We've all heard of, and eaten a fair few of, traditional chicken and leek pies, but now food blog Belleau Kitchen has introduced a modern twist to the traditional recipe by adding Pernod (a liqueur flavoured with Chinese star anise) and trust us, it's a game-changing addition.
Dominic Franks, the brains behind Belleau, says: "I use leftover chicken for this dish but you can use fresh chicken breast, simply gently pan fry in a little butter until cooked through and then shred. The whole dish can be a little time consuming and of course you can simply use shop-bought puff pastry and lay it flat on top without the lattice, but oh boy is it worth it is worth the extra effort!"
CREAMY CHICKEN, LEEK, PERNOD AND PEA PIE
Serves 4, Preparation time 20 minutes, Cooking time 2 hours 30 minutes
For the puff pastry
• 220g/7oz plain flour
• 100g/4oz butter, cold but not fridge cold, cut into small pieces
• 1 tbsp dried oregano
• 75g/3oz strong Cheddar cheese, grated
• A pinch of salt
• A little cold water
For the cheese sauce
• 40g/1 1/2oz butter
• 40g/1 1/2oz plain flour
• 500ml/18fl oz milk or 250ml/9fl oz of milk and 250ml/9fl oz vegetable or chicken stock
• 75g/3oz strong Cheddar cheese (or any cheese)
For the filling
• 4 leeks, thickly sliced and rinsed well
• Olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme
• A large glug of Pernod
• 100g/4oz frozen peas
• 1/4 of a leftover roast chicken, flesh shredded or cubed
To make the pastry, sieve the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub it into the flour, raising your hands high as you do to allow plenty of air to get into the flour. This rubbing process will not be easy as the butter is cold, but you’re not after a fine breadcrumb, you want some large pieces of butter in there.
Add the oregano, cheese and salt and mix together, then add a few drops of water and using one hand shaped like a claw, begin to stir the flour and butter together – it should start to come together into a dough but you’ll need to dribble in a little more water for it to fully come together.
Once the dough is formed, tip it out onto some clingfilm, pat it out into a flat disk shape then wrap it up and pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes.
When the pastry is cold, take it out of the fridge and, still on the clingfilm, roll it out to double its size. Then you want to envelope-fold the dough, which means folding the top over and the bottom up to create an envelope. Then roll flat, turn by 90° degrees and envelope-fold again. Wrap it back up and refrigerate for a further 30 minutes. It should now be ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 190°C, 375°F, Gas 5.
To make the pie, place the leeks into a pie dish, drizzle over a little olive oil, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle over plenty of fresh herbs. Cover with foil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes then un-cover, pour over the Pernod and stir in the peas, re-cover and pop back in the oven for a further 5 minutes or until the vegetables are al dente. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Make the cheese sauce by melting the butter gently in a small pan. Once melted, remove from the heat and stir in the flour to make a smooth but thick paste. Then add a dash of the milk/stock and again stir into a paste. Place the pan back on a gentle heat and slowly add a little milk at a time, stirring well between additions. If it looks like it may become lumpy take the pan off the heat and stir until smooth. Continue this way until all the milk is gone and you have a nicely thick sauce. Let it bubble away very gently on the heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the cheese and stir until melted.
Pour the cheese sauce over the vegetables in the pie dish, add the chicken and set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes before you attempt the lattice pastry crust.
Generously flour a work surface and roll out the pastry into a large oblong and then cut it into 6 long strips and 8 shorter strips. (This is just a guide as you may need more of one or less of the other to fit your dish.)
Lay the long strips lengthways along pie dish, with gaps in between then take one shorter strip and, starting from one edge of the pie dish, weave it over and under each long strip. Continue this way until all your pastry strips are woven. I like it looking quite rough and ready but feel free to trim to make it nice and neat. Brush with a little beaten egg before baking for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and puffy. Serve with fresh green veg, like kale or broccoli.
This recipe is from the collaboration of British Leeks and food blogger Dominic Franks, the creative brains behind leading food blog Belleau Kitchen (belleaukitchen.com) They teamed together to add a modern-day twist to some tradition leek dishes. For more information and recipes, visit Britishleeks.co.uk.