Our take on a classic chicken and leek pie using the whole bird (no waste!). Beautifully tender chunks of chicken coated in a creamy sauce topped with a crunchy thyme short crust pastry. An incredibly decadent and warming pie, sophisticated enough for grown ups and mild enough for the youngsters. This is sure to become a family favourite.
Prep time 40 minutes
Cook 2 hours 20 minutes (plus resting, cooling, standing)
- 1.6kg whole chicken
- 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
- 2 leeks, white parts thinly sliced, green parts reserved to poach the chicken
- 8 thyme sprigs
- 4 tarragon sprigs
- 3 bacon rashers, rind removed, chopped
- 50g butter, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, ﬁnely chopped
- 45g plain (all-purpose) ﬂour
- 100ml dry white wine
- 125g (½ cup) crème fraiche or sour cream
- Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
- 1 egg yolk whisked with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
Thyme short crust pastry:
- 500g chilled butter, chopped
- 3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and ﬁnely chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2–3 tablespoons iced water
Serving suggestion: serve with a crisp green salad, dressed with your favourite vinaigrette
NOTE :You can use ready-made puff pastry instead of making the short crust pastry if you like.
1. Put the chicken in a stockpot with the carrot, celery, green parts of the leek and the stalks of the herbs (reserve the leaves for the pie ﬁlling). Cover with cold water to submerge the chicken and place a plate on top. Bring to a simmer over medium–high heat and cook for 20–25 minutes. Cool the chicken in the poaching liquid for 2 hours, then remove and coarsely shred the meat (discard the sinews, skin and bones).
2. Strain the poaching liquid into a large saucepan, discarding the solids, and boil over medium–high heat for 20–25 minutes until reduced to 500 ml (2 cups). Strain and set aside.
3. To make the thyme short crust pastry, combine the ﬂour, butter, thyme and salt in a food processor and process until it resembles ﬁne crumbs. Add the egg, yolk and the iced water and pulse to bring dough together; add a little extra water if necessary. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Pastry can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated until required.
4. Fry the bacon in a large enameled cast-iron casserole over medium–high heat for 3–4 minutes to render the fat, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a bowl.
5. Add the butter to the casserole and cook until foaming, then add the white parts of the leek and the thyme leaves. Sauté for 5–6 minutes until tender, adding the garlic in the last minute of cooking. Stir in the ﬂour and cook, stirring, for 1–2 minutes until it has a sandy texture. Gradually add the poaching liquid and the wine, then the crème fraiche, stirring until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 2–3 minutes until thickened.
6. Remove from the heat, stir in the chicken meat, bacon, tarragon leaves and lemon zest until well combined. Check the seasoning. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate to chill completely. The ﬁlling can be made up to 2 days in advance.
7. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out just over half the pastry on a lightly ﬂoured work surface to 3mm thick and line a lightly buttered 25cm diameter pie tin, allowing the edges to overhang. Spoon in the chicken ﬁlling and brush pastry edges with egg wash.
8. Roll out the remaining pastry to 3mm thick, lay it over the pastry, cut a few vents in the pastry lid to let steam escape, brush with egg wash and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside for 15 minutes before serving.