Rosemary Shrager, Judge
Favourite family meal: Chicken and potato pie (serves 6-8)
This is one recipe my husband Michael and all our family adore — it’s the cheapest thing in the world, so simple, and utterly delicious.
I was in Cornwall and loved pasties, so I created this from crossing a pasty with a traditional French potato dish. I’ve been making it for 30 years — I made it for our children Tom and Kate when they were young, and now our grandchildren are always asking for it whenever they come to visit.
We’ve always eaten at the table as a family together, and my children learnt to cook with me when they were young. I was brought up on home-cooked meals my mother made, we used to grow our own vegetables and had our own animals like chicken and rabbits.
We’d eat very traditional old-school “British” food like tripe and onions and fish pies, but now, what we consider to be a quintessentially British dish has changed, and people embrace cultural differences in this country and are much more experimental in the kitchen.
What’s got worse is that families just don’t cook together as much anymore. People live a different sort of life today, and parents and grandparents haven’t had time to pass on their old techniques to their families.
Making this series, though, it was wonderful to show that British food isn’t just Yorkshire pudding and roast beef, it was fascinating to see the diversity of the cuisine, and to pick up some tips. You never stop learning in cooking, especially when it comes to flavours and techniques.
500g puff pastry
4 large chicken breasts, boned and cut into thin strips
720g peeled potatoes, thinly sliced (it is easier to slice the potatoes finely if you use a mandolin)
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 tbsp tarragon leaves
2 tbsp chives, chopped
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
240ml double cream
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Turn the potatoes in half the butter over a gentle heat until they are just tender — don’t let them brown. Remove them from the pan and allow them to cool in a large bowl.
2. Meanwhile, soften the shallots in the remaining butter and add the herbs and chicken, turning it over a steady heat for a few minutes until it is partially cooked. Mix it all carefully with the potatoes, season to taste, and again allow it to cool.
3. Roll half the pastry into a circle about 36cm in diameter and put it straight onto a lightly buttered baking tray. It helps to have a baking mat, in which case don’t bother to butter the tray but put the pastry directly onto the mat. Brush the edges with egg yolk then pile the mixture in the middle.
4. Roll the rest of the pastry into a slightly larger circle and cover the pie with it, sealing and crimping the edges. Cut a little circle in the top (about 10cm diameter) to make a lid, leaving it in place. Brush the whole surface with the rest of the egg yolk.
5. Bake the pie for about 50 minutes, checking that it’s not too brown — in which case turn the oven down slightly. Heat the cream. Take the pie out of the oven, remove the lid and pour in the boiling cream, lifting the mixture gently to allow it to permeate the pie. Return it to the oven for 10 minutes.
The Big Family Cooking Showdown airs on Tuesdays at 8pm on BBC2