A delicious chicken pie to feed the whole family. The chicken and leek filing is tasty and moist, topped with ready-made puff pastry.
- 1.5kg (3lb) free-range chicken
- 1 carrot, peeled, cut into chunks
- 2 celery sticks, cut into chunks
- 2 onions, peeled and chopped
- 2 bay leaf
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 leeks, trimmed and sliced thickly
- 150g (5oz) bacon lardons, smoked or unsmoked
- 60g (2oz) butter
- 60g (2oz) plain flour
- 3 tbs crème fraîche, optional
- 1 tbs coarse-grain mustard
- A few thyme sprigs
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 375g pack ready-made puff pastry
- A little beaten egg
- 1.5-2 litre (2½-3½ pints) pie dish
Put the chicken in a large pot with the carrots, celery and an onion. Add a bay leaf and pour in enough cold water to cover. Put a lid on the pan, bring to the boil, then simmer, uncovered, for about 45 mins until the chicken meat starts to fall off the bone.
Take the chicken out and set aside for about 20 mins. Put the pan back on the heat, bring the stock to the boil and simmer for an hour to reduce it. As soon as the chicken is cool enough to handle, take the meat off the bones and add the bones to the stockpot for extra flavour.
Heat the oil in another pan, and add the other onion and leeks. Fry for about 5 mins, stirring. Add the bacon and fry for 5 mins more. Put into pie dish with bite-sized chunks of chicken.
Add the butter and flour to the pan, and cook, stirring to make a paste. Remove bones before gradually adding 600ml (1 pint) of the hot chicken stock to make a smooth sauce. Let it boil for a couple of mins, then add the crème fraîche, if using, and the mustard, the other bay leaf, thyme leaves and seasoning. Pour over chicken and leeks in the dish and stir well. Leave to cool.
Roll out the pastry just a little larger than the top of the pie dish and cut out. Brush the edge of the dish with egg, fit some trimmings round it, then put the cut-out pastry on top. Press down well to seal, trim off excess pastry and roughen up edges. Roll out trimmings to make decorative “leaves”. Make a small hole in the top and arrange the “leaves” on the pastry top. Chill the pie while the oven heats up.
Set the oven to Gas Mark 6 or 200°C. Heat a baking sheet in it. Brush pastry with egg. Put the dish on the baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 mins until the pastry is golden and the filling bubbling up.
This pie can be made in advance and frozen. To freeze before baking, wrap the pie in cling film. Defrost in the fridge overnight, brush with egg and cook as above adding about an extra 10 minutes.