My first-ever and enduring pie, filled with bold, beautiful flavours and lots of love.

INGREDIENTS:

1 kg chicken thigh fillets
50 g butter
olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh or dried thyme
2 tablespoons fresh or dried tarragon
sea salt and black pepper
2 leeks
1 diced onion
2 tablespoons good-quality seeded mustard
2 tablespoons flour
150 ml dry white wine
300 ml thickened cream
3 sheets puff pastry
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Serves 4-6

METHOD:

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 180°C. Prepare your chicken by trimming the fillets of fat and dicing them into 1.5 cm squares. It’s laborious, but worth using this cut, as breast fillets will be far too dry. Warm a large, heavy-based pot and fry the chicken in about a tablespoon of butter and a little oil. Keep the heat to medium so as not to burn the chicken. After a couple of minutes, add a tablespoon each of thyme and tarragon and season well. Cook until the chicken is just sealed. It should be white in colour and not golden. Set the chicken aside in a bowl, with all of its juices.

Step 2: Prepare the leeks by cutting them into 1 cm-thick slices. Ensure that you use the white part only and that each slice is washed well. Give the pot a wipe and on a medium to high heat, add the remaining butter, onion and leek. Fry for about 8-10 minutes or until the leek is soft, translucent and coming apart. Keep stirring during this time so that the mixture doesn’t burn.

Step 3: Add the mustard and stir for about a minute, then add the flour. Stir well with a wooden spoon so the mixture becomes thick and the flour cooks through without burning. Add the wine and then the cream. You can use a bit of milk here instead of, or as part of, the cream quantity required. Mix well to combine and so that the cream heats through, then return the chicken with juices to the pot. Mix for about a minute, then have a taste. At this point I will add another tablespoon (at least!) of tarragon, seasoning and sometimes extra mustard, as I like the flavour to be quite intense.

Step 4: Once you are happy, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool — completely. Just before you are ready to get this into the oven, place a sheet of pastry onto a greased pie dish. Mine is a round, 34cm dish, but any dish of similar proportions is fine. You can also use shortcrust pastry for the base. I like to blind bake the base for about 10 minutes to ensure it doesn’t become soggy. Make sure you poke some holes into the pastry beforehand and that you have some overhang, as the pastry will shrink.

Step 5: Pour the filling over the pastry base and smooth out. Place another sheet of pastry over the top of the filling and use a third sheet of pastry to cut odds and ends from, in order to cover the filling. Join the top and bottom edges of the pastry together and press together. Feel free to get a little creative here. Make a little cross in the centre of the pastry to let the steam escape. Mix the egg and milk together to make the egg wash, then paste this over the pastry. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and then bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Délicieuse!


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