Chicken Pie, Smashed Carrots, and French PeasJamie’s 30-Minute Meals – Chicken Pie
Okay, so are you guys watching Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals? They started airing it here recently and we’ve been recording each episode. We really like it! I like the concept of showing how to prepare a whole meal (complete with sides and desserts), and how he gives you the whole order of operations (which I always suck at). Last week the Snook was inspired by the Roast Beef episode to make us a Roast Pork dinner. He did the carrots, potatoes, and Yorkshire pudds as per the show, but changed up the beef fillet to pork and made his own gravy. It was fantastic.

This week it was my turn, and I decided to tackle the “Chicken Pie, Smashed Carrots, and French Peas.” (The recipe’s not online but my friend Josh has the book and shared it.) I’d read some complaints that the “30 minute” thing is a cheat, so I decided to time myself as an experiment. We already have homemade ice cream, so I skipped the dessert. We decided that having to read the recipe was a likely hurdle, so the plan was to have the Snook shouting out instructions like a rally co-driver. (I read through it myself ahead of time.) I got out all the ingredients and utensils. I did all Jamie’s suggested prep: put a wet towel under the cutting board, plug in the food processor, boil the kettle, turn on the oven, and get the pans heating up. And then WE WERE OFF.

The first part was deceptively easy. I cut up my chicken breasts and got them going in the pan. Then I was meant to slice my mushrooms and green onions in the food processor. Within the first five minutes, I hit a major road block: our food processor SUCKS. It’s too small, and the blades are really crappy. The mushrooms went through okay (if a little minced), but the green onions gave me major trouble. Instead of slicing through nicely, they jammed between the blade and the lid and wrapped themselves around the axle. I ended up having to quickly chop the last bits by hand. Eventually I got them into the pan though and added the other stuff for my pie. This is when I started to realise that our big frying pan was going to be a tight fit. It was impossible to stir quickly or I’d slop gravy over the edge. But whatever, the pie mix was cooking. I was still trying to be calm, but things were getting crazy.

Next was the carrots. Again, you were meant to slice them in the food processor. Again, disaster. They kept getting wedged and I kept having to take the lid off and pull bits out. Carrot juice and bits flying EVERYWHERE. Again, I ended up chopping the last bits myself. Finally got them in the pan with the other ingredients and the lid on.

Then it was time to assemble the pie. I dumped the filling into a Pyrex baking dish and then turned to my puff pastry. I was using up a couple sheets from the freezer that had been broken, so I tried to “Frankenstein” them together into a coherent sheet. It was a bit sloppy and messy, but not too bad. Pie went into the oven. I knew I was running way behind at this point.

Finally the peas. I made up a thickened chicken stock in the same pan I’d cooked the pie filling in and then got my peas into it. I was supposed to run the lettuce through the food processor, but BUGGER THAT. I quickly sliced it by hand. That went in, along with the other ingredients. That’s when I realised I didn’t have a lid big enough for that pan. BUGGER BUGGER. I just turned it down and let it cook.

Then the last step: the carrots got drained and then smashed with a potato masher. That went okay. Then it was plating up time! The pie looked better than expected and smelled great. The peas probably got a bit overcooked, but they were still tasty. The carrots were good. (I’m not a huge fan of carrots, and I ate these happily.)

Final verdict: The elapsed time (since I started cutting up the chicken) ended up being about 45 minutes. I was way stressed out and actually sweating by the end of it. My kitchen was a disaster. But you know what? It was still worth it. The meal was excellent. Clean-up actually only took a few minutes since you only really use three pans. And I did WAY better than those crappy Guardian cooks. I also learned some really valuable stuff:

  1. Preparation is key. Get everything out and ready to go. Make sure your salt isn’t hiding in the living room (like mine was). Make sure the pepper grinder is full.
  2. Precise measuring is overrated. Instead of measuring out 2 teaspoons of this and 1 heaped tablespoon of that and 300ml of stock, I just eyeballed it. It was fine.
  3. You don’t need to peel carrots or trim button mushrooms. Really. Just give ’em a wash.
  4. If you really want to take advantage of the food processor, IT NEEDS TO NOT SUCK. (Yeah, we’ll be getting a new one.)

The book is sold out in most places but we’ve got it on order. (Tip for the Aussies: Use Booko to find the cheapest price.) The Snook said as we were eating: “When it gets here, you want to cook our way through the whole thing?” Sounds like a plan!