few years have seen the addition of miso, which I ferment at home. You can buy beautiful miso at most supermarkets. It adds a savouriness that cannot be replicated. And store-bought pastry is great on those days when you don’t have time to make your own from scratch.
I am proud of these pies because they somehow achieve all I have ever wanted – a family that knows they are deeply loved. This food is my version of a big, deep hug. I really hope that somehow, this comfort dish can become as special to your family as it is to mine. May it fill you with a generous serve of warmth and care. And may you know that you are always loved by someone.
Chicken, Mushroom and Miso Pot Pies
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus a splash extra for later in the recipe)
- 800g chicken thigh fillets
- salt and pepper to season
- 50g unsalted butter
- 1 leek, white end washed and finely sliced
- 300g button or portobello mushrooms, sliced or chopped into smaller pieces
- 3-4 tablespoons plain flourr
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup cream
- 2 tablespoons miso
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 3 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed in fridge
- Egg wash (1 well-whisked egg with 2 tablespoons of water or milk)
Preheat oven to 200˚C. Heat a large saucepan or high-sided frypan over medium to high heat, add olive oil. Season thigh fillets then add to the hot pan, turn heat down very slightly and continue until cooked through and slightly golden, turning over once – approximately 12-15 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Using the same pan – don’t wash it out because the flavour from the cooked chicken is wonderful – return to the heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted and is bubbling, add a good splash of olive oil and the chopped leeks, and let cook for 2 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and cook until softened, approximately 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle the flour over the leek and mushroom mix and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Gradually and while stirring, add the stock and cream, and simmer until the mixture has thickened. Fold the chicken and miso through the mixture, cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add chopped parsley.
Spoon mixture into ramekins and top with a round of pastry, making sure to leave at least an extra 2-3cm overhang. You can also add any pastry decorations using the offcuts from your pastry sheets. Brush with egg wash.
Place pot pies into the oven and bake until cooked through and golden – approximately 20 minutes.
Mandy Hall is a former MasterChef contestant. Visit her website ‘Love, Ferments and Food‘ for more of her recipes.
Plan to recreate this dish at home? Tag us with your creation! @BigIssueAustralia #TastesLikeHome.
First published in The Big Issue edition #639.