Ah, plane food.
Such a constellation of delights. This is a story about one of them.
Granted, I wasn’t in the greatest of moods when we started our 28 hour commute from Sydney to London. We travel lots, but I’m yet to master being charming all the time while being squeezed into a metal tube flinging through the sky. That morning I’d managed to pincer in one last swim Bondi and a coffee at Allpress. But I’d also dispensed to my mum, dad and best friends final hugs for quite a stretch.
In case you haven’t tweaked; I’m TERRIBLE at good byes.
I had my system for making it through the flight all worked out. Four pm flight, arriving in Abu Dhabi at some godforsaken hour, then onwards to London. I’ll stay awake for the first half, watch a terrible film with The Hungry One (Real Steel- Hugh Jackman and boxing robots should give you some idea of the quality). Have a glass of red wine, change out of my jeans into my comfortable yoga pants, contemplate dinner and take a sleeping pill.
I don’t normally eat much on planes. But just as I lose my taste in film up in the air (yes, I really did choose to watch What’s my number over Drive )- when it came to dinner, I lost my way a bit.
It was the promise of a chicken pie that got me. There it was, written on flimsy piece of DL with our flight plan; ‘Chicken pie with peas’.
Most people who know me know my love of a good chicken pie surpasses reason. The kind of reason that would lead a person on solid ground to interrogate how on earth they’re going to secure crisp pastry under foil.
Let’s keep it brief and say it proved a disappointment.
Fast forward 11 more hours. Arriving into London at 6 am involves a variety of transitions. From plane to customs, night to day, the warmth of the southern hemisphere to the nip of the north. But the greatest change is from the noise of family and friends to the hush of an empty flat; with the front door buttressed shut with dropped mail.
So I slip into a familiar routine for settling in ; pop to the shop. Buy a few bits and pieces to pad out the fridge. Make a cup of tea. Put the first load of washing on. Plug in the computer. Put the passports away. Have a shower. And then; roast a chicken.
It’s for the warmth and the smell as much as anything. I struggle to think of anything as comforting as the wafting aroma of a bronzing bird.
Except the prospect of using its flesh to make a pie- the kind of pie I really wanted.
Just one more reason why it’s nice to be back on solid ground.
Welcome home roast chicken and pea pie
I’d rather one good cap of flaky pastry than suffer the sadness of a soggy bottom- so I use a ramekin as a container. This is a doddle of a cheat’s pie. The pastry is frozen and the sauce is just a muddling of liquids with a hint of interest from the mustard, while the peas (also frozen) add a lick of sweetness.
1 ramekin. 1 bowl.
1/2 cup of cooked chicken (roasted, poached or bbq that’s been bought from a shop) cut into chunks half size of a wine cork
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon of creme fraiche or double cream
1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of toasted nuts (I like almonds and pine nuts)
1 tablespoon of chopped flat leaf parsley
1/3 sheet of frozen puff pastry
Salad leaves to serve
Here’s how we roll
1. Preheat the oven to 230 C
2. Combine together the chicken, frozen peas, parsley, creme fraiche, mustard, parsley and toasted nuts.
3. Transfer mixture to a ramekin and season with salt and pepper.
4. Cut out a circle of puff pastry that’s 1 cm in diameter larger than your ramekin. Press the pastry over the top, make a novelty shape from the scraps and add two small slits to allow the steam to escape.
5. Brush the top of the pastry with a little milk or cream.
6. Bake the pie for 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Serve with a green leaf salad.
7. Stare out the window while you eat and contemplate being back in London.