In my house we have a special go-to corn chowder soup recipe whenever we bring someone dinner. I didn’t even like corn chowder until we discovered it and it became one of my favorite meals. I was pretty confident that this was a one-time miracle and no other corny chowdery recipes would ever find their way into my heart, but surprise!—a new contender emerged in the form of the chicken and sweet corn pie we made last night. It practically is our corn chowder in pie form. I’m not really a pastry person and normally don’t care for pie crusts with a top layer, but with this pie the crust really completed the flavor and turned the delicious vegetable filling into a balanced meal. It’s also extremely pretty—probably the prettiest pie we’ve made.
I have to share the delightful description preceding the recipe for the pie because I didn’t even notice it until after we had eaten and squealed over our first pieces: “This quick and easy pie makes a tasty meal for children. Most children like corn, and extra cubed vegetables, such as mushrooms, celery, or carrots, can also be added to the filling.” So I guess my husband and I are officially children. But really—most children like corn?? Who approved that sentence?
Being the greedy, indulgent, cubed-vegetable-loving children that we are, we added both celery and carrots (and I would have added mushrooms also if I had read the entry before the recipe—children don’t like reading extra material, apparently) because we had extra of both in the house. My husband also complained that the book states “Prep 15 mins” but the actual prep ended up being more like 40 minutes with all the extra unplanned vegetable chopping and stove-heating and time-wasting childish antics that went into our version.
I enjoyed browsing through the cookbook, Pies: Sweet and Savory by Caroline Bretherton, but a note of caution: it doesn’t have quite as many pictures as you’d hope to see in skimming a book of pies—that is, assuming you are, like me, a child whose attention and taste glands gravitate towards all things visual and colorful. It does have quite a large collection of recipes though, including everything from meat pies to vegetarian pies to fruit pies to tarts and crumbles and strudels and something called bourekia (if you know what it is—congratulations. You’re probably not a child). And now, a happy second pie month to us all!
Chicken and Sweet Corn Pie
1 quart pie dish or 4 individual pie dishes
For the Filling:
2 tbsp olive oil
3 skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets, cut into chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 ¼ cups hot vegetable stock
12 oz can sweet corn kernels, drained
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
For the Pastry:
10 oz (300) store-bought puff pastry
1 large egg, lightly beaten, to glaze
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add to the pan and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes, until golden brown all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.
2. Heat the remaining olive oil in the same pan over low heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat gently for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour and a little of the cream. Return the pan to low heat and add the remaining cream and the stock, stirring constantly for 5–8 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Stir in the corn and parsley and season well with salt and pepper.
3. Spoon the mixture into the pie dish or dishes. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface so that it is 2 in (5 cm) larger all around than the top of the pie dish. Cut a strip of pastry about 1 in (2.5 cm) in from the edge to make a collar. Dampen the edge of the dish with a little water; fit the pastry strip all the way around and press down firmly. Brush the pastry collar with a little of the beaten egg, then top with the pastry lid. Pinch the edges together with your fingers to seal.
4. Brush the top with the remaining beaten egg and cut 2 slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake for 30–40 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden. Serve hot.