Chicken and Leek Pie

Chicken and Leek Pie

What is November without a good pie? Cold, that’s what. Is there really any better internal heating system that a plate full of hot bubbling creamy chicken and sweet leeks adorned with a crisp and flaky buttered hat? The best part of any pie is of course where the lid meets the sauce, so that the puff pastry becomes chewy and saturated with all the beautiful flavours.

I have been making this pie for years, it’s a complete crowd and family pleaser, equally at home as part of a special mid-week treat or pride of place at a small supper gathering. It is chock full of chicken flavour because you poach a whole chicken with a host of vegetables to cook the chicken off first, then use the deliciousy deep stock as the base of the pie filling, thickened with flour then finished off with a generous amount of crème fraiche. Using crème fraiche instead of cream is second nature to me as I am a complete crème fraiche addict. I love the way it adds richness but is its own tempering agent, adding a tang which is complimented here by the addition of lemon zest and tarragon. You won’t need all the stock produced for the pie filling but that’s all the better so you have it to hand for your next recipe.

Chicken and Leek Pie

There are a few steps involved in this pie which is why I have absolutely no qualms about using shop bought puff pastry. Although it does have to be the all-butter variety which considering is what most recipes will ask you to use is quite hard to get. The supermarkets all sell the just-rol standard puff but that really isn’t good enough as it uses vegetable oil in place of butter and the pastry just doesn’t have the same quality. All the big supermarkets do stock the all-butter variety, it’s just that it sells out very quickly. If you get the ready rolled all-butter puff pastry then you really will be laughing.

Chicken and Leek Pie

Don’t feel that you have to do all the steps of the pie at once either. Poach the chieken the day before, or make the filling the day before. It’s a recipe that can happily be broken down into manageable chunks.

Chicken and Leek Pie

Of course the obligatory accompaniment to pie is quite obviously mashed potato but don’t let that become your go-to every time. I love a bit of white rice with this pie, especially if you serve it with a mound of buttered broccoli. If you are going the mash route then make sure you don’t forget the greenery, shredded savoy cabbage with a glistening diamond of butter on the top. For a lighter meal then forgo the carbs entirely, as long as you have the greens to eat with your pie then you’ll be a happy camper.

Chicken and Leek Pie

Chicken and Leek Pie
Serves 6

Poached Chicken and fresh stock ingredients

1 whole chicken
2 x bay leaves
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
A handful of fresh parsley stalks
2 cloves garlic
1 large onion, cut in half
1 leek, cut in half
2 large carrots, cut in half
2 sticks celery, cut in half
¾ teaspoon salt
6 black peppercorns

Pie ingredients

1 large onion, diced
1 stick celery, diced
2 leeks, halved lengthways then chopped finely into semi circles
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon butter
1teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon lemon zest
3 heaped tablespoons sweet rice flour
A good splash of vermouth
400ml stock from the poached chicken
The chicken from the poached chicken
150ml crème fraiche
a pinch of cloves
a pinch of nutmeg
320g ready rolled gluten-free puff pastry
1 egg

Poaching the chicken

  1. Take the whole chicken and remove giblets and string if it has them. Place the chicken in a large stockpot along with the onion, the leek, the carrots and the celery. Also pop in the garlic cloves, bay leaves, thyme and parsley stalks.
  2. Fill the stockpot with cold water so that it covers the chicken, throw in a fair amount of salt and black pepper and bring to the boil. Leave the chicken to simmer for between 50 minutes – 1 hour depending on how large the chicken is.
  3. Remove the chicken from the stock and leave until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile leave the stock simmering for a further 1 hour depending on how much time you have so that the flavours further intensify.
  4. Whilst the stock is continuing to simmer away, shred the chicken away from the bones. Discard the skin and all the bones. Set the meat aside until you need it.
  5. Once the stock is ready, remove from the heat, strain and discard the vegetables. Set the stock aside until you need it.

The Pie

  1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan until the butter has melted. Fry the onion and celery gently for about 15 minutes or when the veggies go translucent. Add the leeks, garlic, lemon zest, the tarragon, some fresh thyme leaves and the bay leaf to the pan. Give everything a good stir then continue to fry gently for 15 minutes or until the leeks are softened.
  2. Add the flour and mix well into the leeks until all the flour has been absorbed by the mixture. Stir continually with a wooden spoon letting the flour cook through for a few minutes. The mixture should be quite sticky with no buttery liquid left in the pan.
  3. Pour in the vermouth and continue stirring for a couple of minutes until the wine has been absorbed.
    If the stock which you made when you poached the chicken has cooled, reheat on the stove. When it’s boiling pour about 400ml of it into the pan. Turn the heat of the pan up high and continually stir quite hard so all the lumps in the flour dissolve into the stock. Once the flour has dissolved, the mixture is thick and bubbling at a nice consistency, turn the heat down to simmer.
  4. Now switch the oven on to 180°C.
  5. Simmer for 5-10 minutes then add the poached chicken and the crème fraiche. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Simmer for about 10 minutes to let the flavours get to know each other then turn off the heat and pour into a 20cm round and deep pie dish
  7. Take the puff pastry and cut a thick strip to place on top of the lip of your pie dish. Then place the rest of the pastry on top, cutting away the excess. Tuck onto the pie filling and pinch to the pastry on the lip of the dish.
  8. Whisk the egg and then brush over the top of the pie.
  9. Place the pie in the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry top is golden brown.

Comments

  1. Leah Mitchell says:

    I made this amzingness last weekend, and it rocked out worlds. We decided this recipe is coming to wales with us for our new year getaway!,

    • Thank you so much Leah, it’s lovely to receive comments like yours. It’s one of my favourites too so I was so pleased to share it on my blog.

  2. Hello! This looks outstanding. Just wondering – do you think it would it be good with a layer of puff pastry underneath the filling too? Trying to maximize the buttery goodness. I’ve never made a savory pie like this before and have no experience to draw on.

    • Yes puff pastry underneath would work as well. If you are going that route then I would suggest blind baking the bottom of the pie crust first, perhaps place aluminium foil on top which will stop the pastry from puffing up too much. Then after it has baked you can pile the filling on top and add the top crust, following the rest of the outlined method. Let me know if try it out and how you get on!

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