Marika Gauci runs the hugely successful Sunday Pie Club, the only pie-making class in London. Her book, ‘The Little Book of Pies’ will be published by Random House/Square Peg Books in 2014. Here, she shares a classic recipe from her class: Chicken, Leek & Bacon Pie.
Makes 6‐8 little pies or two 7.5” round pies
For the White Sauce
2 tsp mustard
1/2 chicken stock cube, crumbled
For the Filling
3 tbsp vegetable oil
600g chicken, medium diced
2 garlic cloves sliced
100g lardoons or smoked streaky bacon, diced
1 tsp tarragon or sage
Black pepper and salt
For the Shortcrust Pastry
500g plain flour
40g Parmesan cheese, grated
½ tsp salt
125ml of very cold water
1 egg, beaten, for glazing
1. First make the Sauce. Add the butter into a saucepan and melt, then add the flour, mix well with a whisk for a few minutes. Then add all the milk at once, whisking well. Take the saucepan from heat if it starts to thicken. Now add the mustard and crumble in the stock cube. Season with salt and pepper. Leave to cool.
2. Add a little olive oil to the casserole dish and fry the diced chicken to brown, don’t add salt at this stage it will draw out the moisture from the chicken, just a sprinkling of pepper, once a little brown or fried for 5 minutes ladle out chicken and set aside to rest so the juices and flavour escape.
3. Add a little butter and fry the sliced leeks and onions until shinny, then add the lardoons and mushrooms fry for a few minutes, until turning a little caramelised. Finally add the sliced garlic and tarragon/sage. Now add the chicken and juices back into the mix.
4. Cook on a medium heat for a further 5 minutes.
5. Take from heat; add the sauce to the chicken and leek mixture and leave to cool completely OR fill the sink with cold water to draw out the heat fast.
TOP TIP: If your filling is too hot for your cold pastry you will have an uncooked soggy bottom to your pie, so don’t skip this step
6. Meanwhile make the short crust pastry. Place flour, salt, diced cold butter into a mixing bowl. Lightly with fingertips rub butter with flour until it resembles ground almonds or breadcrumbs. Try and be as light and airy as possible and lift the flour up high with hands to allow lots of air into the mixture. Think cold. When that’s done add cheese and mix.
7. Make a well in the mixture and gradually add water or all at once, one hand on the bowl other quickly mixing until mixture comes together loose crumbly dough. Tip out dough onto floured surface and squeeze together, turning around a few times so the crumbs can marry up. Flatten dough and cover with Clingfilm and chill in fridge for about 30 minutes.
8. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 5
9. Remove pastry from fridge, flour surface, and roll pastry out to the thickness of a pound coin. Half turns. Shape to your pie dish(es)
10. Fill with cold mixture. The top can be a little thinner than the base if you like. Brush whisked egg around the pie rim to act as a glue, fix top, crimp, decorate as you wish, make some holes and egg wash the top.
11. Bake in the pre‐heated oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Another tip to make sure of no soggy bottom, place a baking try in the oven whilst its pre‐heating then when it comes to baking your pie(s) place tin on top.