Few things are as quintessentially British as a meat pie. I made this for my English boyfriend, who said: "Wow! It tastes just like a Gingsters slice, but better". In other words, the ultimate compliment. I cannot take credit for this recipe though, as it is a creation from the amazing Nigel Slater (yes, him again!), who really understands what comfort food is all about. He uses chicken thighs as opposed to breast meat as they are moister and more flavoursome, and adds some Dijon mustard to cut through the richness of the creamy sauce.
INGREDIENTS (for 4 people as a main course)
- 4 chicken thighs
- 8 peppercorns
- 1 small onion
- 1 bay leaf
- Enough milk to cover the chicken pieces
- 6 rashes of smoked backon, chopped into postage stamp-size pieces
- 30 gr butter
- 2 leeks, sliced thinly
- 3 tbs plain flour
- 3 tsp of mustard
- 2 packs of ready-rolled all butter puff pastry
- 1 egg, beaten
- Some grated Parmesan cheese
In a non-stick frying pan, fry the bacon with the butter until nicely browned, then add the leeks and gently cook them until soft and translucent.
Once the chicken thighs are cooked, lift them out of the milk and take all the meat off the bone. Shred it into juicy, bite-sized pieces and mix them in with the leeks and bacon, in the frying pan.
Still keeping the hob on a low setting, stir in the flour and cook it for a few minutes. Strain the milk in order to discard the onion, peppercorns and bay leaf and pour it in the frying pan, always stirring until you obtain a thick, creamy sauce. Finally, add the mustard and taste to adjust the seasoning.
Roll one sheet of puff pastry on a oven-proof tray lined with baking parchment. Spread the chicken filling evenly on top, stopping at about one cm from the edges. Brush the clean pastry at the edges with the beaten egg, then lay the second puff pastry sheet on top, pressing it down all around the edges to seal the pie. Brush the top of the pie with the egg as well, then score it lightly all over the surface and make two deeper and smaller incisions right in the middle, in order to allow your pie to breath while it is being baked. Finally, sprinkle a little grated Parmesan cheese all over the top.
Bake the pie for 35-40 minutes in the oven, pre-heated at 180°C. Leave it to stand for about 10 minutes before slicing it. It can be served warm or at room temperature, together with a green salad or as I did, with some steamed green beans dressed with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.