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WanderSups: Could this be the best-ever pie?

“The first crunch as the serving spoon breaks through the pastry crust and the well-manoeuvred scoop as you try to get a bit of everything in one fell swoop - it’s a magic moment. . .” To mark British Pie Week, Hannah Gregory shares a pie recipe that’s anything but humble

British Pie Week falls in March (image: library) (62317205)
British Pie Week falls in March (image: library) (62317205)

I think we can all agree that there is nothing more comforting than a pie. Of course it will always initiate the lifelong debate of ‘Is a pie really a pie if it only has a lid?’ (the answer is yes), but arguments aside, it brings people together in a very special way.

Pies are usually a group affair, oohing and ahhing as it is placed in the middle of a dining table, gold lid puffed, steam piping out. The first crunch as the serving spoon breaks through the pastry crust and the well-manoeuvred scoop as you try to get a bit of everything in one fell swoop - it’s a magic moment.

I lovingly call this pie ‘pie for my guy’ because it is what I make every time I need to win points with my partner. Birthdays, anniversaries, accidentally using the joint account card to fuel a shopping addiction - you name it, this pie hits the mark.

We all know the famous chicken and leek pie but why stop there? With the addition of sausagemeat, tarragon, pancetta and a slug of mustard, the humble pie is elevated into a dinner party-worthy dish. Not only is this pie one of the best you will ever eat - fact - but it is also the simplest to make. I cut corners with shop-bought puff pastry; you could of course make your own… if you’re a masochist.

You can also leave out the pastry altogether and eat this as a stew. It also freezes particularly well: just make the filling, allow to cool and then freeze for up to three months. When it comes time to cook it, defrost the filling thoroughly and top with pastry and cook as below.

I like to serve mine with piles of creamy mash and seasonal greens but have also been known to stand at the stove and eat this straight from the dish with nothing more than a fork.

Chicken, Leek, Sausage and Tarragon Pie

Serves: 4 (generously)

What you need:

● Glug olive oil

● 50g butter

● 100g diced smoked pancetta

● 1kg boned and skinned chicken thighs

● 2 medium leeks

● 2 carrots

● 3 sticks of celery

● Small bunch thyme, leaves picked

● 2 tablespoons plain flour

● 250ml white wine

● ½ pint milk

● 1 tablespoon wholegrain or Dijon mustard

● Salt and peps

● Bunch tarragon, leaves picked

● 300g sausagemeat

● 1 x 500g block all-butter puff pastry

● 1 egg

How you do it :

1. If making the pie in its entirety, ie not a stew or planning to freeze, preheat your oven to 220C.

2. Throw the pancetta into a cold casserole dish, heat over a medium heat to allow the fat to render out. Once the pancetta is cooked through and starting to crisp, remove with a slotted spoon, ensuring you are leaving all the delicious porky fat behind.

3. Whilst the pancetta is cooking, trim and slice your leeks into 1cm rounds, roughly chop the carrots and finely slice the celery.

4. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.

5. Add a glug of olive oil and half the butter into the casserole dish with the rendered fat and heat until foaming.

6. Add the chicken, vegetables and thyme and cook slowly on a low heat for 15 minutes.

7. Once the 15 minutes is up, turn the heat up high and add the flour, stirring to ensure the chicken and veg are covered.

8. Add the wine, milk, mustard and 250ml of water and stir to combine.

9. Season with salt and pepper and then place a lid on and cook for an hour over a low heat until the chicken is tender and the sauce is creamy. You will need to stir every so often so the bottom doesn’t catch.

10. If the mix seems too loose, just continue to cook without the lid on until thickened.

11. Transfer the mix to a pie dish and sprinkle the tarragon leaves on top.

12. In a separate pan, add a glug of oil and the remaining butter. Break in the sausagemeat and brown all over.

13. Spoon the browned sausagemeat over the pie filling.

14. Roll out your pastry to the correct size and about half a centimetre thick.

15. Egg wash the edges of your pie dish and place the pastry over the fillings.

16. Egg wash the pastry lid and crimp the edges if that is your jam.

17. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until golden brown.

A former BBC MasterChef quarter finalist, Hannah hosts WanderSups supper clubs, “serving meals created with love, inspired by journeys around the world, dished up on home turf”. Her ethos is simple - have fun, enjoy it, make it an occasion. To find out more follow @WanderSups or visit wandersups.com

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