In the Summer, I was contacted by Shu-Han who works for Wholegood. We met at Plusixfive, a Singaporean supperclub that bore this wonderful beast of a book that I contributed to and Shu-Han art directed. She also writes the excellent Mummy, I Can Cook, featuring photography and food styling I can only aspire to. My crappy iPhone snaps and dodgy lighting is really thrown into focus in comparison. Sorrryyy.
Anyway, Wholegood are an organic fruit and vegetable supplier. They started off wholesale, but now Ocado stock their boxes and I was asked if I wanted to try one out. I was really impressed with the variety of vegetables and fruit that I received; corn, potatoes, tomatoes, nectarines, onions, pears, apples, napa cabbage, kale, gorgeous rainbow carrots. Bugger knows what to do with the kohlrabi though. I think I diced and stewed it? But they're a pretty colour so I'll let them off their uselessness. Everything was authentically covered in a little bit of soil so if you like your vegetables sterilised and shiny under plastic it's probably not for you.
I julienned the rainbow carrots to keep their bright vivid colours, and dressed them with sherry vinegar, pomegranate molasses, a touch of honey, chilli, spring onion, oil, salt, pomegranate seeds and mint. I went a bit leftfield and added shredded woodear mushrooms to bolster it some. This worked well with rich fatty meat and fish, such as lamb kebabs, or a grilled salmon fillet.
The corn was shucked from the cob and charred in a wok, then cooked with pork strips and kale in a black bean sauce. Wonderfully sweet and juicy, they worked well against the fermented black beans. A recipe for the black bean sauce is here. The fruit I snacked on, the cabbage I kimchi'd, and I don't think I've eaten healthier at home for a while.
It's kale season proper now, and this stuff is absolutely stunning. The leaves are deeply green, but the heart of it is candy pink. I am a huge fan of any iron-rich greens, so I looked to incorporate them into anything I could find. With the wet and windy nights we're having at the moment, pie was the only way to go.
Let's talk a moment about pies. You'll see I merely top my pie dish with pastry. This is ok for me because as much as I like pie I also really like pie filling. I also find it a bit stodgy if you go all the way around. I'm still calling it a pie.
This recipe is perfect for if you have any leftover roast or poached chicken. I used the leftover chicken from this recipe, but of course, you can cook chicken to order for it, and you can make it in advance, ready to bung in the oven too. The addition of wholegrain mustard and creme fraiche make it luxuriously creamy, but also with a slight tanginess that helps with the richness of the pastry. I served it with mashed potato and these red sprout tops, steamed for 4 minutes and tossed in melted butter. Bring on the fat pants.
Chicken, Kale & Sweetcorn Pie
400gr cooked chicken - thigh is best, but breast will also be good
2 large leeks, topped and tailed, trimmed and chopped finely
A small head of kale, washed and chopped roughly
250gr sweetcorn, canned
2 cloves of garlic, minced
A large handful of parsley
2 sprigs of thyme
150ml white wine
500ml chicken stock
4 heaped tbsp creme fraiche
1 scant tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 sheet of puff pastry
1 egg, whisked
20gr plain flour
1 tbsp cooking oil
In a large, deep saucepan heat the cooking oil on a medium heat. Add the leeks and the minced garlic and fry gently for at least 10 minutes. Add the thyme, then the white wine and turn the heat up high and reduce the wine by at least half. Add the kale, then the chicken stock and sweetcorn. Cook for a further 5 minutes until the kale has wilted. Stir in the parsley and the chicken and take off the heat.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the filling contents into a pie dish suitable for 4 people. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
In another saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook this for 3 - 4 minutes until it is a golden, nutty brown and then bit by bit, pour in the chicken stock mixture, whisking in between to remove lumps. When it has all been incorporated, simmer until it has thickened to the texture of thick gravy. Take off the heat, stir in the creme fraiche and the wholegrain mustard. Season to taste with pepper and salt, then pour over the pie filling. Give it a good stir to incorporate.
At this point, you can chill the mixture to cook later on. If you're cooking for now, though - unroll your puff pastry and place it over the pie dish, cutting and crimping the edges down to fit your dish. Glaze with the beaten egg and place in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes. Take the pie out 3 times during this time to glaze with a little more egg for a really burnished, shiny top. Serve with mashed potato and some steamed buttery greens.