Chicken and Leek Pie with Tarragon

Chicken with slippery soft leek, the flavours lifted by the aniseedy flavour of tarragon is a marriage made in heaven, particularly so if everything is held in a creamy white wine sauce and hidden under a buttery pie crust. I like to decorate the crust with faux leaves of pastry and to glaze it with egg wash so the pie ends up glossy and golden. Serve with roast potatoes that can cook in the oven at the same time as the pie. Peas and carrots go well with this.

Serves 4

Prep: 30 min

Cook: 60 min

200g flour plus 2 tbsp extra

125g butter

25g lard

3-4 tbsp cold water

2 leeks

1 onion

800g chicken thigh fillet

150ml white wine

150ml chicken stock

few sprigs tarragon

1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp milk

Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Sift 225g flour into a mixing bowl. Cut 75g butter and 25g lard into pieces over the flour and use your fingertips to work it quickly into the flour until it resembles heavy breadcrumbs. Stir in sufficient cold water to enable the dough to cling together. Knead lightly to form a ball. Cover and chill in a plastic bag for 30 minutes. Trim and slice the leeks in 1cm rounds, agitate in a bowl of water and drain. Peel, halve and finely chop the onion. Melt remaining 25g butter in a spacious frying pan or similarly wide-based pan and stir in the onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, then lower the heat, add the leeks, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes until the leeks are soft. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into chunks. Increase the heat and stir the chicken into the pan, stirring for a few minutes until all the pieces are white. Sift 1 tbsp flour over the top, stir vigorously until it disappears, then stir in the wine and stock to make a thick, smooth sauce. Reduce the heat and cook gently for a few minutes to cook the flour. Stir the chopped tarragon into the pan, check the seasoning and cool – 10 minutes in the freezer is a quick solution. Dust a work surface with flour and roll two thirds of the pastry to fit a non-stick or oiled 20cm flan tin. Spoon in the filling. Roll the remaining pastry and fit the lid, crimping the edges to seal. If liked, I do, use pastry trimmings to decorate around a central steam hole, ‘gluing’ with water. Paint with egg wash, prod with a fork to make a few steam holes and bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked through. If the pie seems to be browning too quickly, reduce the heat slightly and cover with a sheet of foil.