The rich, shortcrust pastry crust steers this Chicken Pie Recipe With Leeks and Tarragon toward perfection.
Newly revised, Angela Boggiano’s Pie (Octopus Publishing, 2013) offers over 100 recipes for creations both sweet and savory. Boggiano helps create perfection from such a simple idea: meat, vegetables or fruit cooked in their own juices produce the best flavors. Encase it all in a pastry crust, and these pies will impress any dining audience. The Chicken Pie With Leeks and Tarragon comes from the chapter “Home Pie.”
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It’s difficult to single out the best chicken pie, but after many tried-and-tested combinations this has got to be my favorite. The tarragon and lemon provide a lovely touch of freshness.
For the pastry
13 ounces (400g) rich shortcrust pastry (see below)
Beaten egg, to glaze
For the filling
3 pound (1.5 kg) free-range chicken
1 carrot, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
4 sprigs tarragon
1 tablespoon olive oil
knob of butter
2 leeks, finely sliced
2/3 cup (150ml) light cream
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
salt and ground black pepper
1. Place the chicken in a large saucepan with the carrot, celery, 1 of the onions and 3 tarragon sprigs. Season with a little salt and pepper and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
2. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to cool. Return the stock to the heat and simmer gently for a further 30 minutes until it is reduced by half.
3. Meanwhile heat the oil and butter in a large skillet, add the leeks and the remaining onion and gently cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Turn up the heat to high, add the wine and simmer rapidly for 3–4 minutes until reduced by half.
4. Stir in the flour and mix well in the pan for 1 minute. Pour in the cream, about 2/3 cup (150ml) of the reduced chicken stock and the lemon zest. Season with a little salt and plenty of ground black pepper.
5. Remove the meat from the cooled chicken carcass and chop or shred into small pieces. Add this and the remaining tarragon, chopped, to the leek and cream mixture and stir together. Set aside to cool.
6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a baking sheet in the oven to heat.
7. Line the base of a 12 x 8 inch (30 x 20cm) rectangular or 10 1/2 inch (26cm) round pie pan with two-thirds of the pastry and fill with the chicken mixture.
8. Brush the pastry edges with beaten egg. Roll out the remaining pastry to make a lid and lay over the filling, crimping the edges of the pastry with your fingertips to seal. Trim away any excess and brush with beaten egg to glaze.
9. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 30–35 minutes until the crust is golden and crisp.
Makes 10 oz (300g) of pastry
This is a richer version of plain shortcrust pastry with a higher proportion of fat. It can be used for both sweet and savory pies and is great flavored with spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg, or with ground almonds or walnuts for added texture. It is not as easy to handle as shortcrust pastry, but a great tip is to make sure it is perfectly chilled, then roll out between two sheets of wax paper. This prevents it from sticking to the work surface or rolling pin and makes it easy to transfer to the pie plate. Adding lemon juice stops the gluten in the flour from developing and will prevent the pastry from being too tough. Lemon juice can be added to any of the shortcrust pastry recipes. When making a sweet pie, add 2 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar for sweetness.
1 3/4 cups (200g) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons icing sugar, if making sweet pastry
3 1/2 ounces (100g) unsalted butter, cold — same amount as 3/4 stick plus 1 tablespoon
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons iced water
1. Sift together the flour and salt (and confectioner’s sugar, if making sweet pastry). Cut the butter into cubes and add half of it to the flour.
2. Gently and swiftly rub the fat into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the rest of the butter and mix until it’s the size of small peas.
3. Make a well in the center with your fist. Mix the beaten egg with the lemon juice and water and gradually pour into the well a little at a time, using a knife to mix the dough as you go. If the mixture looks like it has sufficient liquid to form a dough, don’t add all the liquid as the absorbency of flours varies.
4. Turn out on to a floured board and knead lightly until smooth. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before use.
Read more from Pie:
Scotch Pie Recipe
Reprinted with permission from Pie by Angela Boggiano and published by Octopus Publishing, 2013. Buy this book from our store: Pie.