Creamy chicken and leek pie

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Now I’m not normally one for a savoury bake but this weekend for our Sunday dinner I decided to try something a little different. After investigating the deepest depths of the fridge and freezer and finding some chicken and leeks I decided chicken and leek pie would make a change from our usual Sunday roast dinner. I don’t usually have the time to make anything as involved as we are usually out and about on the weekends but lockdown has meant that life is lived at a more leisurely pace so I decided to give it a go. I’d saved this Hairy Bikers’ recipe a little while ago and had the ingredients it needed so off I went!

The original recipe uses ham as well however this was the one thing we didn’t have so I decided to swap this for a couple of rashers of bacon. The recipe states that it will serve 4 however I would say it would probably feed 6 as it’s packed full of filling (especially if you’re serving it with a variety of accompaniments as we did). You will need a 23cm/9in round pie dish. I’m normally a bit scared of making anything involving pastry but actually this was easy to make and relatively easy to handle. I was pretty proud of the end result (and it got the seal of approval from one of my girls which I’ll take as a small victory!)

Ingredients:
For the filling
450ml (16fl oz) chicken stock
3 chicken breasts (skin removed)
75g (2¾oz) butter
2 leeks (trimmed and cut into 1cm (½in) slices)
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
55g (2oz) plain flour
200ml (7fl oz) milk
2–3 tablespoons white wine (optional)
150ml (5fl oz) double cream
150g (5½oz) piece thickly carved ham (cut into 2cm (¾in) chunks)
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

For the pastry
350g (12oz) plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
200g (7oz) butter
1 free-range egg, beaten with 1 tbsp cold water, plus 1 free-range egg, beaten, to glaze

Method:
1) Heat the chicken stock in a lidded saucepan. Add the chicken breast and bring to a low simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts from the water with tongs and place on a plate. Pour the cooking liquor into a large jug.

2) Melt 25g (1oz) of the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Stir in the leeks and fry gently for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally until just softened (this is also when I added the bacon I was using). Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the remaining butter and stir in the flour as soon as the butter has melted. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

3) Slowly pour the milk into the pan, just a little at a time, stirring well between each adding. Gradually add 250ml (10fl oz) of the reserved stock and the wine, if using, stirring until the sauce is smooth and thickened slightly. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 3 minutes (don’t worry if it seems a little runny when you’ve added everything in, it will thicken back up).

4) Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Pour into a large bowl and cover the surface of the sauce with cling film to prevent a skin forming. Set aside to cool.

5) Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Put a baking tray in the oven to heat.
6) For the pastry, put the flour and butter in a food processor and blend on the pulse setting until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the motor running, add the beaten egg and water and blend until the mixture forms a ball. Portion off 250g (9oz) pastry for the lid.

7) Roll the remaining pastry out on a lightly floured surface, turning the pastry frequently until around 5mm (¼in) thick and 4cm (1½in) larger than the pie dish. Lift the pastry over the rolling pin and place it gently into the pie dish. Press the pastry firmly up the sides, making sure there are no air bubbles (don’t worry if it cracks or breaks – you can just push it back together). Leave the excess pastry overhanging the sides.

8) Cut the chicken breasts into 3cm (1¼in) pieces. Stir the chicken and ham (if using) into the cooled sauce. Pour the chicken filling into the pie dish. Brush the rim of the dish with beaten egg.

9) Roll out the reserved pastry for the lid. Cover the pie with the pastry lid and press the edges together firmly to seal. Trim any excess pastry.

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10) Make a small hole in the centre of the pie with the tip of a knife. Glaze the top of the pie with beaten egg.

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11) Bake on the preheated tray in the centre of the oven for 35–40 minutes, or until the pie is golden brown all over and the filling is piping hot.

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