It's National Pie Week from 1 - 7 March, a time to indulge our love of hearty pies in all shapes and sizes. From deep-filled rich meat pies to delicious fruit tarts, pies are one of Britain's most-loved dishes.
Now HELLO! can exclusively reveal that Her Majesty the Queen and family enjoy a good pie just as much as we do!
Former royal chef, Darren McGrady, who shares his recipes on his YouTube channel Rattling Pans with Darren McGrady, told us all about the Queen's favourite pies. He also shared a recipe below for his chicken and leek pie which would often be served for lunch at the palace.
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Darren said: "Pies have been around for thousands of years so it's no surprise to hear they were very popular at the royal table. Pies were never served at dinner, (too heavy) only for lunch but in many different ways.
"At Balmoral and Sandringham, pies were perfect for lunch after a morning's shoot. Mini curried chicken pies and venison pies, delicious braised meat wrapped in puff pastry made a delicious elevenses snack."
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The Queen stays at her Scottish home, Balmoral, every summer
"More substantial pies were served at lunch. Steak and kidney pies with a delicious shortcrust pastry topping, slow-cooked chicken and leeks bound in a creamy chicken sauce, spooned into a shortcrust pastry shell and topped with a layer of puff pastry were definitely one of the most popular pies served."
The Queen is rather fond of pies for lunch
"Of course dessert pies were popular too," he added. "Apple pies made from the amazing apples form the Sandringham orchards.
"Sometimes the apples tossed with blackberries or raspberries but by far the most requested Olde English apple pie – Sandringham apples tossed with raisins, dark brown sugar, lemon and orange zest and juice, cinnamon and nutmeg – served with a large dollop of cream fresh from the Windsor castle dairy."
Apple pie is a favourite for the royals
"The chocolate perfection pie though was always our favourite to make. The Queen loves chocolate and the crumbly pastry crust filled with layers of cinnamon meringue and chocolate cream was outrageously delicious."
Darren also told HELLO! about the royals' love of mince pies at Christmas. He revealed: "Mince pies were served almost daily at Christmas, filled with rich mincemeat made fresh in the palace kitchens, baked in a flaky pastry with the lid popped lifted just before serving to place a spoon of brandy butter to melt into the warm mincemeat."
Who fancies a pie now?
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Chicken and leek pie recipe
Makes 6 portions
For the pastry:
- 1 1/3 cups flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup lard or solid vegetable shortening
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
For the filling:
- 2 leeks, washed, trimmed and finely sliced
- 4 oz butter
- Salt and pepper
- 3 double chicken breasts
- ½ tsp ground mace
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 1 beaten egg
For the sauce:
- 2 oz flour
- 2 oz butter
- 15 fl oz milk
- 5 fl oz cream
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Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180C
In a large bowl rub the butter and lard/shortening into the flour and salt until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the water and vinegar and mix until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if the dough is dry.
Gather dough into ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Line a flan ring or pie dish with the pastry and blind bake. Cut out a circle of puff pastry to top the pie.
Make the sauce, melt the butter, stir in the flour and gradually add the milk and cream. Soften the leeks in 2 oz of the butter in a pan with a lid, stirring occasionally.
Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes and season with salt, pepper and mace. Melt 1 oz butter in a frying pan and fry the chicken until it is well sealed and add the soy sauce.
Add the leeks and chicken to the sauce. Adjust the seasoning and spoon into the part-baked pie shell. Brush the edges with the beaten egg and lay the puff paste lid on top and brush the puff paste with the remaining egg.
Return to the oven for about 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
For more of Darren McGrady's royal recipes visit his YouTube page.