Food blogger, Lo Corcoran of Lo’s Kitchen shares the recipe for her comforting curried chicken pie, highlighting the importance of being neighbourly whilst reminiscing on her childhood.
‘Sharing a fence’
I still remember our neighbours growing up. On one side there was Toula. A warm and bubbly Greek woman who lived there with her husband George and their pet cat. Said cat would occasionally take a break from bathing in the sun to proudly tight rope walk the fence, much to our delight. They’d host parties under the pergola and roast lamb on the barbie. To this day I still love the way the name “Tuuu-la” rolls off the tongue.
Gareth and Moira lived on the other side. Gareth worked for Selley’s and invented the wonder cloth. He kept Mum in samples for years and she’s still a fan to this day. One day Gareth decided that he wanted to renovate and painstakingly used a razor blade to chip off the paint on the ceiling in the dining room. Unhappy with the job, he demolished and built a new home. Pete used to spend hours peering over the fence as the builders came and went.
We’ve lived next door to Brian. A life long bachelor and mad keen golfer, Corks would often crack a cold beer with him as a way of saying thank you for mowing our side of the nature strip. Brian was good mates with our dog, Blue and didn’t seem to notice when our annual chrissie party got a bit rowdy and an esky was hurled over his back fence. Whoopsie daise.
We’ve lived next door to a school principal who signed me up for some casual work on the spot and you couldn’t forget our neighbours in Culburra, Pete and Leslie, who love nothing more than to share friendly rugby league banter with Grandad; them being big bunnies supporters and all. 2021 Grand Final score: Panthers 14, Bunnies 12. Just saying.
I’ve heard stories of Case making biccies to leave on her neighbours doorsteps in her apartment building up in Sydney during the first lockdown last year.
Elles belles knows her caramel slice recipe off by heart from all the times she drops off care packages to her neighbours for their patience with them building a new house. And Ali gets given eggs from the beautiful lady next door who can’t keep up with her chickens.
Good neighbours and ‘neighbourly vibes’ can make or break a home don’t you think.
In Boorowa, we’re lucky to have lots of ‘neighbours’ even if that doesn’t actually involve sharing a fence. You may live in the same street or a couple of kilometres away.
Friends of ours have fruit trees so abundant that you can drive down their back lane and pick pears over the fence without even needing to get out of the car. There’s the beautiful little George who spends his after school hours pushing his Dad’s old mower up and down the lawns of Market Street and I’m always texting Kirsty for some paprika, tomato sauce, or whatever I’ve run out of that day.
And in this worrying and isolating covid-y time in which we’re still living in, nothing says “I’m thinking of you” more than some home made tucker. We give in times of need. When someone has a baby, is sick or has lost a loved one. There shouldn’t have to be a reason to give; to brighten up someone’s day.
You know how food tastes really good when you’re hungry? Cork Daddy opened his lunch box up in the yards the other day while helping his uncle Rob jet some sheep. Hot, thirsty and a bit over it, he offered him what was in there. “Yeah ta”, he said as he reached for what Corks was holding out. “What have we got here?” “Tuna balls. Lo makes them for the kids”. “They’re delicious”.
So it doesn’t really matter what you decide to share, a chicken pie, some fresh fruit off a tree or a smelly little tuna ball. It’s the thought that counts.
curried chicken pie
This curried chicken pie makes for the ultimate winter meal served with some mashed potato and steamed vege. It’s easy to make and tastes delicious. Perfect to pop on your neighbours’ doorstep.
1 x kilo of chicken thigh fillets, chopped in to small pieces
1 x brown onion, finely diced
3 x garlic cloves, crushed
2 x stems of celery, finely diced
1 x carrot, finely diced
2 x heaped tablespoons of plain flour
1 x teaspoon of curry powder
1 x teaspoon of powdered chicken stock
A sprinkling of paprika
A sprinkling of dried tarragon or thyme (or use fresh if you’re lucky enough to have it)
Water from the kettle
A dash of olive oil
Canola oil spray
3 x sheets of frozen puff pastry
1 x egg, to be used as the egg wash
Optional: diced bacon can be added when browning the onion
- Add a dash of oil to a large heavy based pan and sauté the onion, garlic, celery and carrot until soft.
- Add the chicken and brown. Season with salt and pepper here.
- Throw in the curry powder, flour, powdered stock and paprika and cook off, whilst stirring for a minute or so.
- Next add enough water from the kettle to cover the mixture and bring to a boil.
- Back the heat right off, add the herbs and cook over a very low simmer for at least an hour (longer if you can). Note: You’ll have to keep an eye on the chicken, adding more water when needed and stirring to make sure that it’s not catching on the bottom. You can always transfer the mixture to a slow cooker and let it go for hours if you want.
- Once the chicken is cooked nicely, let it cool.
- To assemble the pie, you want to blind bake the pastry (this step helps it to stay nicely golden on the bottom so that you don’t have a sloppy pastry crust.) Spray your pie dish with canola oil spray and cover the base with a layer of puff pastry. Place a piece of baking paper over the top and pour in ceramic baking beads (failing that, pour in a cup or so of uncooked rice which will do the same thing) and bake the pie crust for roughly 10-15 minutes in a hot oven. This is basically just giving the pastry a head start. (Note: the baking beads and/or the rice is used to hold the pastry down as it naturally wants to ‘puff’ up when cooked).
- Next, pour the chicken mixture in to the pastry shell and arrange more pastry over the top, crimping the edges together. Prick the pastry with a fork (for the air to escape) and using the pastry brush, top with a beaten egg (which will ensure the pastry has that nice shiny look about it).
- Bake in a hot oven (about 220℃) for 10 minutes and then back off to 180℃ and cook until nicely browned (approx another 20 minutes).
- Serve with some mashed potato and steamed greens.
If you make this pie, please leave your comments below. xx