Cold, dark days and the run up to Christmas always brings cravings for the classics. I really need some comfort food this time of year and what’s more comforting than a pie?
I’m also trying to improve my skills with pastry so this was another excuse to practise. Although you can buy pastry, shortcrust is very easy to make and it’s very satisfying to put the whole thing together from scratch. This recipe uses a basic shortcrust recipe that you could use for sweet or savoury dishes. The basic idea is plain (not strong) flour and fat in a 2:1 ratio. I have used half butter half lard here but all butter would be fine as well. You don’t want to overwork the pastry as it will end up more elastic and less ‘short’ (crumbly), for the same reason I start breaking the fat up with a knife (can grate it or use a food processor) and cool my hands before working it into crumbs (being as light fingered as possible).
I bought a whole chicken and filleted it myself here, as it is much cheaper generally if you are cooking for more than 2 people.
Basic Shortcrust Recipe
To line and top a 9inch pie dish.
- 14 oz plain flour
- 3.5 oz butter (room temp)
- 3.5 oz lard (room temp)
- Water (cold)
- Weigh the flour and fat and place in a mixing bowl.
- Using a knife break up the fat as much a possible.
- Cool your hands under the cold tap and dry. Using your hands break the fat into the flour until combined like bread crumbs. Doesn’t need to be perfect. Don’t overwork it.
- Add cold water a teaspoon at a time and mix until the pasty comes together. It should be a slightly sticky and homogenous, not wet.
- Wrap in cling film. Rest in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour before rolling out.
Chicken, ham and leek pie recipe
Serves 4 in a 9 inch pie dish
- A small chicken or 3 chicken breasts
- 2 gammon steaks
- 1 large leek
- 3 cloves or garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 1.5 oz Butter
- 1 oz Plain flour
- 1 pint milk
- Shortcrust pastry
- 1 egg beaten
- Make you pastry as above.
- Remove the skin from the chicken, fillet the breasts and remove the legs. Discard the carcass.
- Place the chicken meat in a pan with the bay leaves. Cover with water/chicken stock.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the meat and set aside.
- Reduce the stock to about 1/2 pint.
- Finely slice the leek and garlic. Cut the gammon steaks into inch squares.
- Place leek, garlic and gammon with the butter in a large pan on a medium heat.
- Cook until the gammon is cooked.
- Add the flour and mix with the fat, cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the milk slowly and stir until combined. Add the 1/2 pint of chicken stock.
- Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.
- Taste, season, cover and allow to cool.
- Cut the chicken into medium chunks (discard the bones) and stir into the sauce.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
- Roll half the pastry out until 3-5mm thick.
- Place in the pie dish and press down until the dish is lined.
- Pour the filling into the lined dish.
- Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg.
- Roll out the remaining pastry until 5mm and big enough to cover the dish. Cover the dish.
- Trim the excess pastry.
- Crimp the edges of the pastry with your fingers.
- Slash 1 or 2 holes in the top to allow the steam to escape.
- Brush the whole top with egg.
- Bake in the oven for 50 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
I served this with mash potato and steamed broccoli. We ate this with my wife’s best friend and her daughter (three years old): smiles and clean plates all round!