Firstly, I apologise for the lack of posts last month. After starting a new job and the general madness of December I didn’t find time to blog which is a shame as many a foodie treat was crafted and prepared. Perhaps I shall have to save them for next Christmas as seeing a load of festive food photos now might just depress everyone even more, and the rain is doing a pretty good job of that on its own.
So, yes, the rain. The month; January. The lack of Christmas, decorations gone, we’re all a bit plumper and the liver needs a rest. But we still all need a bit of comfort and a pie wins every time.
This pie recipe is based on Jamie Oliver’s Turkey and Sweet Leek Pie. My Mum makes this every Christmas with the leftovers and freshly made stock and it is quite simply the best pie I’ve ever eaten. However, in the absence of leftover turkey you can make a pretty awesome alternative with chicken.
What really gives this pie the spring in its step is the tarragon. Often used in French cooking this herb has long, soft green leaves and a distinctive aniseed flavour. Yet strangely, you don’t have to like aniseed to like tarragon. Something magical happens when it’s paired with the right food (think chicken, fish, eggs, cream) and the taste is aromatic and luxurious.
This pie tastes so good that when I made it for my boyfriend’s family we tucked right in and got all the way through it before I realised I’d forgotten to take any photos of the final pie. Luckily, I’d taken some of my Mum’s when she made this same pie a few months back. So what you’ll see here are photos of two different versions of the same pie – half mine, half hers. Hers looks pretty damn good doesn’t it – thanks Mum!
Nothing can beat this pie when it’s cold outside and you want the warm embrace of a proper hearty supper. Forget January blues and bake this. Happy days all round.
1 medium free-range chicken
100g smoked bacon lardons
Bunch of fresh tarragon, leaves picked
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
1 litre chicken stock
4 tablespoons crème fraîche
500 g puff pastry
The day before you want to eat your pie (or the morning of, if you have a bit more time), get your chicken and nestle it into a large pan. Top it with cold water, a bit of carrot, onion and celery, a few pepper corns and bay leaf, and slowly bring to the boil. Turn the heat right down, cover with a lid slightly ajar to let the steam escape, and let the chicken poach for about 45 minutes – 1 hour, until cooked.
When it’s done and has cooled slightly, lift the chicken out of the water and set aside for carving. Tear off all the meat from the bird (including off the wings and legs) and put all the bones and carcass back into the poaching water. Boil this down for another hour or so, and then drain, reserving the stock and discarding the bones and veg. Set the stock and the meat aside.
Meanwhile, wash the leeks and roughly chop them into chunks before whizzing up in a food processor until quite fine with a few larger chunks.
Once the bacon is starting to crisp, add the leeks and stir them all through, and fry for a couple of minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper then pop a lid on, turn the heat down to medium-low and let them cook away gently for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes to make sure they don’t catch.
When your leeks are ready, add the chopped tarragon, chicken meat and stir. Sprinkle in the flour and mix it in well, followed by the stock and crème fraîche. Turn the heat up and bring everything back up to the boil briefly. Check the seasoning, and when you’re happy pour the mixture through a sieve over another large empty pan to separate the gorgeous creamy gravy from the pie mixture. You don’t want to leave the pie mix too dry, but you want to get enough liquid for people to pour over when it comes to eating time.
Get a deep baking dish ready for assembling your pie. Dust a clean surface with a dash of flour and roll your pastry so it’s a bit larger than the dish you’re using.
Spoon the pie mix from your sieve into the pie dish and spread it out evenly. Lay your pastry on top, tuck the ends under then gently score the pastry diagonally with your knife. Brush the pastry with beaten egg.
You can now keep the pie in the fridge for a day or two, or freeze it (well covered and wrapped) or if you want to cook it straight away preheat the oven to 190C. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until golden brown.
Reheat your gravy and serve alongside with pie with mashed potato, veg, or whatever you fancy.
- Serves about 8