Today has been heavenly. I haven’t had a day to myself in what feels like forever! Also, I’m getting over a rotten head cold, so it’s been so good just relaxing at home (and having an epic lie in). I did pop up to Archie’s bench this afternoon with a bunch of orange and yellow roses, and sat in the winter sun for a bit, which was lovely. It’s such a beautiful peaceful spot, I love it there. Even though it is in the heart of busy London, you can still hear the birds and it is so surprisingly peaceful. It has been a truly gentle day.
Part of my ‘me’ day involved making a pie. Because I fancied a pie and because it is one of the most rewarding things to make. Slow cooked sweet leeks and with chicken and thyme and a gorgeous cream cheese pastry to top it with. It feels fitting with the head cold and wintery sunshine. So here you go, my Wednesday night dinner, a perfect get ahead winter meal.
CHICKEN AND SWEET LEEK PIE WITH CREAM CHEESE PASTRY
Serves 2 hungry people (just double/ triple to feed more)
- 80g cold unsalted butter, chopped
- 160g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 80g cream cheese
- Olive oil
- 250g skinless and boneless chicken thighs, free range or organic
- 2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, finely sliced (optional)
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 large or 3 medium leeks (around 250g), washed thoroughly
- A few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
- 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
- 1 good quality chicken stock cube (or 400ml homemade chicken stock)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons double cream
- 1/2 bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped
- 1 egg, free range or organic, beaten
Start by making the pastry. Place the cold cut butter into a food processor, along with the baking powder, flour and a good pinch of salt. Blitz until you have fine breadcrumbs, then add the cream cheese and pulse until everything almost comes together – try not to over work the dough or you’ll end up with tough pastry. Spoon the dough onto a floured surface, and bring it together, then wrap it in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Whilst the pastry is resting make the filling. Cut the chicken thighs into thumb sized pieces and finely slice the bacon. Pour a lug of oil into a medium sized pan and pop onto a medium heat. Fry the bacon and chicken until golden and then spoon into a bowl. Dont worry about properly cooking the chicken, as you’ll slowly cook it later, you just want it to get a little colour. Slice the leeks into 1cm – 2cm rounds and add to the pan along with the sliced garlic and thyme leaves. Reduce the heat to low and slowly cook for around 20 minutes, until everything is soft and sticky but not coloured. Add the bacon and chicken back to the pan, stir for a minute, then add the flour. Turn the heat up to medium, stir everything together well, then after a couple of minutes add the stock cube and 400ml water (or chicken stock) and slowly bring to the boil. As soon as it start to bubble, give everything a good stir and reduce the heat to low. Pop on the lid and simmer for 25 minutes, until your stew has thickened and the chicken is lovely and tender. Season well, and stir in the double cream and chopped parsley.
You can make both the pastry and the filling in advance, just cool the stew down and pop in the fridge until you need it. When you are ready to bake your pie preheat your oven to 180/ 350/ gas mark 4. spoon the filling into a 2 person pie dish (mine is about 18cm) and brush the edge with the beaten egg. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface, so it is slightly larger than the dish and about 1cm thick, and then drape it over. Trim off the excess and then crimp the edges of the pastry however you like – I like to pinch mine with my fingers, or you could use a fork. Use any leftover pastry to make a motif for the top, brush the entire pie with beaten egg and stick on your pastry picture. Brush again with egg and pop the pie in the oven for around 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden, the pie is piping hot and the gravy is bubbling around the edges. Leave it to rest for 5 minutes, then serve with lots of steamed greens.