Winter: it’s all about the food

Winter has well and truly struck in the southern hemisphere, particularly in Melbourne. Every year I think us Melburnians enjoy the summer so much that we forget how torrid the winter can be. Now I know it doesn’t compare to some parts of the world, where winter very nearly knocks your socks off.

But here, well, we’re not really equipped for winter and each year we are taken by surprise when it drops below zero over night. We all freeze and complain about how freezing it is, with such fervour that anyone would think we’d been snowed in.

But I’ve come to reason that winter is all about the food. I hate the cold, I’m a spring and summer kind of gal, but I get through winter because I celebrate the amazing food that just doesn’t work when the weather is warm. I was reminded of this a few days ago when I visited the ‘Whole Larder Love’ blog. The man is a genius and his love of the seasons and the simple life he has created, is so authentic. You can feel it through his velvety prose and his beautiful photos. Specifically, the ‘Buckets of Rain’ post sent me directly in to my kitchen with the intention of cloaking myself in the warm comfort foods of winter.

To start, Roast Chicken. What is there to say about Roast Chicken, except that it definitely deserves the capital letters I have given it. When someone says they are going home for Roast Chicken, I say ‘say no more, my friend’.

And from that humble, but joyful dinner comes more winter culinary joy. In the form of the Pie. Chicken and Mushroom Pie, to be precise. And today I give you mine. Serve it with mashed potato and peas and then tell me how much you love me. Because you will.

250 gr mushrooms – any type you feel like
the left over roast chicken, stripped off the carcass
three sheets of puff pastry (or make your own if you are feeling especially homey)
1/4 cup of plain flour
1/4 cup of olive oil
chicken stock (and preferably some gravy also saved from the roast)
a handful of fresh herbs (if you have them) – oregano, thyme, parsley

Preheat your oven to about 175C
Grease a pie dish (big enough to accommodate your left over chicken, or to feed your family)
Line the dish with pastry so it is ready to fill.
Put a sheet of pastry aside for the lid of the pie
Thinly slice your mushrooms and pan fry in olive oil or butter and set aside
Heat the olive oil till you can see its very runny
Add the flour and stir vigorously and turn down the heat if you need to
Once the flour and oil are combined, and look like a yellowish paste, add your stock, a little bit at a time. (If you have some gravy left from the roast, add this first and stir through until very thick, then start adding your stock).
Keep adding the stock each time the roux starts looking gluggy, stir and continue until you have cooked out the flour flavour and can just taste a lovely thick and smooth chicken-y roux.
Add your mushrooms, stir through then add your chicken.
Give it a good stir so it is well combined, then fill your pre-lined pie dish with this glorious concoction.
Add your pastry lid, brush the top with milk (to help it brown) and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until brown and daring you to eat it.

Pour yourself a large glass of Pinot Noir and enjoy your pie. You will visit that happy winter food place and for a minute, you’ll be glad its so cold outside.

What are you thoughts?