I’ve had a hankering for comfort food again. Comfort food to me is largely about chicken pie. It’s chicken pie because it’s what we used to pick up from the bakery after ego schooling netball games on chilblain cold Saturday mornings.  It’s chicken pie because it’s duvet food. Not because you want to eat it in bed (crumbs etc), but because it comes with its own double duvet. First there’s the creamy blanket of the sauce. These days I tend to go with a slow carb emulsion of either a chickpea flour bechamel, or a silky puree of white beans, dijon and milk. And then there’s the pastry. The crisp, crack of a crust and the plume of steam that escapes from within it spells everything that is ok. It’s a herald of clean sheets and enough wine in the cellar, sleeping children and deadlines met.

This was the pie I was craving yesterday. It had been a big week. During TEDxSydney we ate some extraordinary things. There were bugs and mealworms, ants on smoked ice creams, cakes fashioned from cauliflower and beetroot and beasts basted with coffee grounds and spices that twirled next to the Harbour Bridge.

 

 

There were long days, exciting nights, then grottily sick offspring, early starts and tedious hours spent on plastic chairs in medical centres. Soon after patient zero shared his virus with the rest of the clan. If ever there was a time for the simple things; pie and a quiet night on the couch, this is it.

Yet pie isn’t the easiest thing to achieve if you’re steering clear of the carbs. Enter, this buckwheat and chia pastry.

It borrows the nutty flavours of a Breton crepe, or an Luxembourg dumplings and puts them to honest work. Buckwheat is a boon for those who cannot digest gluten, or are looking for a lower GI option to wheat. Rather than a grain, buckwheat is actually a seed, related to sorrel and rhubarb. Rather than a disappointing shale, crumble that is impossible to work with, chia seeds get blitzed along with the flour which along with the addition of egg help bind it all together. The end texture is stable, allowing it to easily be rolled and shaped.

And the genius thing about it is how easily it can transform any casserole into a pie. Because really, that’s all you need. It’s not rocket science. Take any of your favourite chicken casseroles or braises (chicken thighs will work better than breasts and anything with a creamy sauce helps the indulgence factor). Sometimes I lean on this chicken, artichoke and parmesan one, other times I’ve turned to this chicken, mushroom and sweet potato. Last night it was leek, chicken thighs, a little bacon and Tuscan kale. Then add pastry. You don’t need the base. There’s every chance it’ll turn soggy or be left behind in the dish. Just portion your braise, roll on a lid, get crafty with decorations if you need some therapy or something to distract a toddler and bake it for half an hour.

Later, add some mushy peas on the side, or a nice crisp salad. Pour yourself a glass of wine. And make a swift plan to find your way from the table, to somewhere with a real duvet sometime very soon.

Buckwheat and Chia Pastry

Makes enough pastry for a 22 cm tart bottom or pie lid. This would also work well as a base for a savoury galette. If using in sweet baking, omit the salt in the mix.

Shopping/foraging

150 g buckwheat flour (or flour made from 150 g of buckwheat groats)
20 g chia seeds
50 g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 egg
1 tsp sea salt flakes
2 tbsp cold water

 

Here’s how we roll

1) If you don’t already have buckwheat flour, blitz the buckwheat and the chia seeds together in a powerful blender for 30 seconds- a minute until you have a fine grain. If you do have buckwheat flour, add the chia seeds and blend together for 30 seconds to help break them down.

2) Add the cubed cold butter and blitz together in short bursts, until you have a fine rubble and the butter is evenly distrubuted.

3) Add the egg.

4) Blitz until the mixture comes together in clumps.

 5) Turn the clumpy mix out onto a clean board and bring together with your hands. Knead gently, just enough to bring the pastry together into a cohesive whole.

6) Flatten the pastry into a disc and allow to rest, covered  in the fridge for 30 minutes.

7) Roll the pastry out into your desired shape, starting at the centre and working outwards.

8) Line your tart tin or top your pie.

9) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is crisp.