This seems a bit of a bold statement but has been verified by at least 10 of my children’s inner circle. And my husband, so it must be true. This recipe has evolved over the years to give a vitamin and vegetable packed heirloom recipe pie, bursting with flavour and goodness. A few of the veg are disguised to avoid the inevitable suspicious poking through the plate routine. The recipe is just a guide – don’t sweat it if you don’t have all the ingredients in their exact form – swap lardons for ham, etc..
The pie should be full of succulent big chunks of slow roasted chicken, torn, not sliced. This is your chance to get more vegetables into them – the children never seem to mind lots of veg on the side of this, drizzled with the creamy, foaming leek sauce. Serve with buttered young carrots, garlic wilted spinach, purple sprouting broccoli, peas, steamed fine beans with garlic, sweetcorn or anything in season. A few crispy roasted potatoes on the side always find a home but you can substitute with wild rice or new baby potatoes.
The World Best Chicken Pie Ingredients – Serves 6 hungry or 8 polite
1 roasted chicken – medium to large, as good a quality you can buy or liberate one from the rotisserie counter if you are short of time/can’t be bothered
1 pack of smoked bacon lardons 150-200g
1 pack of baby button mushrooms, whole
1 tbs coconut oil
2 grated carrots
2 medium leeks finely sliced
400ml (ish) of chicken stock
large pinch of tarragon, dried or fresh
Half to whole of a small tub of half fat creme fraiche depending on how decadent you’re feeling
Half a cup of peas (optional)
Good few twists of fresh black pepper
1 pack of half fat puff pastry
1 egg, whisked with splash of milk to create a wash
Season the chicken with sea salt and black pepper, having popped a halved lemon or apple into the cavity for added moisture and flavour. Roast your chicken slowly for the appropriate time until the meat is cooked through and leave to cool. If you have a fat separator jug, reserve the juices for the sauce later.
When cooled take your rings off and tear the flesh from the chicken, leaving you with large chunks and tears of juicy roasted chicken meat. Pop these straight into your pie dish.
Whilst this is cooking you can get on with the rest of the filling.
In a large frying pan, dump the lardons and fry until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a mixing bowl.
In the remaining bacon fat, stir in the baby mushrooms, cooking until golden. The fat police will set the alarm bells off here but this recipe is all about big flavour and this is part of the process. Towards the end add the grated carrot and cook for 2-5 minutes on a low heat. Remove and add to the lardons.
Wipe down the pan to get rid of the remaining fat and melt the coconut oil – don’t over do the heat at this stage, you want a nice light coloured sauce so be gentle with it. Add the leeks and gently fry until they turn a vibrant bright colour and soften, approximately 5 minutes.
Remove half of the leeks and add to the bacon and mushroom mixture. If you want to throw in a small handful of peas at this stage, feel free.
Then to the pan drop in the hot stock, creme fraiche, tarragon and pepper, stirring until all mixed together. If you have roasted your own chicken, pop the saved juices to be added to this sauce. Cook gently for 5 minutes and then cool.
When cooled, tip all the leek sauce into a blender or cream up with a hand held version, taking care not to decorate the ceiling/yourself with the pale green liquid. Add some water if it looks too thick – it should be a creamy pouring consistency.
Take your pie dish and filled with the torn chicken and top with the vegetable mixture. Pile it all in evenly around a pie funnel or if you don’t have one, an egg cup turned upside down in the centre of the dish. This will help support the pastry from collapsing into the filling and keep it crispy. Pour some of the leek sauce over the filling, taking care not to flood the edges of the dish. Reserve the remaining sauce in a jug for the dinner table later.
Take the egg wash and lightly paint the edges of the dish with it. Take your sheet of pastry and cut a small cross in the centre then drape over the pie dish popping the cross over the funnel. Pinch the pastry around the edges of the dish, trim and decorate with the offcuts if you so wish. Paint the top lightly with egg wash.
You can at this stage pop it into the freezer for another day or get it into a 180 degree oven for 30 minutes or so.
Blow it a kiss and go and set the table. Have a peek at it after 30 minutes or so and give it a few more if necessary until the pastry is golden and light.