Chicken and Leek Pie: Pie Week

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Chicken and Leek Pie: Pie Week

A recipe taken from Leiths ‘How to Cook’ to celebrate National Pie Week


Serves 4

For the chicken and poaching liquor
1 chicken, about 1.3kg
1 onion
1 carrot
1 celery stick
2 parsley sprigs
6 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pie
250g puff pastry
1 small onion
1 leek
Small handful of chives
40g butter
30g plain flour
50ml white wine or Marsala
5 tbsp crème fraîche
1 egg, beaten


  1. Put the chicken into a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over a low to medium heat and slowly bring to the boil. Halve, peel and slice the onion, peel and slice the carrot, de-string and slice the celery and add it all to the pan, along with the parsley, peppercorns, bay leaves and some salt.
  2. As the water comes to the boil, turn the heat down and cover with a damp cartouche and a tight-fitting lid. Poach the chicken gently for 1–1¼ hours; it is cooked when the legs feel loose and wobbly and the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.
  3. While the chicken is poaching, roll out the pastry until 3–4mm thick and about 5cm larger than the pie dish all round. Cut strips from the edge that together will line the lip of the pie dish. Put all the pastry on a baking sheet, cover and chill.
  4. Halve, peel and finely dice the onion. Slice the leek into 1cm thick rounds and finely chop enough chives to give you 1 tbsp.
  5. When the chicken is cooked, take the pan off the heat. Let the chicken cool a little in the liquor, then remove it and allow to cool completely. Strain the cooking liquor, discarding the vegetables and herbs, and pour it back into the rinsed out saucepan. Carefully skim off the fat, then reduce until it has a concentrated flavour or until 350–400ml remains. Set aside for the sauce.
  6. Once the chicken is completely cool, remove any skin, fat, gristle and bone. Break the chicken into large bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  7. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion and leek and sweat for 8–10 minutes, or until soft and transparent. Add the flour and cook for 3–4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the wine, then about half of the reduced liquor. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the remaining liquor in generous additions. Bring to the boil, stirring, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the chives and crème fraîche, taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
  8. Add the chicken to the cold sauce and turn the pieces to coat evenly. Put the filling into a 1–1.2 litre pie dish, making sure there is enough filling to support the pastry lid (if not, use a pie funnel to do so). Press the pastry strips onto the rim of the dish and brush with a little beaten egg. Carefully position the pastry lid on top and press gently to join the edges. Trim off the excess pastry.
  9. Cut out some leaves (or other shapes) from the pastry trimmings. Knock up the pastry with the back of a knife and scallop the edges. Make a hole in the centre of the lid to allow steam to escape and arrange any leaves on top of the pie. Brush the pastry with beaten egg. Stand the dish on a baking sheet and chill for 15–20 minutes. Heat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6.
  10. Before baking, brush again with beaten egg. Bake in the top of the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until the pastry is risen and golden and the filling piping hot.

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