This is a recipe that I’m slightly obsessed with at the moment. For me, the combination of chicken, leeks and bacon is a complete winner – the leeks are sweet and soft, the bacon is smoky and salty and the chicken provides some chunkier texture which pulls everything together.
If you’re not sold on it just by seeing the words CHICKEN, LEEK and BACON together, then maybe the recipe will sway you. It’s really easy and doesn’t really require any specific measurements. I just kind of throw it all together and put as much in as looks right!
Sometimes I think I could eat the entire pie, but really this serves 2 greedy people, with maybe a bit to spare for lunch the next day
Chicken, Leek and Bacon Pie Filling
4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs (Sainsbury’s do good free-range ones and they’re super cheap)
A few rashers of bacon
A few carrots
A few tablespoons of plain flour
A large knob of butter
A tablespoon of dried thyme
1/2 glass white wine (optional)
Glug of liquid chicken stock or stock cube
Salt & pepper
I use the half-fat-to-flour method that my nan used, and for the fat part use half butter and half vegetable fat (my nan used lard, can’t bring myself to use it though)
I use about 80g of butter to cover an enamel pie dish around 20cm in diameter so 160g of plain flour, plus a pinch of salt. If you want to make the pastry richer you can use an egg yolk but I only tend to do that for sweet pastry cases, the butter makes this rich enough for a savoury dish, in my opinion.
Heat a small amount of oil to a saucepan or casserole, and snip the bacon into the pan and leave to get crispy (if it doesn’t go crispy now it never will, I can’t stand that wobbly white fat on bacon, yuck)
Meanwhile, chop the leeks finely (I usually cut them in half lengthways, in half again, and then finely slice) and add them to the pan with a large knob of melted butter to get soft in all the bacony juices. Peel and chop the carrots into 1.5cm -ish chunks.
When the leeks are soft, snip the chicken thighs into the pan (I barely ever use a knife to cut meat!) and fry until it’s all turned white. Add the carrots in and stir. Add 2-3 tablespoons of flour, salt and pepper (not too much salt, the bacon will be salty), and a good tablespoon of dried thyme. Stir in with everything else until the flour has combined with the buttery juices to make the roux which will thicken your sauce.
Add a generous glug of liquid stock, or a stock cube crumbled, and add enough boiling water to cover the mixture. Then add the white wine, and stir everything until combined. Simmer the mixture for around an hour or until it’s a nice thick consistency. The chicken should fall apart easily and the leeks will have almost melted into the rest of the sauce.
While the pie simmers away, you can get on with the pastry. One thing I will say: PASTRY IS EASY. Honestly. Do not fear it, especially if you have a food processor as it makes the whole thing incredibly easy and fast!
Just make sure the butter is really cold, straight from the fridge. Weigh it, and cut it into cubes. Add it to the processor with the flour (don’t need to sift, woo) and salt. Run the processor until the flour and butter look like breadcrumbs. While the motor is runnng, slowly add cold water until the mixture starts to come together into a dough in the processor. Then turn it off, take the dough out, squash it all into a ball, form it into a patty and wrap it in cling film and leave it to chill in the fridge for half an hour. This method is great because it involves little handling of the pastry so it keeps it cool.
If you don’t have a processor you can still do it by hand. Just dice up the butter nice and small, and add to the flour and salt. Rub the two together with the tips of your fingers, until you reach the breadcrumb consistency. Then slowly add the cold water until it comes together as a dough, and then squash it together, make the patty, clingfilm and refrigerate as usual.
When the pie mix is cooked, add it to your pie dish, and then roll out the pastry. I usually just roll it out into a rough circle and then squash it into the tin (nothing fancy here) and trim the edges. Then just lightly slash the top (not all the way through the pastry) with a sharp knife and make a hole in the centre for the steam to escape. Brush the top with a beaten egg or some milk and put in the oven for 20-30 mins until golden and crisp.
I usually eat this with loads of green vegetables (it is especially good with the new season asparagus). Enjoy!