Riverford Organic, and once a month or so I add one of their meat boxes to my order. These usually contain a roasting joint, bacon, sausages, cooked ham, chops or steaks for the grill, and often something to braise. While the contents varies from week to week, there is always a chicken.
This I usually portion, pan-roasting the breasts and saving the legs and thighs for a casserole or curry, or maybe even confit. The carcase, of course, is turned into stock.
I also love a simply roasted chicken, and last week The Amateur Gourmet had a great post describing Thomas Keller's roast chicken, following a recipe from Keller's "Ad Hoc at Home". It was this post by Michael Ruhlman, however, that swayed me, so I set out to make a chicken pie.
Of course, I could have roasted the chicken and used the leftovers for my pie, but I thought I would kill two birds with one stone by boiling the chicken, providing myself with a good batch of chicken stock at the same time. I first used this technique for cooking a chicken when making Fergus Henderson's Cock-a-leekie soup. (The recipe for this and Boiled chicken, leeks and aioli, which uses the same technique, can be found in his book Nose to Tail Eating).
It's really very straightforward. Slit the skin of the chicken where the thighs join the body (this allows the hot water to penetrate). Roughly chop 2 carrots, 2 onions, 2 leeks, and 2 sticks of celery, and put into a large pot along with the chicken, 2 bay leaves, and peppercorns. If you like, add some parsley stalks, a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary and a head of garlic. Cover the lot with cold water, bring slowly to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat and put a lid on the pan. Allow the chicken to cool in the stock, by which time it will be ready to be stripped from the bone into pie-sized chunks.
For a chicken and leek pie, wash and slice some leeks. Place in a pan, cover with a lid, and cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes or so. Stir occasionally to make sure they don't catch. Now add about 30g butter and cook for another 5 minutes before adding a glass of dry white wine. Remove the lid at this point and increase the heat to reduce the wine to almost nothing. Sprinkle over 3 tablespoons of plain flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes. Now gradually ladle in the hot stock, stirring after each addition until smooth. Bring to a boil and let it bubble for a minute or two, until the sauce has thickened. This quantity of flour should thicken about 600ml stock, but start off by adding about 400ml of stock and stop there if the sauce is to your liking.
Now add the chicken to the mix. I also added the ham that I had reserved from my last batch of ham stock. Warm through and check the seasoning - it will need some salt and pepper. You now have your pie filling, but let it cool a bit before using (otherwise the pastry will melt when you come to assemble it).
For the pastry, I used Ruhlman's 3-2-1 pie dough. This is just shortcrust pastry, the 3-2-1 refering to the ratio of flour (3 parts) to butter (2 parts) to water (1 part). This makes a richer shortcrust than we are used to in the UK, where a 2:1 ratio of flour to butter is more common. But just look at Ruhlman's rich, buttery pastry, and how can you resist?
The pie will want to be baked for about 40 minutes in a 200℃ oven. Oh, and don't forget to glaze with milk or egg wash for a nice finish.
As for quantities, one chicken (1.6kg), 4 medium leeks, and ham from a small hock made enough pie for 8 portions, with 2lt chicken stock left over.
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