Cock-A-Leekie Pie

17 03 2011

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Today is the day we celebrate all things Irish whether you have Irish blood or are just Irish in spirit.  If you’re spending the evening at a pub or having a quiet night at home, an Irish-inspired dinner is a must to celebrate.  And of course, don’t forget the beer!

This is basically a pot pie, made with chicken, leeks and potatoes.  To save time, you can use leftover cooked chicken (a supermarket rotisserie chicken works well). However, if you don’t have a cooked chicken, you can poach some breasts and/or thighs quite easily:

Poaching Chicken: Select chicken breasts or thighs with the bone-in and skin on (you’ll need about 3 large breasts to yield enough meat for the pie).  Place the chicken pieces, skin side down, in a large pot and cover with chicken stock (about 3 cups). Peel and quarter a small onion and add to the pot.  Add a sprig of fresh sage and two sprigs of time.  Cover and simmer gently on medium-low heat (don’t bring to a hard boil).  Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces, or until the meat is just past pink.

Use tongs to remove the cooked chicken from the broth.  Let the chicken cool on a cutting board and bring the stock to a hard boil for five minutes.  While the stock is boiling, remove the chicken skin and discard. Use two forks to pull the meat from the bones and chop it into smaller pieces with a sharp knife. Place cooked meat in the casserole dish (as directed in the recipe below). Strain the stock and use the reserved stock in the recipe.  Extra stock can be kept in the fridge for a few days.

Cock-A-Leekie Pie

Serves 4 to 6

  • 3-1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken meat (white, dark or a combination – see above for instructions on how to poach chicken)
  • 1-1/2 cups cubed red potatoes (cut into 1/2″ cubes) – no need to peel them
  • 5 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, roots trimmed and cut into thin rings
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 package frozen puff pastry, thawed OR homemade pastry to cover a casserole dish

White Sauce:

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Add cubed potatoes to a large saucepan and add just enough cold water to cover them. Cover the pot and heat on high until the water comes to a boil.  Cook the potatoes until just tender (do not overcook), about 12 to 14 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, add the butter and heat on medium-high until melted. Add the sliced leeks.  Sauté until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chopped thyme and sage and cook for another minute.
  4. Remove the leeks from the heat and spoon into an oven-proof casserole dish. Add the potatoes and chopped chicken and set aside while preparing the white sauce.
  5. To make the white sauce: In a large saucepan, melt the butter on medium-high heat.  Stir in the flour and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook the flour-butter mixture for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. Whisk in the chicken stock and stir until the mixture is smooth.  Add the milk, a half-cup at a time, whisking continuously.  Let cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Stir in the cream.  Cook for another couple of minutes.  Season with salt to taste.
  8. To Assemble the Pie: Pour the white sauce over the potatoes, leeks and chicken that are in the casserole dish. Stir to combine. Roll out the thawed puff pastry dough (or other dough) to fit the top of the casserole dish. Lay the pastry over the top of the casserole dish and use a knife to make a few slashes in the top so steam can escape.
  9. Bake the pie for 20 minutes at 425 F or until the top is puffed and golden.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Bon Appétit and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Cock-a-Leekie Pie with a green salad

Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.


Guinness Stew

17 03 2009


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day is a great day to celebrate all things Irish, whether you have Irish roots or not.  Guinness stew may be a bit of a cliché but it’s easy, delicious and very economical.  This recipe requires some time to prep the ingredients (there are a lot of vegetables to be chopped) but once everything is in the pot your work is pretty much done. If you’re entertaining, it tastes even better the day after you make it.  Serve with mashed potatoes, some soda bread and of course, a pint of Guinness.

This particular recipe is a bit of a hybrid – it’s a cross between a traditional Irish stew and a French Beef Bourguinon.  Pearl onions can sometimes be found with the frozen foods or you can peel fresh ones.  When selecting turnip, be sure to use actual turnip and not rutabaga, which is more bitter tasting and much harder to peel.  The chive sour cream is optional but it adds a nice finishing touch to the stew.

Guinness Stew with Chive Sour Cream

Makes 6 to 8 servings

  • 1-1/2 lbs. stewing beef, cut into 1-1/2″ cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 4 rashers of bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (about 1-1/2 cups carrot pieces)
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes (about 1-1/2 cups turnip)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28 fl. oz. can whole tomatoes, including the juice
  • 440 ml / 15 fl. oz. Guinness beer (just under 2 cups of Guinness)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 10 medium sized white (button) mushrooms, halved
  • 2 cups whole peeled pearl onions (about 25 onions) – fresh or frozen
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a large bowl, toss cubes of stewing beef with flour until all pieces are coated.  Set aside.
  2. Heat a stockpot or enameled cast iron pot on medium heat.  Add bacon and cook until crisp and browned, about 8 minutes.  Remove bacon bits with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Do not drain bacon fat from the pot.
  3. Add beef cubes, diced onions, celery and garlic to the bacon fat.  Sauté until the beef is browned and vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add carrot chunks, parsnips and turnip.  Stir mixture and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add thyme and rosemary and stir until combined.
  5. Add worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, Guinness and beef broth to the pot.   Bring mixture to a simmer.
  6. Cover pot with a tight lid and simmer gently for one hour.  After an hour, remove cover, add pearl onions and mushrooms and return bacon bits to the stew.
  7. Continue to simmer uncovered for another 45 minutes.  The beef should be tender and the vegetables cooked through.  Serve with mashed potatoes and a dollop of chive sour cream.

Chive Sour Cream

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 Tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • Salt, to taste

Combine sour cream, chives and salt.  Stir until thoroughly mixed and serve with stew.

Guinness Stew with chive sour cream

Guinness Stew with chive sour cream

Bon Appétit and Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone!