Chicken and Ham Pie
Chicken and Ham pies can be dry and lacking in flavour. I poach my chicken breasts briefly before cooking this pie – the chicken is moist and flavoursome and the ham from the hock is succulent. This is an absolutely delicious pie – ideal for midweek family eating and equally good enough to serve in the evening to friends. I reckon, if you have a few cupboard ingredients these pies will not cost you much more than £2.50 each or make one deep filled crowd pleasing pie for around £5 !
If you are making the chicken and ham (rather than just chicken pie) start well ahead with the ham hock. Mine cost just over £1 and it was frozen. Defrost in the fridge then I let it soak in cold water for 12 hours to remove some of the salt. Preheat the oven to just 100 degrees c or use a slow cooker. Take the hock from the water and place in a casserole pan with a well fitting lid. Add the tablespoon of black treacle and a good tbsp of black pepper cover with the lid and pop into the oven and cook for 12 hours. When the cooking time is up take the hock from the pan and when cool enough to handle, remove the skin and discard then enjoy seeing this delicious tender delicious ham fall away from the bone. My hock had about 350g tender meat – chop into 2cm chunks then set aside in a large roomy mixing bowl.
Make the pastry. In a food processor blitz the flour, salt and fats to the breadcrumb stage then gradually add the chilled water and continue with the motor running until a ball of dough is formed. Divide in four equal pieces (or in half if making the deep Pie) then cover in a beeswax wrap or greaseproof paper and chill for at least half an hour.
In a saucepan bring the white wine, stock and mushroom liquor (if using) to a gentle simmer then add the chicken breasts, cover with a lid and poach for 15 minutes on the lowest heat. Remove from the liquid, allow to cool slightly then chop into 2cm chunks and add to the bowl containing the ham pieces.
In a large frying pan heat the oil and butter then fry the onion gently for 10 minutes until golden and soft. Add the finely sliced mushrooms and chopped wild mushrooms (if using). Fry for a few minutes.
In a large cup or mug mix the flour, soft butter, mustard, nutmeg and salt and pepper to a very thick paste then loosen off with a couple of tablespoons of the stock. Pour this over the mushroom mix in the frying pan and keep stirring, adding a further 150ml of the stock little by little. You will have a thick sauce. Transfer to the bowl containing the chicken and ham and give a good stir. Add then the chopped spring onions, peas, tarragon, seasoning and 40ml of the double cream. Stir thoroughly and leave to go completely cold. The filling needs to be thick – you don’t want any leaks from your pie as it bakes.
Gravy to serve with the pie : Place the remainder of the stock used to cook the chicken into the warm frying pan and bring to a rapid boil. Allow to reduce down slightly then stir through the remainder of the cream. Stir, season and taste then keep to one side to heat up later and serve with the pie. If the sauce needs thickening simply mix 2 tsp cornflour with cold water to a thin paste then stir into the hot sauce.
To make the 2 pies – roll out the four pastry pieces and use two pieces to line the base of the tins. Divide the cold filling between the two, dampen the edges of the pastry then fit the pastry lids. Seal the edges, make a couple of air holes then chill until ready to bake. Apply one coat of egg wash, followed by a second wash prior to baking. The second egg wash ensures a gorgeous golden finish to your pie. If freezing one of your pies, apply the egg wash then freeze unbaked. Once frozen pop into a freezer bag then when ready to use bake from frozen.
Bake from chilled at 200 degrees c for 30 minutes. Bake from frozen at 200 degrees c for 45 minutes.
To make the deep filled pie – Grease the cake tin (I used lining paste) then use half of the pastry. Roll out to about the thickness of a £1 coin then line the tin, moulding the pastry well into the corners. Fill with the cold filling, pushing it down firmly, dampen the edges of the pastry with water then roll out the rest of the pastry and cover the pie filling. Trim the pastry then crimp the two pastry edges together. Chill the pie for at least half an hour before baking. Alternatively, egg wash the pie and pop into the freezer and keep for later. Bake for 40 minutes from chilled and for an hour from frozen. This deep filled pie will feed 8-10 people.
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