This is one of my fave chicken pie fillings, and simple to make!
500g (about 1 pound) block puff or flaky puff pastry 700g (about 1½ pounds) skinned and boned chicken thighs 2 Tbsp olive oil 150g (5 ounces) smoked bacon, rind removed and coarsely chopped 2 Tbsp plain flour 2 leeks, trimmed, halved, washed and sliced 1 large carrot, peeled and diced 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed ¼ cup dry white wine Freshly grated nutmeg to taste 2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 Tbsp thyme leaves 150g (5 ounces) crème frâiche 1 egg, lightly beaten with a pinch of salt
1 Roll out the pastry and cut into 4 large ovals or circles (depending on the shape of the dishes you are going to use) cutting the pieces so they’re big enough to generously hang over the tops of the dishes. Lay pastry rounds on a flat plate, cover with plastic wrap and chill until required. Read about pastry here Pastry
2 Trim off fat from chicken thighs and cut flesh into larger than bite-sized chunks. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large frying pan and when it is hot, add bacon. Cook until golden and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a large plate. While bacon is cooking, put flour in a clean plastic bag, add chicken, and toss gently until the chicken is coated with flour. Add to pan and brown quickly, until about half-cooked. Transfer to the plate with the bacon and season lightly with salt.
3 Add remaining oil to pan, add leeks, then carrot and garlic. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add wine, ¾ teaspoon salt, plenty of black pepper and nutmeg. Cook for a further 5 minutes, then turn off the heat. Stir in parsley, thyme, crème frâiche, chicken and bacon.
4 Divide filling amongst the dishes. Dampen the rims of the dishes. Re-roll the pastry scraps and cut into long strips and lay these on the rims of the dishes; it doesn’t matter if you patch them together. Dampen the surface of the pastry rims, then put pastry tops on, pressing them gently onto the pastry rims. Trim off excess pastry with a small sharp knife. Use a large skewer to make a hole in the centre of each pie then score the pastry surface into a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife. Cut out pastry leaves and adhere, or make small pastry balls and arrange on top. Brush pastry tops with beaten egg.
5 Put pies on a sturdy oven tray and bake in an oven preheated to 190°C (375°F) for 30-35 minutes, or until pastry is a good golden brown and filling is bubbling underneath. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
For the pies in this photo, I used ready-made shortcrust pastry because that is what I had. The pies worked okay, but they lacked the richness of flaky buttery pastry. I think I’d stick to that in the future.
You could serve a green vegetable such as broccoli alongside. Toss it with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and a clove of crushed garlic and you’re good to go.