Chicken and Leek Pie

When I think of pie, my first thought is apple. I typically don’t associate pastry with savoury dishes. Brits, though, are crazy about their meat pies. You would think the country was built (an it may very well have been) on the three p’s: the pie, the pint, and the pasty. Ever since I have been surrounded by the phenomenon of the savoury pie, I have been tempted to try my hand at one, but I always held back. I think it may have been because pies don’t exactly look like the picture of culinary excellence and (I must admit) I always thought they looks rather bland and devoid of texture. That, however, is no excuse. Just because other people make bland, colourless pies doesn’t mean I would.My mantra when starting to dream up this recipe was to keep the flavours subtle but complementary. Despite the fact that I love food that gives you a big WHAM of flavour, I am trying to learn and appreciate the subtly of flavour you find in British food. Sticking to this plan, I picked three main complementary ingredients and tried not to mess with them too much. The results were splendid! This is not a recipe for a boring pie. Instead, it’s a comforting mixture of slightly varying textures (the crunchy pastry, the smooth mushrooms, and the meaty chicken) and smooth flavours that work well together. No, the flavour profile is not as in your face as it is for, say, a chilli con carne, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less delicious. Try it and you will agree.

Serves 6-8

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • ~ 2 cups milk
  • 2 cubes chicken stock
  • 1 onion
  • 2 leeks
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 tbsp buter
  • 200g mushrooms
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 2 tbsp regular flour or cornflour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • short crust pastry for one pie (about 500g)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
  2. Cut the chicken into strips and place in a saucepan with the bay leaves, a broken up chicken stock cube, and a few grinds pepper.
  3. Cover the chicken with milk and simmer for about 20 minutes until the chicken has cooked through.
  4. While the chicken is simmering away, finely dice the onions and garlic.
  5. Melt half the butter in a large frying pan and add the diced onion and garlic. This will be the base of the pie filling i.e. everything will be added to this which is why you need a large frying pan. If you don’t have a large enough pan, you can use a pot or dutch oven.
  6. As the onions are softening, peel and finely chop the carrots, and finely slice the leeks and mushrooms.
  7. Throw the remaining veg into the frying pan along with the remaining butter.
  8. Mix everything together and leave to cook over a medium low heat until everything is nice and soft, about 10 minutes.
  9. By now the chicken should be cooked. Fish the chicken strips out of the pot. Do NOT throw away the poaching milk, we will use it later.
  10. Making sure that the chicken is cooked, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
  11. Once the vegetables have softened up, add the chicken.
  12. Sprinkle the corn flour (you can use regular flour if you want) on top.
  13. Give everything a good mix and allow the cornflour to cook for 1-2 minutes. If you don’t let the flour cook, you will be left with a starchy flavour.
  14. Slowly strain the poaching milk into the frying pan stirring constantly to avoid a lumpy sauce.
  15. Stir the mustard into the pie filling.
  16. Continue to cook the filling over medium low until the sauce thickens.
  17. Meanwhile, split the pastry into two: one half for the base of the pie and the other for the top.
  18. Roll out half of the pastry until it is big enough to fill the bottom of a pie dish. I like to lightly flour pastry and then roll it out between two pieces of parchment (or wax) paper.
  19. Nudge the base of the pie into a pie dish being careful to avoid air bubbles.
  20. Pour the filling over the crust.
  21. Roll out the rest of the pastry and top the pie.
  22. Crimp the edges of the pastry together and cut a small hole in the middle to allow steam to escape.
  23. Bake the pie in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes then brush the top of the pie with some milk and bake for another 10 minutes. This will give the pie a nice golden top.
  24. Allow the pie to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
  25. Serve with some mashed potatoes and peas.
  26. Enjoy :)
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