My house is relatively gluten-free. We’re not celiacs, but a few of us have intolerances and sensitivities, and so we try to limit our intake. We’re not as rigorous with our gluten avoidance as we used to be, but my husband is quite a stickler, and so when I went to him and asked for an idea for my next self-imposed challenge, he said “make me a nice pie that doesn’t make me wonder what it would taste like if I were able to eat real pastry”.
So I thought about the good pies that were naturally gluten free, and I ended up with one – shepherd’s pie. But my issue with shepherd’s pie is that it looks like a dog’s dinner, and although it fills a cozy comfort-food niche, it’s not that gourmet, is it?
This is much better. Lots of instructions, but none of them technical or tricky. This pie is much easier than it looks.
- 4 large potatoes (approx), peeled and sliced very thinly (1 or 2 mm. You may wish to use a peeler or mandolin)
- 800g chicken fillets, sliced fairly thinly (approx 1/2 cm)
- 1 large leek, sliced thinly (approx 1/2 cm)
- 1 cup fresh peas
- 2 eggs
- 100ml thick cream
- fresh thyme
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- spray-on canola oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line the bottom of a non-stick pie tin with slices of potato, overlapping in a flower pattern and assuring there are no gaps. Spray with olive oil and salt well. Put in the oven to cook while you complete the next step.
- Sweat the leeks in a large pan on a medium heat on the cook-top with olive oil and butter until they are soft and very fragrant. (approx 10 minutes)
- Remove the pie tin from the oven. Layer another level of potato, this time extending to the sides of the tin. Ensure that there are no gaps, particularly at the corner between side and base. It doesn’t need to be as pretty in the centre as it will not be seen, but ensure sides are even and well overlapped, and protrude just past the height of the pan. Salt and oil as before, and place back in the oven.
- Add the chicken to the leeks, and continue to cook on a medium heat until sealed nicely (a few minutes), then add thyme sprigs and peas and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Combine eggs and cream and beat very well. Turn off the heat under the chicken, then add the cream mixture slowly, stirring through well.
- Remove the pie tin from the oven. Pour the chicken mix in carefully, ensuring the sides are not disturbed. Finally, cover with a final layer of potato, salt and spray over oil, then place in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the top layer of potato is cooked.
- Allow the pie to cool for approximately 5-10 minutes before removing carefully from the pan.
- The potato on this pie is crisp. If you prefer a softer version, I suggest you par-cook the potatoes before slicing, and halve the oven cook-time. If you like the potato very crisp, you may wish to place it under the grill for the last minute or two of cooking.
- I used a Pyrex 28cm Quiche pan (link here), which is particularly non-stick, and has a pop-out base. This makes removing a delicate pie easier.
- The pie could be filled with almost anything. You could try it with beef stew, a traditional quiche filling, mediterranean vegetables and morsels of mozzerella, or anything really. Remember that the egg helps to set the cream, so if you are not including egg, ensure your filling is not too liquid or has something that will set the filling, or you will never get it out of the pan successfully.